Sadly, our country has shot itself in the foot01/07/2022
Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Sadly, our country has shot itself in the foot
Melbourne is about to host one of the world’s great sporting events, possibly without the world No. 1 tennis player. Novak Djokovic’s performance at this tournament could add further intrigue to the debate over whether he, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal is the greatest men’s player of all time.
In a country that now has tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases, what danger does an unvaccinated person, who does not have the virus, pose to anyone other than themselves?
Like most Australians, I do not want to see preferential treatment given to anyone on the basis of how well known they are, but this is a ridiculous and insane outcome. It is 2022, not 2020. The government and Border Force have not prevented new variants of this virus from entering this country but it is preventing common sense from prevailing. Australia has shot itself in the foot.
Jesse Dawkins, Korweinguboora
I’m proud that Australia has stood up to Djokovic
I do not understand why there is any concern about Novak Djokovic being rejected entry into Australia. He has treated our country with disdain. Vaccination is not just about the individual – it is about protecting the community. Those who care about the community get vaccinated as I, and all of my family have done.
Clearly Djokovic believes he is above the community and a “special person”. Thank goodness the Australian government has said that he is not. As a senior tennis player, he should be setting an example. I am, today, extremely proud to be an Australian and I do not care what the rest of the world thinks.
John Rosenberg, South Melbourne
A grieving mother who had to fight to come home
I am an Australian citizen currently residing in Canada. My youngest daughter died very unexpectedly in late 2020 and her sister and I had enormous difficulty returning to Sydney to arrange her funeral. We endured two weeks of quarantine at a time of huge stress and grief at the worst time of our lives.
We both had numerous negative COVID-19 tests but still no compassion was awarded to us to shorten our quarantine period so that I could go to my daughter. We are from Melbourne and no family or friends were allowed to come to our side at our moment of great need. We had her funeral with a handful of people who were strangers to us. It would be a travesty, and a huge insult to me as a grieving mother, if this wealthy, unvaccinated tennis player were allowed into our country.
Sheryl Murie, Toronto, Canada
This fiasco highlights the plight of our refugees
If anything good comes of this fiasco over Novak Djokovic’s visa application and his subsequent confinement to the Park Hotel in Carlton, I can only hope it is greatest awareness, here and elsewhere, that this is where Australia detains refugees brought to our country in 2019 for necessary medical treatment but which some have never been given to date.
Described by Djokovic’s family as “dirty” and with “bugs”, the place has been called a “torture cell” by others detained here. Let us not be distracted by the flim flam surrounding the entitled. Instead let us remember those who sought our help in their time of greatest need and who are truly suffering by Australia’s harsh and inhumane border policies.
Joy Mettam, Hawthorn East
A political ploy to distract us from the real issues
Scott Morrison is at it again. Just when it is clear that his government failed to plan effectively for further COVID-19 variants, he calls a press conference to support Border Force’s decision to deny Novak Djokovic entry to Australia.
It is clear that the public mood is not on Djokovic’s side, but is it really the place of the Prime Minister to get involved in the case? This is another diversionary tactic to persuade us to look away from the more important problems of missing rapid antigen tests, rising hospital cases and staffing shortages across the country.
Leonie McCormack, Northcote
We’ve endured so much
So we Victorians might have to accept that the anti-vaccination Novak Djokovic will be allowed to stay in Australia to play in a tennis tournament because his fragile health provides a vaccination exemption.
We who have lost so much over the last two years and continue to flounder. We experience death, despair, enforced separation and our health care workers and the economy suffer. Our children’s lives are on hold as precious milestones are missed and lost forever. But tennis goes on. One hubris-driven man goes on. If Djokovic plays in the Australian Open, I will not attend it.
Janine Carroll, registered nurse, Geelong
He should have been open
If Novak Djokovic had explained his reasons for not getting vaccinated from the outset, instead of putting himself out there as a poster boy for the anti-vaxxers, there would be some sympathy for him. I applaud Border Force for its actions in this matter. Shame on Tennis Australia and the Victorian government.
