Best of Cartoons, July 12, 2020
Best of Cartoons, July 12, 2020
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said there were many incidents resulting in fines where “people have been stopped on their way to visit friends, hang out with mates at shopping centres or attending birthday parties”.
Police are enforcing travel restrictions through a series of vehicle checkpoints around metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire and issued 21 additional fines issued after 6967 vehicles were stopped between on Friday.
Drivers on one major St Kilda thoroughfare were stopped and asked their reason for travel on Saturday morning.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday declined to discuss individual breaches of the stage three lockdown rules that came into force earlier this week.
“Whenever you make a rule, there will always be room for interpretation in some parts,” he said
“If we were just dealing with ones where there was a genuine question of interpretation, that’s fine, but some of the examples that the commissioner cited yesterday, there’s no interpretation. That’s just not the right thing.”
On Friday, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton revealed a group of 16 people were fined, after they were sprung in a Dandenong backyard, after members of the birthday party had gone to KFC and bought 20 meals.
Mr Andrews said there was potential for different interpretation of the Chief Health Officer’s restrictions but asked Victorians not to spent time trying to get around the rules.
“Instead, follow them. We all have to do that. We don’t have the luxury of ignoring the reality we face, nor of thinking ‘there’s some other strategy that will just drive these numbers down so it doesn’t matter if I’m not compliant’,” he said.
“That thinking will only see more virus, more cases and a longer lockdown. I don’t want to have people locked in their homes any longer than is necessary.”
Health authorities announced an additional 216 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria on Saturday, with the death of man in his 90s taking the state’s death toll to 23.
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at email@example.com
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Thirty of the new cases are connected to known outbreaks. There are 49 Victorians in hospital and 15 of those are in intensive care.
Mr Andrews again urged Victorians to leave their homes for just four reasons: for groceries, to exercise, working or learning and caregiving.
“I know it is very frustrating, and it is not the place that we wanted to be in, but it’s a clear strategy.
“It will work, but only if every single Victorian and the whole community that will ultimately benefit from that strategy – it only works if we all play our part. It is the simple stuff, the common sense, just doing the right thing, the smart thing. That’s how we will get to the other side of this.”
Mr Andrews said it was “almost certain” that wearing masks would be part of Victoria’s eventual reopening.
‘It’s quite noticeable that many more people are wearing masks now, and I’m grateful to them,” he said.
He said two million Australian-made, perhaps even Victorian-made, masks would be ordered and distributed to “priority groups”.
“In the meantime… we have ordered some additional single-use masks to replenish any reuse in coming days and weeks. That will principally be in healthcare settings and other settings where we think there’s a really big reward.”
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has announced new testing sites will be set up in Mernda, Greensborough, Tarneit and on the Mornington Peninsula. There are now more than 150 testing sites across Victoria.
“Ultimately our ambition here is to provide a testing site to everyone within 10km of their home within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, the areas where we have a key focus at the present time,” she said.
Ms Mikakos said the state had now conducted 1,000,095 tests, more than 25,000 since yesterday.
“In terms of our testing rate per 100,000 people, that is now 16,606,” she said.
Ms Mikakos said Victoria’s hospitals and health services were “well supported and prepared”.
“They have been working since January to respond to this pandemic. Even when the numbers came down, they never paused in their efforts. They are well resourced and well trained to respond,” she said.
“We have ventilators in our warehouse. We have medical equipment in our warehouse and being distributed to our health services all the time, and personal protective equipment – 32 million masks are sitting in our warehouse as we speak.”
She also urged anyone who was sick with any illnesses to ensure they sought appropriate medical care.
“I take this opportunity to reassure the community that our hospitals remain safe for them to visit.”
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said there had now been more than 100 outbreaks across the state and acknowledged there were risks with schools.
“Certainly the Al-Taqwa outbreak had a lot of school-aged children.The risks were in school and out of school. And the physical distancing at school wasn’t ideal. I’m absolutely mindful of the risk with kids in school.”
Professor Sutton said it would be important to exclude unwell children as year 11 and 12 students returned to school, to ensure children were temperature tested and try to ensure social distancing within the classroom.
