“Best-case scenario” to me means zero cases and zero deaths. Friday’s figures are far worse than that. Whatever the Premier’s idea of “best-case scenario” might be, perhaps he means “better than the worst case” – and the worst case is something that his Health Minister has already predicted. Ross Krippner, Byron Bay
In the last eight days, NSW reported more than 300,000 new infections and 100 deaths due to COVID-19. It is more than jarring to listen to the Premier and health officials using the term “it is more than pleasing that we are below modelling”. Do these people hear themselves speak? Dierk Mohr, Turramurra
The number of deaths from COVID-19 in NSW keeps rising. If these numbers were our daily road toll, there would be immediate changes to road rules. Why are we just accepting these numbers? Ken Pares, Forster
When COVID-19 started we were lucky that our isolation meant we could watch and learn from what happened overseas. Now everything seems to be a surprise to the government. It was a surprise that Omicron, after racing through the South African and British populations, would do that same thing here when we opened up. It’s a surprise that when people get ill they can’t work and won’t spend, badly affecting the precious economy. The biggest surprise seems to be that simply making announcements of how well you are handling things doesn’t work as well as proper planning and preparation. Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West
The current system of management of COVID-19 by politicians is looking totally inadequate. We see mismatches between well-predicted needs and late delivered supplies to point of use, vaccines and RATs are examples. What’s next? Our national health is too important now to be left in the hands of only political leaders of political parties. It is time to expand cabinets to include peak bodies of the community and industry with some representation of the opposition. Seems a good way to restore public confidence as we live towards an unknown future. Les Reedman, Cooranbong
Game, set and match to the Prime Minister
Djok shock (“Novak Djokovic’s visa cancelled, throwing Australian Open draw into chaos”, smh.com.au, January 14). Julie Robinson, Cardiff
Scott Morrison’s focus groups have met and indicated they are more likely to vote for him if he cancels the visa. I wish we had a competent government that governed in the interest of Australia instead of focusing on nothing but what might get us elected. Watch out for the next diversion. Michael McMullan, Avoca Beach
The strident call for some spine and leadership has at last been heard. Greg Pitty, Wentworth Falls
Hawke v Djokovic proves Australia is a land in which everyone is treated the same before the law, and public administration is infused with probity and fairness. Alex Mattea, Sydney
It’s a hard-knock life
Oh, Andrew Webster, don’t be so mean to our arrogant, narcissistic, multimillionaire professional tiddly winkers (“Whinging sports stars another thing making us sick”, January 14). The poor fragile things will only burst into tears. Jack Robertson, Birchgrove
Join the Hillsong bandwagon
Music promoters should learn from Hillsong, rather than complain (“Hillsong camp ordered by NSW Health to stop singing, dancing in breach of COVID-19 rules”, smh.com.au January 13). The system is there to be gamed. Adopt the same “religion” business model, and make decent tax-free profits. It’s not just health regulations you can get around, you can put on a music festival without harassment from the police and sniffer dogs. Ian Waters, Surry Hills
Politicians not fit to pick president
Paul Keating believes that any directly elected president would follow the US model with all the problems seen in recent years (“Keating blasts new republic proposal”, January 14). This is not the case. The president of the Republic of Ireland is a popularly elected president whose role is largely ceremonial and similar to the role of governor-general in Australia. Do we really want to leave the election of a president in the hands of politicians who, despite a clear mandate from the population, refuse to implement a workable federal version of ICAC?
Gina Hay, Bayview
The Westminster system does not provide opportunity to directly elect our nation’s prime minister: the winning political party holds that privilege. To directly elect an Australian head of state would necessarily elevate that role to more than its intended ceremonial one. While I support in principle the notion of severing ties with the British monarchy, the risk of compromising power balances in our current political system through any direct election process is far too great. James Laukka, Epping
The Australian Republican Movement’s proposals represent a workable compromise between supporters of a republic who want a directly elected head of state and those favouring a minimal parliamentary appointment model.