Barry Buskens, Beaumaris
Where the blame lies
The right to enter Australia rests solely with the Department of Home Affairs and Border Force, not Tennis Australia and the Victorian government. Both should jointly accept the blame for the silliness that is developing. The self-interest of both organisations is clear and the time for legal opinions was before Novak Djokovic arrived in Australia, not after.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale
Do the paperwork first
International students who wish to study in Australia must first, provide documents to the university to gain an offer of a place and second, provide whatever documents are required to immigration to obtain a visa to enter Australia. An offer of a university place is a necessary but not sufficient condition of entry.
Most students engage the help of specialist agents to ensure they obtain the correct visa. Similarly Novak Djokovic had an offer to participate in the Australian Open but apparently did not have the necessary documents for entry to the country. He or his agent should have ensured the paperwork was correct before he got on a plane.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
Respect must be earned
Your editorial (The Age, 6/1) tells us “Djokovic is one of the finest tennis players to ever set foot on a court. We don’t have to like his views, but we should respect him”. Why exactly should Australians respect him when he patently does not respect us?
George Greenberg, Malvern
Silence a better response
Your editorial asks spectators not to boo Novak Djokovic. I have tickets for the quarter-finals and if he happens to be playing that day, I will respond with silence – when he arrives, during his game and on his departure from the court.
I encourage all other spectators to respond the same. A silent Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open would be unprecedented.
Geoffrey Conaghan, St Kilda
Let’s cheer for Rafa
Channel Nine Network need not worry about its broadcast revenue if Novak Djokovic does not play in the Australian Open. Australians will find the possibility of the charming Rafael Nadal sneaking ahead of the top seeds to win his 21st slam irresistible viewing.
Patrice McCarthy, Bendigo
Open to world scrutiny
How ironic. Twenty years after Tampa, we have another incident of world interest. Not about our “fair go” myth but about one bloke without a proper visa. He has joined 30 other guys who are locked in the same hotel in Carlton. But listen, world, some have been there for six years. Our human rights record is trashed again for all the world to see.
Carolyn Berger, Kooyong
Release the refugees
Let’s hope that after the sports star departs the Park Hotel, an equivalent amount of media attention is directed towards the refugees who have been incarcerated there for years. Perhaps, at last, they will be released into the community.
Keith Fletcher, Kennington
No, Peter FitzSimons, the Djokovic mess does not make Australia look ordinary (Sport, 6/1). Understatement and humour will not do here. It makes Australia, and by extension Australians, look stupid. Europe is incredulous at such incompetence. England does not know whether to laugh or cry. It is a humiliation.
James Proctor, Barongarook
So the tax cuts are out?
The Prime Minister seems to suggest that our economy is in such a parlous state, we cannot afford to provide free rapid antigen tests to everyone despite the obvious need to do so. On that basis, his wealthy friends must be worried sick about the security of their promised tax cuts.
Glenda McNaught, East Melbourne
The forgotten elderly
Our vulnerable elderly are once again the lost victims of a COVID-19 outbreak. My fully vaccinated, 91-year-old mother has been confined to her room in her aged care facility since December 28 when it became a potential exposure site.
This means staff in full personal protective equipment, residents confined to their rooms and unappetising meals delivered in aluminium containers. Also little human contact beyond fleeting visits from the tired, stressed and overworked staff. Throw in furloughed staff, no rapid antigen tests and PCR test results taking up to a week to come back, as well as no truck drivers available to remove contaminated waste or provide regular deliveries.
Unlike previous outbreaks, there is no apparent plan for moving forward by any level of government. It is little surprise that I am lying awake at night wondering when I will see my mother again. At least I can talk with her on the telephone. Families with less cognitive loved ones must be desperate. I have no answers except a plea for a bit of common sense and humanity.
Alison Brideson, Williamstown
The professor was right
The Victorian government ignored advice from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to re-introduce density limits (The Age, 23/12/21).
