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The Eden-Monaro byelection is a matter of life and death

When you vote in Eden-Monaro today, don't just think of yourself.
When you vote please think of me. I live in rural NSW, near Tathra. I've been through so much fire and smoke over the last two-and-a-half years I will never feel safe in my home again. I've seen my friends lose everything - their homes, businesses, family photos. I've seen familiar landscapes scorched, unrecognisable and changed forever. I've seen the despair and exhaustion of neighbours trying to rebuild while facing even worse fires. And I'm one of the lucky ones who hasn't lost my home. Yet. This Saturday, you get to make a decision about my future. About your future and the future of our grandkids. Please, please, vote for someone who believes in the expert advice around bushfires and climate. Don't risk a climate-denier, or support the Prime Minister who went to Hawaii while we were choking in the flames. Before the fire comes to your doorstep, before it returns to mine. Vote as if our lives depend on it, because they do. I sense some political changes are in the air with the possibility of an unexpected win for the Coalition in the Eden-Monaro byelection, and also the demise of the Victorian government at the next state election. At the last Eden-Monaro general election, the Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs, was within a cat's whisker of winning against a very popular local member Mike Kelly. Labor's "personal vote" advantage has now been negated owing to his resignation due to ill health . In Victoria the shambolic Victorian pandemic laws should prove to be sufficient to oust the Labor Party and its dictatorial Premier, Daniel Andrews, from office. Ewan Brown's view seniors need more special expert advice on COVID-19 (Letters, June 30) is not a perspective I would share. I believe that we have more than enough information from a wide range of sources to reach our own judgements on how we wish respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the ACT. While over-70s have generally been regarded as the most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, the data on deaths in Australia suggests that people into their 80s and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk if they contract the virus. But the risk tolerance and vulnerability of any individual can only be assessed on an individual basis. We all need to make our own decisions about these issues, if necessary with medical advice. I am in my early 70s, in good health, and strongly believe the most important thing I must do to stay that way is to take regular exercise. I continued to exercise throughout the COVID-19 period using the available options. I have also now returned to the gym and the swimming pool. While eating out again in some restaurants, I continue to avoid crowded shopping areas as much as possible and I don't expect to be seen in bars or cinemas for the time being. Nor will I be seen at large scale sporting events. Our house on the South Coast now provides a pleasant respite with other travel limitations in place. The only issue where further official advice might be forthcoming is on mask-wearing, but even there we can make own judgements based on the international evidence. We all must continue to behave in an informed and socially responsible way in response to COVID. The seniors community is already doing this. I don't believe the Chief Minister should agree to planes carrying potentially COVID-19-affected passengers landing in Canberra. In March I visited my family in Geneva and was requested by the Australian government to return ASAP to Australia, cutting short my visit which caused a lot of heartache. I was then placed in mandatory quarantine (at the very unsanitary Burberry - another story) for two weeks. What I cannot understand is why, all these months later, dual citizens are still arriving in Australia in their droves. The government should have mandated that everyone who wished to return to Australia should arrive no later than the end of April, giving them six weeks to get organised. After that date they could have stayed in their country of origin, or where their second passport allowed (as I could have done). Melbourne airport is not accepting flights from overseas for two weeks so why can't these dual citizens wait another few weeks before travelling? Canberra is COVID-19-free and we want it to stay that way. I think there may be one important element missing in our discussions of measures we are advised to take in tackling this pandemic. I would argue that there has perhaps been too little regard for how we feel about and use our bodies. Think about it. These days we tell children, in the wake of child abuse revelations, that they should not let anyone do anything to their bodies that they don't want. Doctors are told to ask permission and explain if they have to do an internal exam in order to check our health. We are taught that non-verbal communication, including facial expression, conveys important information in any interpersonal message. So, if we need to poke something quite a long way up a person's nose or down their throat, or to cover up our faces when one of us may be ill, we are going to have to make sure that everyone in any of these transactions knows why it is important. Sometimes I wonder if this is being adequately taught to testers and mask wearers. Lifting our game in this respect might increase trust and understanding as growing numbers of us are involved in testing, masking and tracing. I must say that I am pleased to see the nation coming together again, but I imagine that there have been a lot of Queenslanders who remember the "Brisbane Line", a wartime strategy whereby in the event of invasion from the north, Australia's defences would retreat to just north of Brisbane to defend the "heartland of Australia". They would have been gloating over the chance to retreat to the north in response to invasion (a virus) from the south. Real Queenslanders think of the tourist areas as more part of California than Queensland. John Hargreaves (Letters, June 30) tells us: "Folks here don't lecture those unfortunate souls in NSW." Readers of The Canberra Times must have been mistaken to read about (June 30, p4) and see a photograph of the ACT's Chief Minister seemingly at an event to tell the souls of NSW's Murrumbateman how they should cast their votes in a byelection. Your editorial of July 1 ("Virus crisis an opportunity for light rail") suggested southside residents would be "justly aggrieved if they were denied access to the same technology and service, given their rates helped fund the work on the north side"? That is, unhelpfully, a divisive remark lifted from the politics of envy playbook used by the government in 2016. As a non-northside voter (along with the majority of south-of-the-lake voters who will never use a tram, stage 2 or not) I would be mightily aggrieved to see even more money thrown away on this outdated transport mode. Yes, I would like to think that I could be getting some of the largesse endowed upon the northern voters, if indeed we have any funds left for any such largesse, but I have been patiently magnanimous so I think I should do even better. Give me a modern Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) based on battery buses, give me well-designed and frequent services, give me the capacity to go all over town, quickly, and give it to me for a low fare cost. The money we have already wasted on Stage 1 could have been used to provide a modern BRT system for all of Canberra, with free fares. We can salvage something now, but that salvation is not in the form of more trams. Land-grabbing money-scamming Mr Fluffy blocks, a badly indebted ACT budget which is getting worse (Jon Stanhope has unpacked the figures), an unaffordable stage 2 light rail with a very low-benefit cost ratio, planned west basin apartments obstructing valued views to the mountains, poor planning that consistently ignores community wishes, ever-rising rates only temporarily frozen for the election. What will it take to remove Barr's government in a city that blindly hangs on to an ALP government, in spite of the latter having jettisoned ALP ideals long ago? Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attachment. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610. Keep your letter to 250 or fewer words. References to The Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published). To send a letter via the online form, click or touch here.

