Letters to
the editor

Hospitalisation call not so simple

While it is emotionally understandable that people would expect their loved ones to be moved from aged care to hospital when they contracted Covid-19, it can be argued that this would have made no difference to their outcome, but would have placed hospital staff at great risk (Rick Morton, “Exclusive: The government phone call that denied elderly coronavirus patients access to hospital”, August 15-21). Journalists tend to treat all aged-care residents as a common group, but they are anything but, and should not be considered as a common entity in discussion. Briefly they comprise people with slow or non-progressive physical illness such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke or profound quadriplegia, or people with slowly progressive cancer, frail elderly with multiple comorbidities but no specific fatal illness, and a large number with dementia. This diverse group can be triaged into three cohorts – first, those who have a completed life who are waiting to die and do not want to go to hospital; second, those whose state of health is such that no hospital treatment will make any difference to their outcome (i.e., treatment is futile); and third, a group for whom aggressive hospital treatment might result in survival, and they want that. The first two groups should have been provided with effective palliative care in quarantine in situ, while the third group should have been transferred to hospital for assessment. The federal government says it had a plan, but clearly it was an ineffective plan. The current plaint to move all Covid-19-positive aged-care people to hospital is also an ineffective response that will alter little except expose important skilled hospital personnel to infection. Unfortunately, the time to implement an effective plan (prevention) is long gone, and we are reaping the consequence.

– Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills, Vic

A choice had to be made

As I enter the second half of the last quarter of my life, I chortle at the outrage against the “amoral, hideous” idea of offering up our elderly to the natural history of coronavirus infection (Paul Bongiorno, “The incredible shrinking prime ministership”, August 15-21). One hundred years ago we offered up one-third of our young men for a greater cause. We did this because older men were unlikely to survive, not because they were less valuable. And so it is today. Let’s stop being so precious.

– Jonathan Silberberg, Cow Bay, Qld

The victim blaming continues

Daniel Harvey’s mother has solace in his death because it meant he did not have to be deported (Karen Middleton, “What happened to Daniel Harvey?”, August 15-21). This goes to the black heart of the government’s immigration detention policy. Mr Harvey’s death was preventable at many levels but, as usual, the victim is blamed. Refugees and asylum seekers are suffering under the weight of unbearable detention conditions. Using Christmas Island should never have been an option, though the government seems to be testing its facilities with one little Biloela family. Linking genuine refugees to vague assumptions that there may be criminals among them means the government can keep its disgraceful policies in place despite global condemnations for its human rights abuses.

– Beverley Fine, Vaucluse, NSW 

It’s the wrong Dish

The delgug trees of the Djab Wurrung people deserve special heritage status, conservation and protection (Editorial, “Instead they saved the Dish”, August 15-21). Instead, Environment Minister Sussan Ley has awarded that status to a secondary player in an American-funded space program. The Parkes radio telescope played a supporting role in broadcasting the moon landing in 1969. It was the dish at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, ACT, that received the now famous “One small step …” footage. That facility closed in 1981 and concrete foundations are all that remain. The antenna was dismantled and moved to Tidbinbilla, where it was later decommissioned in 2009 and declared a historical aerospace site, not by the Australian government but by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Sussan Ley’s special heritage status for the “most famous Dish in the nation” is both ignorant and ignores places in dire need of conservation and protection.

– Malte Ebach, Wentworth Falls, NSW

Throw the book at Libs

Given the lack of evidence that any Liberal politician has ever used a library, let alone spoken to a librarian, I am mystified that Michael O’Brien’s colleagues have chosen to pay him the compliment of likening him to an assistant librarian (The Week, August 15-21). Unfortunately, Mr O’Brien and his Liberal colleagues are unqualified for, as well as unworthy of, the title of librarian of any rank.

– Gayle Davies, North Sydney, NSW

Deeper questions on the law

I have just two questions for John Mosig of Kew (Letters, August 15-21). First, I ask him why we are not a law-abiding society? Second, I wonder whether he has heard the saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

– Marion Ryan, Foster, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 22, 2020.

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