Getting back to quality care
Rick Morton’s article “The collapse of aged care (part one)” (September 12-18) identifies the late 1990s as when the system started to go pear-shaped. One major failing is when the ratio of registered nurses (RNs) to residents was abandoned in 1998. I was the CEO of a community-based non-profit nursing home in inner Melbourne from 1982 to 1989. We had three RNs for 60 residents for a 12-hour shift (8am to 8pm) and one RN from 8pm to 8am. Although funding was tight, we always were financially stable through community support plus a board of management that included representatives from the three local councils in our referral area. Yes, we also had enrolled nurses and nursing assistants, but the primary care was always provided by skilled registered nurses. As Morton points out, the percentage of RNs has declined 8 points from 2003 to 2016 in Australian nursing homes, and 5 points for ENs over the same period. Is it any wonder the abandonment of minimum standards has been a major contributor to the recent failures of many Australian aged-care facilities.
– Alan Johns, Queenscliff, Vic
News Corp destroying a free press
I have just finished reading Mike Seccombe’s article “Murdoch grab: The other story behind AAP’s sale” (September 12-18). I have followed with interest the demise of independent journalism in this country and around the world. I would like and have tried to understand the need of Mr Murdoch and his press empire to destroy press freedom; it seems they need to hoover up anything that is not under their control. Papers such as The Saturday Paper are an important part of keeping a free press. Keep up the good work.
– Kerry Stokes, Montrose, Vic
Coalition must spend more
I agree with Danielle Wood’s “Recession realities” (September 12-18) assertion that billions more dollars should be used to create jobs and stimulate the economy to turn the Covid-19 recession around, but I disagree that the money needs to be sourced from low-interest loans. According to modern monetary theory, a government of a country such as Australia, which has a sovereign currency, can never become insolvent. It does not have to borrow money nor increase taxes to fund its programs. There is a role for taxation in shaping public behaviour and redistributing wealth and power. There is a definite limit on how many programs can be physically resourced, and that is the source of anxiety about inflationary impacts. But our rate of unemployment is a choice, set by our government. (In the 1970s, an unemployment rate above 2 per cent was considered politically suicidal.) On April 30, 2020, economics professor Bill Mitchell calculated that $26.5 billion would pay for a direct jobs guarantee that would reduce the unemployment rate by 6 percentage points. That’s good for society, individuals’ mental and physical health, the environment and the economy.
– Kip Fuller, West Croydon, SA
Chipping away at forests
While Tasmania didn’t suffer the Black Summer bushfires experienced on the mainland, Drew Rooke’s article (“Trees of strife”, September 12-18) suggests we all suffer the same feral logging industry. On both sides of Bass Strait it claims to be crucial to its state’s economic existence despite wildly inflated claims of jobs provided and economic returns. In Tasmania, at the height of its forestry frenzy, close to 94 per cent of its huge native forest harvest went to woodchips, yielding virtually no return to the public owners. Threatened species and giant trees received much the same solicitude as any other economic inconvenience, and regulatory breaches usually occasioned no more than a “sorry”. Victoria’s recently announced cessation of old-growth forest logging may have less to do with moral conscience, or economic rationality, than with the fact less than 10 per cent survives.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
States too slow on logging
It’s shock enough to read about the logging of recently burnt forests. After the stories of giant trees being felled with the logging business owner crying “it’s so hard to log within boundaries”, the greater shock is to realise Victoria has a plan to end native tree logging – by 2030! We know most timber is cut from plantation-grown trees. Logging of native forests in all states must end right now, while there are still trees left standing.
– Julia Osborne, Nambucca, NSW
Don’t write off the writing
In your article “Collecting thoughts” (September 5-11) about a Covid-19 museum collection, the sign in a house window in the accompanying photo is described as “in a child’s scrawl”. Since each large letter has been neatly and carefully printed and spaced, an apology to the child would be a gallant gesture.
– Christopher Francis Clarke, Kambah, ACT
Cryptic clues headed south
It took several attempts before I solved the interrelated clues 13 across and 17 across and 20 down in Mungo’s intriguing crossword (September 5-11). June 21 is not the winter solstice but, in fact, the summer solstice. The equinoxes and solstices are named for the northern hemisphere and are (astronomical) technical nomenclature; they should not be casually redefined by editors, journalists and crossword setters no matter how erudite, entertaining or antipodean. It would greatly please me to see the terms June solstice, September equinox et cetera used, as they have the advantage of being unambiguous.
– Gary Hovey, Braidwood, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 19, 2020.
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