He also singled out aged care facilities as a source of concern.
“We are seeing single cases with staff members in aged care facilities. That’s the workforce that we have to be really mindful of,” he said.
Hanna Mills Turbet is the consumer affairs reporter for The Age.
Victorian health authorities believe the virus was brought into the school by a teacher who had an extended family gathering attended by a COVID-19-positive person. The teacher was at school for two days while infected.
But that is all the school community and the wider public have been told. Communication about the outbreak from the college’s administration and Victorian health authorities has been slow and, in some cases, ambiguous.
“The school doesn’t tell the parents information and that’s not right. The public need to know how it has happened. I pay a lot of money to Al-Taqwa and it is not good enough,” one parent told The Age.
Some teachers say they have been instructed not to talk to anyone about the virus outbreak. And it took more than a week for Al-Taqwa principal Omar Hallak to comment. He eventually put out a statement defending the school’s hygiene and distancing procedures, adding the school had spent $100,000 during the holidays on cleaning.
He has not responded to further questions from The Age this week.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services wrote to Al-Taqwa staff to assure them it was working “to contain” the spread of the virus. That the letter came just two days before the vast majority of the Islamic school’s 2300 staff and students came out of 14-day quarantine left some recipients puzzled.
Staff were also perplexed by the department’s position on return-to-school procedures. In the letter, it recommended staff and students bring with them to school proof they had recovered from the virus or had tested negative. Many believe this should be a mandatory requirement.
One possible explanation for the rapid transmission of COVID-19 throughout the school is the sheer number of students and staff who attend. Ensuring so many children and adolescents adhered to social distancing would be almost impossible.
“I personally saw there were [sic] no social distancing was practised when picking up kids. There are notice boards in place opposite the main office area saying parents are not allowed for the area where the palm tree is but each day the parents were freely allowed to walk, sit and wait and nobody was there to stop or question any parents,” Razeen Musthafa wrote on the college’s Facebook page.
“What is the point of having notice boards and sending messages in school box about all these great things you guys do when nothing was practised in real [sic]. When these basic things were ignored how can we feel confident about things inside?”
Another parent told The Age she knew some families at the school had been gathering on weekends in numbers far greater than the five allowed inside a home and 10 outdoors following new restrictions announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on June 20.
Several parents also complained about the state of the toilets at the school, claiming their children refused to use them because they were dirty and lacked soap. In response, the school administration acknowledged the toilets needed attention.
The Al-Taqwa outbreak took another twist on Thursday when Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, confirmed an “epidemiological link” to infections in public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne.
“The communities do cross over between Truganina and these towers,” Professor Sutton said on Thursday.
Some children from the tower precincts are bussed each day to Al-Taqwa. Despite revealing the link, Professor Sutton cautioned that there were likely many causes for the outbreaks in the towers.
On the school’s Facebook page, many parents are urging its leadership to keep the school closed until the virus spread is under control. Others, though, are philosophical.
“Let’s not forget what our religion teaches us. What Allah has planned for us no one can stop it.”
Richard Baker is a multi-award winning investigative reporter for The Age.
Leading Aged Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said the number of aged care homes with infections was increasing. “The clear and present danger persists,” Mr Rooney said. “This is a matter of life and death.”
He said visitors to residential care services must take personal responsibility and carefully comply with local rules introduced to protect their loved ones in residential care.
“This includes enhanced protections for residents and staff, including limiting visitations,” he said.
Glendale said four of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday night.
None of them has been identified as a close contact of the 90-year-old resident, who returned a positive test after being admitted to hospital on July 6. The man continued to receive treatment in hospital.
It was unclear whether the staff members had contracted the virus while working at Glendale.
Mr Hancock said while no aged care provider wanted to be in this situation, Glendale had been planning for this scenario for months and was as prepared as it could be.
He said all residents were in their rooms, the home was closed to visitors until further notice and staff were instructed not to enter any other aged care homes.
“Given the scale of testing we have undertaken, we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that we may receive more positive test results.”
