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With case numbers out of control, let’s support our healthcare workers

Our ‘health system is creaking at the seams’ (January 1). Yet we have money in the kitty to spend on NYE fireworks. What does that tell us about our society’s values.

Dr Liza Bybak, Bellevue Hill

Encouraged by Perrottet to go to regional NSW for the holiday season, many people have come to the South Coast. Trouble is, there are no rapid antigen tests available from Batemans Bay to Moruya and the testing clinic (there is only one) at Moruya was closed on Sunday. My son has symptoms, he is due back at work today, yet can’t get a test or get tested. Thanks to the National Cabinet and the NSW government we have all gone through so much to keep us all safe, but I feel now totally let down by the system that cannot provide the healthcare we need. – Georgina Kennedy, Goulburn

Premier Perrottet states that in the Westminster system government ministers are the decision-makers, not the public service. Like many of his colleagues, he conveniently overlooks the other convention within this system that those same ministers accept full responsibility when subterfuge (Transport Asset Holding) is exposed or when things go pear-shaped (iCare) and resign.

Neil Craddock, Wollongong

Today’s COVID-19 stats are 3-4 days old due to PCR test processing delays, but they are also a gross underestimate as many people with symptoms, like me, gave up trying to get tested. Last Wednesday, my husband and daughter went for a PCR test due to symptoms, despite all 3 of us testing negative on rapid antigen tests the night before. I was too sick to go out. January 1, my husband and daughter both received positive PCR results. This means I clearly have COVID-19 too, but I’m not in the stats. I am sure there are many other stories like mine out there.-

Name withheld, Croydon

It seems we have now moved from the pandemic’s public health phase to the political health phase. – Leslie Burnett, Double Bay

We have done so well. Our little town embraced vaccinations and led the way, diligently wore masks, checked in and supported each other by isolating after trips out of town, and now Omicron has arrived. Our aged community is now in peril. Caring for the vulnerable has driven policy to date, what now? – Annabel Marley, Cootamundra

Perilous to assume the virus has stopped mutating

Dr Nick Coatsworth (“Welcome to 2022, the year the pandemic ends”, January 1-2) writes: “The virus itself has also helped us. It has evolved into a definitely milder illness with a complete uncoupling of case numbers and hospitalisations.” If he really believes that, then he should look at the data again. While there are fewer hospitalisations per new case than for Delta, the log slopes of new cases and new hospitalisations – when averaged over five days – all show exponential rises with time constants which are uncannily similar. – Warren King, Hornsby Heights

I could be forgiven for thinking that Dr Coatsworth’s piece is a political manifesto rather than a serious distillation based on virology and epidemiology. The most egregious error is the omission of the potential for the virus to mutate further. Whether these are variants of “interest” or “concern”, as classified by the WHO, will be what decides whether we say goodbye to COVID-19. – Dr Elliott Savdie, Darlinghurst

I’m wondering, after reading this, if Dr Coatsworth is looking to be parachuted into a safe Liberal seat prior to the federal election? – Wendy Atkins, Cooks Hill

I suspect Dr Coatsworth has been a little too optimistic in his assessment as well as too harsh on those advocating disease control. The fact that Omicron happened to be a milder version is comforting but the next mutation might not be so benign and while ever the virus circulates in countries with low vaccination rates, it is almost certain that another version will arrive. – Don Owers, Dudley

What a good start for the new year to have a reasonable, reassuring and rational view of the situation at hand from Dr Coatsworth. – Kath Maher, Lidcombe

The selective and optimistic prognostications of Dr Coatsworth suggest he may have joined the same universe inhabited by Pollyanna. Anne Summers’ measured perspective (“I return to Australia and its march of folly”, January 1-2) is more like it. – Gillian Appleton, Paddington

The contrast between Summers’ article and that of Coatsworth is salutary. Summers describes real life here and in New York, while Coatsworth spins a politically biased fantasy. The facts are that we have a Prime Minister who not only didn’t “hold a hose”, but failed to secure adequate supplies of vaccine and is now abrogating his responsibility by leaving the states to source their own rapid antigen tests. “March of folly” indeed. – Marina Garlick, Balmain

Summers’ critique of current Australian governments’ (both state and federal) Omicron management is harsh and not well-informed. Masks, social isolation, vaccinations and testing are all sensible strategies and not new ideas (which would be very welcomed). Alas, not all of us have the same choices as Summers and are likely to test positive eventually regardless of changing government rules and access to rapid antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction tests. Maybe Summers has returned to paradise too soon. – Catherine Mullane, Petersham

Quiet Australia myth beached

Frank Bongiorno dissects the Prime Minister’s constant theme of ‘How good is Australia?’ and exposes its shallowness. (“Where art thou, quiet Australians?”, January 1-2). Nostalgia for a time when the beach was the great leveller in Australian society won’t bring it back. Summers spent beyond the reach of email or mobile was once spelt in total laziness and relaxation. Cheap beachside accommodation meant seemingly endless days by the sand and sea and was affordable for many more families. For city folk, exorbitant holiday rentals now cut short our stays and kids no longer set off by themselves on long day trips to the beach by public transport. A whole aspect of the Australian way of life is in danger of disappearing without us quite noticing, and there is probably no going back. Perhaps his ‘quieter Australians’ are already a vanishing breed. – Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Bongiorno’s assertion that Morrison’s messaging is carefully calibrated to exploit people’s weariness with the restrictions on their lives seems to sum up our PM. He is a family man, a man of faith, every person’s friend until his message meets reality. His reality is not grounded in our reality. If you keep blaming someone else for the problems besetting our country, it eventually becomes clear where the blame actually lies, even to the “quiet Australians”. I would normally suggest when looking for someone to blame, have a look in the mirror! Of course, the warning is to be careful, remember what happened to Narcissus. Or is it already too late? – Geoff Nilon, Mascot