Now it has decided that perhaps this was good advice after all and density limits are back in (The Age, 7/1). But it is definitely a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. I hope Health Minister Martin Foley is eating humble pie. Might he from now on listen to and act on Professor Sutton’s advice immediately?
Joy Hayman, Blackburn North
Another blow for cafes
Density limits for hospitality? I only have one question: Why? Firstly, the Omicron horse has already bolted. But more importantly this move punishes those hospitality businesses which are already suffering.
Take my local cafe, for example. Its kitchen has been shut all week because all its chefs have COVID-19 and the manager cannot find other cooks (to make full meals) because of the shortage of hospitality workers. Now he is hit with this additional challenge.
As he said to me yesterday: “I’m worse off than when we were in lockdown because not only am I back to mainly doing simple takeaways, but I also require more wait staff for those who dine in for a coffee”. Come on, Premier. If the density limit was designed to show you were doing something, it has worked. It is hurting small businesses further.
Andrew Laird, Malvern
Downside of opening up
In their quest for the borders to remain open for financial reasons, it seems that it has bitten retailers on the bum. They are now suffering staff shortages due to COVID-19 illnesses of their employees, resulting in financial headaches for the employer. Really, what did they expect?
John Cain, McCrae
A booking issue
I waited for more than two hours for my booked vaccine booster appointment at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital because walk-ins were being accepted. I felt for the elderly and frail who had booked appointments but found themselves standing for such an unexpectedly long period.
Amanda Russell, Alphington
More babies? Really?
Predictably, the Pope wants humanity, approaching 8billion of us, to have more babies, not fewer (World, 7/1). When will it dawn on the Catholic Church that exponential growth of the human population cannot continue without catastrophe?
In all likelihood our current pandemic is a result of increased disturbance of natural environments due to population pressure. Climate change certainly is. Nature is pushing back. As countries develop, family size typically decreases because people can be better assured their children will survive. The Pope needs to do some basic science and geography.
Alex Judd, Blackburn North
The problem with states
Just imagine how expedient, efficient and productive administration in Australia would be if the federal government (regardless of party) did not have to negotiate most domestic decisions with diverse, conflicted and parochial state governments.
Derek Shepherd, Woodend
The “side road activated” sign near Dunkeld (Letters, 6/1) is attached to a traffic light sign and indicates that the upcoming traffic lights are activated by traffic on the side road.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir
AND ANOTHER THING
Welcome to the republic of Australia. Banana republic that is.
Adrian Ford, Soldiers Hill
First, China, then France, now Serbia. Who’d want to be a diplomat under this government?
Geoff Feren, St Kilda East
Border Force got it right for once.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills
A Novak-inspired, united Australia.
Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North
When many wait months or years for their day in court, how is it Djokovic gets his so quickly?
Jane Dezilwa, Elwood
The comedy at Border Farce goes on as usual.
Kyle Matheson, Mont Albert
Is this another of the Prime Minister’s election stunts?
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont
Djokovic has the resources to “return the serve” with more venom than defenceless refugees.
Russell Ogden, Inverloch
He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.
Judy Haritos, McKinnon
Should we ask Barnaby Joyce to tell Novak to “bugger off”?
Peter Thomas, Barwon Heads
Let’s hope Serbia doesn’t declare war over the visa imbroglio. With Scott and Peter on the job, we’d probably lose.
Tom Tabart, Drysdale
If Djokovic is allowed to play, schedule him on the outside courts.
Narelle Richardson, Warrnambool
Drop shot? Not the right choice this time, Novak.
Peter Dann, Blackburn
Meanwhile, our very own world No.1 player continues to be an inspiration. Go Ash Barty.
Andrea Bunting, Brunswick
Would he have received the same treatment from this government if he were from the US or Britain?
Michael Cleaver, Southbank
Will someone enlighten Paul McNamee (7/1) of the entry rules.
Patricia Grodski, Heidelberg
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