Jemaina Santos, whose 92-year-old mother-in-law Emma Kotsakis is at Glendale, said the aged care home was a nice place.
“I can’t blame them for what’s happened. This is the first time something like this has happened and everyone is struggling to cope.”
When Ms Santos heard on the news that a resident of Glendale had been diagnosed with COVID-19 this week she panicked. “I called Glendale and it was so hard to get through – the phone line was jammed,” she said.
Ms Santos and her husband Sonny – Ms Kotsakis’ youngest son – are not the primary contact for the aged care centre and when Ms Santos finally got through, she could not get confirmation of who had been infected. “It was a bit of an uneasy situation.”
Before the pandemic Mr and Ms Santos and their sons, PJ and Aron, used to visit Ms Kotsakis at Glendale every Sunday after church.
“We miss her terribly,” Ms Santos said. “Everyone loves her – even in the centre, staff would say she is very lovely and doesn’t complain.”
The family is close: Ms Kotsakis lived with them for 15 years in both the Philippines and Australia.
“I used to say I married her as well,” Ms Santos said. “It was a joy having her, she looked after my children, she helped us financially.”
She is worried about Ms Kotsakis and has requested a zoom call with her. “My mother-in-law is vulnerable – everyone there is vulnerable. It’s very hard.”
Meanwhile, aged care provider Benetas said it had made the “difficult” decision to temporarily restrict visitor access to all nine of its aged care homes in metropolitan Melbourne.
A staff member who worked at one of its homes – St George’s in Altona Meadows- tested positive on July 7.
For the next six weeks only essential personnel including key staff, health care providers, caterers and cleaners would be able to access the centres.
“Given the significantly heightened risk of community transmission across metropolitan Melbourne we believe this is an important preventative measure to protect the health of those in our care,” CEO Sanda Hills said in a statement.
Benetas said before reimposing visitor restrictions on July 8 it had spoken to more than 250 residents, with 84 per cent supporting the decision.
“Benetas understands however that not being able to see a loved one is very difficult and its disappointing for everyone that we are in this position.”
However, Council of the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said blanket visitor bans in situations where there were no coronavirus cases were in breach of the national industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during COVID-19.
“We are getting a growing number of complaints where people are getting no notice, no information and no indication of when the situation would be reviewed,” he said.
Mr Yates said aged care centres should continue to allow compassionate visits if a resident was at the end of their life or a family member was playing a vital role in their physical or mental health, such as feeding them every day.
Dr Sarah Russell, the director of Aged Care Matters, said it was reasonable for aged care homes where there had been a positive COVID test to be locked down while all residents were tested.
“It is not reasonable for other aged care homes in Melbourne to be locked down,” she said.
“Lockdown regulations allow families to provide caring duties for older relatives living in the community. They should also be allowed to continue to provide caring duties for older people living in aged care homes.”
Jewel Topsfield is Melbourne Editor of The Age.
One young Pan Pacific Hotel quarantine guest, resplendent in bike shorts, took advantage of a sunny winter’s day to escape and take selfies performing a series of impressive handstands at South Wharf.
Recently China has become more belligerent – Hong Kong, the border with India, defensive systems in the South China Sea and the re-education of the Uighurs, to mention a few.
President Xi Jinping is president for life. The Politburo Standing Committee of seven members, including the head of internal security, forms the executive government. The People’s Assembly appears to have become a rubber stamp for the executive government. Unanimous endorsement of executive decisions is the norm. An oligarchy with unlimited powers will become much harder to work with for all Western governments. Repression of freedom and increasing militarism are likely. Our defence build-up is necessary
Brett Osborn, Mornington
When the United States took over as the world superpower from Britain, there was a comfortable similarity in beliefs, values, language, political system etc. China’s growth is now threatening to usurp the US and we do not like this. So as little children, we are kicking and screaming to try and stop this happening. We exaggerate, lie, impose sanctions, become paranoid and interfere internally in an attempt to put the upstarts back in their ‘‘rightful’’ subservient position.
OK, but if you corner a rat, it will turn and fight. The US believes it has a God-given right to be the world’s superpower and its sheriff, Australia, is now preparing to have a disastrous war with China. There is a better way to live in harmony.
