Karen Middleton’s report (“Exclusive: 26.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine wasted”, February 11-17) on the Halton review describes a confused, inarticulate, and sub-optimal government response to the Covid-19 pandemic to date. This deals mainly with the supply side of immunisation limiting organisational, economic and political requirements of vaccine coverage and immunisation rates. Of equal importance, however, is the demand side of immunisation coverage, which depends on effective communication and education of both the health services and specific population target groups, to address anxiety and complacency in vaccine uptake and boosters. A relevant campaign must acknowledge the varied communication needs of vulnerable groups, which may include the culturally and linguistically diverse, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, disabled, elderly, remote and all others for whom the existing campaign has failed. Sub-population campaigns need to be both target group specific and promoted by credible target group leaders and personalities. Given a high vaccination rate, herd immunity applies, making it difficult for disease to spread.
– David Wilson, Newport, QLD
Mike Seccombe’s depressing account of alleged sexual abuse within the Anglican Church (“Howard’s $12 million man”, February 11-17) provides further evidence that the church I grew up in has lost its bearings. It’s a long way from the caring, if somewhat paternalistic, answer to the prayers of the faithful and those in need. It’s even further from the beacon of hope and light and moral rectitude proclaimed by the conservative establishment. It’s unthinkable that this church is only now formally examining the questionable actions of the former governor-general in his role as archbishop of Brisbane more than 30 years ago. If it’s to deserve any ongoing credibility as a core element of our community, it is time for the church to make a genuine effort to recognise and repair its past wrongs.
– Jennifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
The insult to most Australians is that the governor-general should be paid not only an outrageous (tax-free) salary while in office but out-of-office expenses and a pension as well. If we must have a G-G, why not make the position honorary? After all, most governors-general have been financially secure after distinguished careers. No more jobs for the boys – let’s see how many volunteer their services.
– Stephen Trevarrow, New Farm, Qld
What a sobering read was “Wrapped in plastic” (Craig Leeson, February 11-17). The environmental and health impacts of single-use plastics are so significant, as is detailed so clearly in the article. Is it time for any market associated with the use of these hazardous substances to be closely regulated: for example, in a way similar to the market for drugs and pharmaceuticals? Is it time to progressively introduce a requirement that any item traded in any Australian market must meet a criterion of being recyclable, environmentally friendly and contribute to a circular economy?
– Ian Houston, Longreach, Qld
A healthy approach
Paul Bongiorno (“A wink and a Tudge”, February 11-17) discusses the cost of Medicare to the budget. One way to approach the problem would be to try to make the population healthier. A sugar tax would be a good start – this would discourage the consumption of unhealthy sugary drinks while at the same time increasing the government’s income. The tax on alcohol and tobacco could be increased – or in the case of tobacco, it could be banned altogether. We could follow New Zealand’s example and steadily increase the age at which it is legal to smoke. Get serious about promoting healthy diets and exercise!
– Miranda Jones, Drummond, Vic
The review of Sydney Modern (Naomi Stead, “Beauty and the beast”, February 4-10), like similar reviews elsewhere, remains silent on a fundamental question: should it have been built in central Sydney in the first place? When Sydney’s population centre is some 25 kilometres west, and west of that again is a growing metropolis with an appalling neglect of city facilities. What $344 million could have bought in a location – even two – in Sydney’s west. An irony here is that the architects, SANAA, have designed a recent new gallery for the Louvre – but it’s not in Paris, it’s in Lens, a decaying industrial town in northern France, with the whole project conceived as not just another gallery but as a region-wide regeneration project. And which, by accounts, is working well. More locally, just think of the similar impact – culturally and economically – of MONA in Hobart. Whatever its design merits, Sydney Modern remains an expensive lost opportunity and a monument to eastern Sydney’s hubris.
– Greg Paine, Erskinevile, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 18, 2023.
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