To those who suggest we don’t need a head of state, I would point to most sporting contests: those games could simply not function without an umpire or referee. How much more important is that role in the operation of our parliamentary system? Martyn Yeomans, Sapphire Beach
I cannot share Corbin Duncan’s view (“Republic model is the worst of all worlds”, January 14). This is very similar to how the Australian of the Year is chosen. That resulted in Grace Tame, so it gets my vote. Stewart Reed, Neutral Bay
Unwavering fight for justice honours murdered brother
I wish to express my admiration for Steve Johnson and his decades-long fight for justice for his brother Scott, whose killing by a confessed gay-basher in 1998 has finally ended in a murder conviction (“‘Guilty, guilty, guilty’: Sydney man convicted of ’80s killing”, January 14).
Steve, the way you indefatigably stood up for Scott’s intrinsic human worth – in spite of insurmountable institutional resistance and at a time when gay men were often deemed unworthy of basic rights – is extraordinary.
Former Wollongong newsreader Ross Warren, who met a similar fate, headed out in search of fun on the night that he disappeared and was never seen again. Searching for him the following day, his friends found Ross’ abandoned car in Bondi and his keys at the base of a nearby cliff, evidence that he had likely met a violent death. In response, Bondi detectives shrugged and asked: what could they possibly do?
Thankfully, those days are past. LGBTQI+ people have benefited from improvements in the NSW Police, due enormously to Steve’s unwavering commitment to his brother, Dr Scott Johnson.
Steve: while the world is a poorer place for the loss of Scott, I hope you can draw some comfort from this result, which honours you both. Thank you so, so much. Tom Pitham, Wollongong
Too hot for comfort
The Coalition’s climate policy will only kick into action when the temperature reaches 60°C (“Hottest temperature in Australia since 1960 recorded in WA’s north as mercury soars to 50.7 degrees”, smh.com.au, January 14). Greg Thompson, Bega
Howard’s Trojan Horse
I read John Howard’s opinion piece with interest, nodding along in agreement until we get to the part about school history curriculum (“National Archives need support to preserve our unique history”, Jan 13). There it is: the Trojan Horse, somehow linking the role of the National Archives with a misleading description of the ideological battle presently being waged by the Federal Education Minister as one to “inject a better understanding of our nation’s past achievements”.
Howard is right that an “open canvassing of the blemishes in our history” be considered alongside our achievements. However, the Federal Education Minister clearly seeks to emphasise a positive spin on history, proclaiming that students should leave school with a “love of country” amid his concerns young Australians may be unwilling to defend the country as previous generations have done.
Setting aside how patronising that is to intelligent young minds, Howard’s championing of the Education Minister’s desire for schools to teach what sounds like patriotism rather than history, diminishes an otherwise important piece acknowledging the significance of the National Archives and it’s role in preserving our nation’s history – in all its breadth and complexity. Sam Watkins, Kyogle
Your correspondents fail to mention the most egregiously undemocratic aspect of Howard’s prime ministership: the fact that he was able to commit Australia to war in Iraq and Afghanistan without Parliamentary approval. It is still the case that the Prime Minister alone can commit Australia to war. It’s to be hoped that all candidates for the next election will add war powers reform to their policy platforms. Gayle, Davies North Sydney
Boycotts have impact
Your correspondent is being a little unfair in accusing boycotters of hypocrisy in making a stand against only one of many when it suits (Letters, January 14). Surely boycotting by normally powerless individuals or small groups is most effective when a specific opportunity to have an impact arises. Alynn Pratt, Grenfell
Queen’s time of need
I have never been a follower of the British Royal family (“Prince Andrew returns all royal patronages to Queen amid sex abuse court saga”, smh.com.au, January 14). But what the Queen is going through with the loss of one of her sons, who hasn’t died, must be very hard for her to come to grips with. If her husband’s recent death wasn’t enough, the latest effort of her son is the last thing she needed. At least her family will be there to help her in this time of need. Dallas Fraser, Currumbin (Qld)
Ronnie’s records live on
I was fortunate to have seen Ronnie Spector sing at a Hells Angels benefit concert in New York during 1982, that went from midnight to dawn (“Ronnie Spector, leader of girl group The Ronettes, dies at 78”, smh.com.au, January 14). She strolled onto stage with lots of hair, not sure if it was a beehive, and burst into song, her voice sounded as good as her ’60s records and even better that it was live.