Roy Olliff, Mont Albert North
I do not understand the handwringing over the issuing of visas to permit certain Hong Kong residents. Do we really believe the Chinese government will allow those who can afford to move to Australia to leave Hong Kong, bringing their wealth with them? Will this end up being another empty gesture designed to goad China when we have sat back and allowed a situation to develop where we need it far more than it needs us, and it can use Australia as an example to dissuade other nations that may be tempted to stand up to it?
Graham Devries, Camberwell
In the wake of China’s draconian security law being exercised in Hong Kong, what will the Morrison and Andrews governments do to protect eligible Chinese residents in Australia? Expressions of ‘‘sadness’’ and ‘‘concern’’ about the depredations of the aggressive, totalitarian Chinese state will not suffice. May we infer that Australians detained in China have been cravenly written off lest Beijing be offended?
Frank Carleton, Longwarry
I wonder if the Prime Minister and some premiers have considered that not all overseas Australians were in a position to return earlier. Some, like our daughter and son-in-law, were fulfilling work contracts overseas. Jobs were not available here in their health-related fields when they graduated. They now plan to return to do important work in regional Victoria. The current state of uncertainty and possible financial imposts are very worrying for those wanting to return and for their families.
David Anthony, Ballan
May I suggest we resurrect the Grim Reaper ads that were used so long ago. This could be a way to jolt some of our public into taking the situation in Victoria more seriously, especially the younger generation when it comes to social distancing.
Jeanette van’t Riet, Montrose
Critics of the Premier for letting ‘‘the COVID-19 genie out of the bottle’’ are missing the mark. As Stephen Duckett (Comment, 9/7) correctly observes, we never achieved elimination of the virus, only suppression. It was always out there, and the discussion was about how we would respond to, and contain, future outbreaks.
Outbreaks are difficult to contain when people cross suburb and postcode boundaries regularly as part of their daily routine. That there have been further outbreaks was a known risk. That the ‘‘local’’ outbreaks have quickly gone metropolitan should not surprise.
Kris Hansen, Ringwood
Stephen Duckett makes a powerful case for trying to eliminate the virus from Victoria. The decision to lock down for six weeks makes it a real possibility. But several other things are necessary.
First, sending VCE students to school to transmit the virus between families is a mistake. Keeping students of any age separated by 1.5metres for an entire day is unrealistic. Face-to-face teaching for year 12 exams cannot take priority over the health of the community.
Second, the hard lockdown of the unfortunate residents in high-rise towers has been vindicated by the terrible infection rate of 1 in 30 there. But the government cannot suspend their freedom of movement, then indulge a thousand or more people in another hotspot area who refuse to be tested. Just one of them needs to be infectious to make the six-week sacrifice by all of us pointless.
Third, after the lockdown is lifted, we cannot allow five and then 20 visitors into our homes. The idea that 20 people will fan out over a property is a fantasy. The only message that many took from the previous limit of 20 people was ‘‘the danger is over, throw a party if you like’’.
Alec Kahn, Brunswick West
I was gobsmacked to learn that staff and students at Al-Taqwa College will not be required to provide proof that they are free of COVID-19 when they return to school (The Age, 10/7). Given the current level of infection there, every teacher and student, and their families. should be tested.
Daniel Andrews should explain why this should not be so. In detail. He needs to regain our confidence and stage one might be in explaining and justifying the actions being taken – or, indeed, not being taken. He can drop the lectures and haranguing. He no longer has the credibility to do that.
Russell Edwards, Carlton
During the first lockdown, I was responsible for the home learning for my two grandchildren. One of my mantras is that mistakes are your best lessons and you will not get into trouble for them unless you learn nothing and keep making the same mistake.
Most research is based on trial and error and no one vilifies our researchers for this approach. So why do we not afford the same for our politicians? If we did, they might be more transparent about their actions and more readily apologise and seek alternatives solutions.
The community, media and opposition especially wait to pounce on the ‘‘mistake’’ as if it were an avoidable sin. We see this particularly from Michael O’Brien. It is time to give Daniel Andrews his due and trust he analyses mistakes that will not be made again.