Howard is no hero

The myth that is John Howard and the righteousness of Liberal government continues (“The year Howard drew his line in the sand”, January 1-2). In reality, its foundation is built of jingoism and inequality and driven by the pursuit of power. Tragically, it still remains a cancer within Australia’s political body. – Wayne Pearson, Wingham

Your excellent article reminds us of the true story behind the man conservative Australians hail as a Liberal party hero. But Howard is no hero. His opportunistic dog-whistling nurtured the white supremacist threat seen in Cronulla in 2005 and that has become so much more dangerous today, as well as its accompanying political movements, One Nation and Palmer’s United Australia Party. That Australia survives as a relatively free democracy is in spite of John Howard. His only legacy is a regressive tax and gun laws he most likely wouldn’t have introduced if the Port Arthur tragedy happened later in his cynical political journey towards nationalism. – Phil Bradshaw, Naremburn

A dark knight

Tony Blair, the co-architect of the Iraq invasion which caused death and misery to millions, has been knighted (“Queen makes Tony Blair a knight”, smh.com.au, January 2). The small amount of credibility the British honours system had has now been eliminated. – Arthur Carruthers, Little Bay

Make America see again

I read with concern the article by Farrah Tomazin about American democracy again heading down the drain (“Trump keeps his hand in the game”, January 1-2). Surely intelligent people living there will see right through Trump and ensure his only legacies will be the double impeachment, denial of a certified election and failure at a second presidential run. Otherwise, the parallels with Hitler and Germany in the 1930s could lead to an authoritarian regime, like Myanmar, where they may end up as a pseudo-Republic of Gilead. A criminal offence to give food and water to people waiting in line to vote? Really? – Rex Toomey, Port Macquarie

Disproportionate reaction

While I join the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and many Indigenous elders in condemning the damage caused to Old Parliament House during a ‘smoking ceremony’ and always agree that two wrongs don’t make a right, I find the reaction of some correspondents to be massively disproportionate (Letters, January 1-2). After the constant, often deliberate destruction of Aboriginal heritage, many thousands of years old and irreplaceable, over more than two centuries, and as recently as Juukan Gorge, the massacres of Indigenous Australians, the denial of rights, excessive incarceration and illness – some of which still continues – to regard this as putting at risk reconciliation says far more about some white Australians than it does about the ill-considered behaviour of a few protesters. – Al Svirskis , Mount Druitt

No amount of “vandalism” can in any way reduce the rights of First Nations people to reconciliation, and acknowledgment of the centuries of abuse they have suffered. The fact that some have had to resort to burning down a door is a far less indictment of them than it is of white Australia’s for taking so long to afford them appropriate dignity and justice. The sentiments expressed are shameful. – Gary Hare, Narrabeen

I believe in reconciliation. A better understanding of Aboriginal culture is essential to make peace with an Australian past fraught with so much trauma. A fire caused on purpose, or by accident, isn’t going to change that. If by chance it puts reconciliation back 50 years, then that’s nothing compared to the 250 years they have been waiting already. – Kate Sharma, Crows Nest

Some of your correspondents want all First Nation protesters to join Morrison’s quiet Australians, and meekly wait for whatever crumbs fall off the table. We can guess what that will look like, with a Voice to Parliament widely opposed as a “third chamber” and denied constitutional status. – Jeffrey Mellefont, Coogee

Ignore the joker

Am I the only person who could not give a ball toss if Novak Djokovic plays in the Australian Open or not (“Novak’s Australian Open still in doubt”, smh.com.au, December 31). This “joker” has proven his immaturity at several points throughout the pandemic and his failure to advise his immunisation status is just another example. Treat him as you would the small child he is behaving like, and please don’t give him any more attention. – Brad Smith, Greenwich

Staying positive

Thank you, Richard Glover (“Sydney, it’s time to let down your hair, Goldilocks”, January 1-2) for bringing a smile to this weary dial in reminding me of everything I have to be grateful for. Stay positive for 2022! – Annemarie Turner, Dapto

Red alert

Did anyone spot the coronavirus’s spiky red balls amid the New Year’s Eve fireworks? There’s just no escaping them (“Hope bursts through COVID’s cloud”, January 1-2). – Judy Hungerford, North Curl Curl

Was Tina Arena’s NYE song choice – Back in Black – a cheeky reference to the coalition’s famous mug? – Maya Hall, Wahroonga

Betty White legacy

What an inspiration Betty White’s TV career has been to me and probably many other gay people (“TV legend Betty White dies at 99”, smh.com.au, January 1). Firstly, as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, you taught me that having a healthy sexual appetite was not a bad thing. Secondly, as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, you taught me the joys of being quirky and a bit different. Thirdly, as Elka Ostrovsky on Hot in Cleveland, you taught me to embrace life as an older person and that vodka is OK. I will miss you Betty, but I take great joy in the characters you created that I came to know and love. – Paul Gray, Daylesford (Vic)

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