However, her set ended abruptly when, for still unknown reasons, the bikers started booing her to the point where she eventually fled the stage in what looked like tears. For those of us enjoying her performance we were too terrified to yell out she return. It was a night of rock and roll like no other. We’re fortunate we can still listen to Ronnie’s records knowing they are examples of sublime pop music. Con Vaitsas, Ashbury
Isn’t it ironic
Perhaps 2022 could be The Year of the Ironic Remark. We have strong contenders already and the year is just starting. There’s Peter Dutton calling for compassionate responses from others, especially celebrities, about human rights abuses in China.
We have had Scott Morrison continuing his call for people to be “personally responsible” for their well-being in the pandemic. This from a person who has shirked any kind of responsibility for just about anything.
The same PM who said that the RATs could not be made free to all “because somebody ends up paying” had to admit that he, in fact, gets these tests free. It will be a strong field. We are off to a flying start. Brett Hendry, Boambee East
Living in the real world
After 100 years of doing its best to keep governments and organisations of all persuasions in touch with the realities of the lives of the families of our country, the CWA has proved it can cope with anything (“‘Initiators, fighters’: Why the CWA is more than scones”, January 14).
Happy 100th birthday CWA. Thank you for the tireless efforts of your many volunteers over the years. Our country owes you a huge debt of gratitude. Valerie Little, Tathra
Music to my ears
I, too, am the age of the Beatles song but can I be considered semi-relevant and only slightly officially ancient as I knew almost all of the songs and also know to put the lime in the coconut (Letters, January 14). Ian Clarke, Terrigal
The test of musical relevance is not do you listen to songs you already like?
The test of musical relevance is do you like songs you haven’t already heard? Ben Aveling, Alexandria
In a sweat
I would wager that HRH Prince Andrew is sweating now (“Prince Andrew returns all royal patronages to Queen amid sex abuse saga”, smh.com.au, January 14). Luke Connery, Manly Vale
Let the debate begin
Surely the word of our pandemic years is irresponsibility (Letters, January 14). Closely followed by mismanagement. George Zivkovic, Northmead
“I do not think in over 40 years of reading letters I have been more upset and full of rage than when reading the account of a young nurse’s working day in an aged care home,” wrote Wendy Atkins of Cooks Hill. Many responded similarly about the letter describing the young nurse’s long shifts, with lack of training and support. The letter, like others published this week, was an insight into how dire the COVID situation is for many, with personal stories “cutting to the terrible heart of the matter”, as described by Margaret Johnson of Paddington. “‘Leadership void’ is what we have been putting up with for months and this is where it has landed us. The sight of a pontificating PM or a boyish Premier clearly out of his depth, fill us with contempt.”
There were plenty of stories about the reality of living with COVID-19: shop assistants confronted by sick customers in store; the suffering of elderly relatives in nursing homes; the difficulty of finding a rapid test; today’s letter about much-needed RATs being diverted from the disability sector, and plenty of examples of the unreliability of RAT results.
David MacKintosh of Berkeley Vale reflected the anxiety clearly felt by many: “A fine for failing to report a positive result from a test I cannot obtain and many will be unable to afford; public health NSW style. I wanted to write a letter sparkling with invective at this latest display of political hubris but I find I am too tired. They do not care what we think, nor what happens to us. I give in.”
Thank you for your heartfelt contributions this week, stay safe and keep writing. Pat Stringa, Letters editor
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