Carol Fountain, Mentone
I have been wishing trains, buses and trams would open their windows to avoid recycling virus particles through their heating systems. Now a Japanese ‘‘supercomputer’’ says train windows should be left open as this ‘‘could increase ventilation by two or three times, lowering the concentration of ambient microbes’’ (The Age, 8/7).
Perhaps lifts could have their manholes opened and shopping malls could leave their entry doors open to promote air flow. What do the world’s infection experts have to say about this?
David Mackay, Macleod
I have finished reading all the back copies of The Age’s supplements since I last wrote in (Letters, 9/5). Now it is time to prune the roses which gets rid of a lot of frustration and aggression.
Helen Caldwell, Ashburton
Four months on, I am still dealing with my Dad’s death and still waiting for probate to be completed. It would be so much easier if the states and territories recognised each other’s supreme courts for probate, and if banks, institutions, utilities etc did the same paperwork and had the same regulations. It would be easier if there were the option to get the death certificate online, and that everyone accepted that.
Having to deal with different countries, as well as our states and territories – and they all want something slightly different – makes for a very long and emotional experience.
Asa Smith, Montmorency
So Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt thinks it is in my best interest to have my super fund invested in coal (The Age, 10/7). It is in everyone’s best interest to leave a habitable planet for future generations. After all, why should we work so hard to provide for our children only to jeopardise their futures through our investment decisions? It is time for everyone to check exactly where their superannuation is going.
Lynn Franke, Kew
Several recent articles have praised the concept of superseding stamp duty with a universal land tax. But they have also pointed out the difficulties. I believe that the ACT is currently implementing such a change. Surely we can learn from its experience.
Lawrence Reddaway, Hawthorn
Adding to Chadstone Shopping Centre beggars belief. The reality of retail going online is starker than ever with large stores having to close once again. Even before the lockdown, many items and shoppers were noticeably missing.
Frances Damon, Tooradin
To kickstart its economy, Britain has cut its VAT, its counterpart of our GST. This makes obvious sense – lower prices in our cash-poor times. Likewise other countries. So why are some strange persons in our midst pushing us to increase the GST to dampen our spirits and reduce our spending power?
Peter Freckleton, Hampton
Jenny Sinclair (Comment, 10/7), if you can ‘‘wash down’’ a bottle of wine in the time it takes you to walk from the Queen Vic Market to the Flagstaff Gardens, we need to talk.
Robert Lang, Toorak
Daniel Andrews, if you are going to treat the Mornington Peninsula the same as the rest of Melbourne, can we please have a Metro train?
John Heggie, Hastings
Will Victorians who are caught going interstate in boats be sent to Nauru?
George and Liz Reed, Wheelers Hill
Refugees from Hong Kong should ensure they don’t arrive by boat.
Max Nankervis, Middle Park
The same humanity applied to Hong Kongers must be applied to all refugees.
Marilyn Willis, Kallista
Kanye West to run for president? That’ll be a bum rap.
Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne
Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army said it best: ‘‘Don’t panic, don’t panic’’.
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda
The virus also thinks Melbourne is the most liveable city in Australia.
Rajiv Khanna, Canterbury
Thank goodness we have Dan the Man, not O’Brien the Whine.
Pam King, Bridgewater on Loddon
Uncertain times. About as uncertain as an Andrews’ press conference.
David Price, Camberwell
Andrews can’t personally stop the spread. It’s like trying to herd cats as people scatter around the state.
Mary Veale, Ascot Vale
O’Brien should patent his ‘‘retrospectoscope’’, flog it for a fortune and retire to a tropical island.
Dick Danckert, Torquay
‘‘Ich bin ein Melburnian’’ – a poor attempt at statesmanship from the PM.
John Weston, Melton South
No blame game from Morrison. Keep up the good work, sir.
John Rawson, Mernda
Victoria, the place not to leave.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale
Sacre bleu! What do stage 5 restrictions involve?
Tim Nolan, Brighton
Such a great job under such great pressure, Daniel Andrews.
Wendy Batros, Templestowe
We’re waiting for a mea culpa from security firms which accepted the money but not the responsibility.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale
Please, for one day could we only have positive, non-blaming letters where we don’t preach. Oops, did I just preach?
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough
To submit a letter to The Age, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your home address and telephone number.
Dr Lindsay Grayson, a leading infectious disease expert, was scathing this week in his claim that ‘‘the Victorian Health Department is one of the worst-funded and dysfunctionally organised in the nation’’. While strongly praising those who work in the department, he blames a lack of resources at their disposal and its poor management structure for its inability to properly manage the enormous logistical response needed to combat the pandemic.
With anything as complex as the spread of an extremely contagious virus, laying blame for an outbreak is no simple task. What we do know is that COVID-19 will thrive in any environment where it finds a weakness in our defences, whether that be an individual breaking the rules, a workplace failing to follow proper protocols or a government department lacking the resources to properly carry out its obligations. Premier Daniel Andrews has said on many occasions individual responsibility is absolutely central to combating the virus. He is right.
But what is also essential is a government that is transparent and accountable for the decisions it makes. While hindsight is a wonderful thing, mistakes have been made. Admitting to those mistakes is not to undermine the remarkable efforts being made every day by many thousands of people playing a role in combating the virus. Instead, it helps us avoid them in future.
The Age has supported much of Mr Andrews’ response to the pandemic. He is facing a crisis on a scale few of his predecessors could even imagine. But when he repeatedly brushes off credible criticism and avoids difficult questions by deferring them all to inquiries, he leaves himself open to harsher judgment. Public trust in government is crucial during this time. That has to be earned, and cannot easily be restored once it is lost.
Dr Cain said the lockdown has exacerbated this situation, but not all experts agree.
The circadian master clock, located in the hypothalamus, influences an extraordinary array of bodily processes, including sleep, obviously, but also hormones, digestion, and body temperature.
The clock is set by exposure to light. Human eyes have certain cells dedicated to the task of sensing light levels and signalling our circadian system.
Dr Cain argued modern lives exposed people to enormous amounts of artificial light which can mess with the body clock. If the clock is out of sync with people’s lives, they can end up living in a perpetual jet lag, he said.
“If your clock is not getting those regular signals – and it needs to be reset every day,” he said, mood and sleep “kind of fall apart.”
Australia’s lockdown has resulted in many people being confined to their homes for months at a time. That has presented Dr Cain with a giant human experiment to test his theory.
Before lockdown began, he had been running an experiment involving people wearing small light-monitoring pins on their clothing.
The research has yet to be published but Dr Cain said he found people were dramatically over-lighting their homes.
“The average home was bright enough to suppress about 50 per cent of our melatonin, all the way up until sleep. So that signal promoting sleep in the average home, it’s halved.”
It’s likely that being stuck at home during lockdown has made those effects worse, said co-director of the Behaviour-Brain-Body Research Centre at the University of South Australia, Professor Siobhan Banks.
“It’s potentially one of the factors that could lead to moodiness and anxiety and depression.
“Obviously there’s a lot going on, and there is going to be a lot of factors that affect how people feel. But definitely the disruption to sleep and our normal circadian rhythms would certainly be playing a part.”
University of Sydney circadian rhythm researcher Dr Yu Sun Bin said the basic science was sound, but questioned whether the lockdown really was causing us to spend more time inside.
“The reason I’m sceptical with that is normal life, we spend so much time in doors, that for a lot of us COVID has not changed that. I’m sitting at home, in artificial lighting, in front of a computer – and that’s what I’d be doing normally anyway.”
One thing the researchers agreed on is that if individuals are feeling sluggish, moody and tired, they should consider getting some early-morning sun, perhaps by walking outside without sunglasses.
Natural sunlight is brighter than artificial light and comes in a spectrum that has more of an effect on your body clock.
And sunlight at the start of the day is essential to setting the clock, Dr Cain said.
The professor himself takes things a step further, turning on all the lights in the morning and turning them down after dusk, leaving him “living in gloom”.
Liam is The Age and Sydney Morning Herald’s science reporter