When you vote please think of me. I live in rural NSW, near Tathra. I've been through so much fire and smoke over the last two-and-a-half years I will never feel safe in my home again. I've seen my friends lose everything - their homes, businesses, family photos.

I've seen familiar landscapes scorched, unrecognisable and changed forever. I've seen the despair and exhaustion of neighbours trying to rebuild while facing even worse fires.

And I'm one of the lucky ones who hasn't lost my home. Yet. This Saturday, you get to make a decision about my future. About your future and the future of our grandkids. Please, please, vote for someone who believes in the expert advice around bushfires and climate. Don't risk a climate-denier, or support the Prime Minister who went to Hawaii while we were choking in the flames.

Before the fire comes to your doorstep, before it returns to mine. Vote as if our lives depend on it, because they do.

Jo Dodds, Chinnock
Times of change?

I sense some political changes are in the air with the possibility of an unexpected win for the Coalition in the Eden-Monaro byelection, and also the demise of the Victorian government at the next state election.

At the last Eden-Monaro general election, the Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs, was within a cat's whisker of winning against a very popular local member Mike Kelly. Labor's "personal vote" advantage has now been negated owing to his resignation due to ill health .

In Victoria the shambolic Victorian pandemic laws should prove to be sufficient to oust the Labor Party and its dictatorial Premier, Daniel Andrews, from office.

Mario Stivala, Belconnen
A contrary view

Ewan Brown's view seniors need more special expert advice on COVID-19 (Letters, June 30) is not a perspective I would share. I believe that we have more than enough information from a wide range of sources to reach our own judgements on how we wish respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the ACT.

While over-70s have generally been regarded as the most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, the data on deaths in Australia suggests that people into their 80s and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk if they contract the virus. But the risk tolerance and vulnerability of any individual can only be assessed on an individual basis. We all need to make our own decisions about these issues, if necessary with medical advice.

I am in my early 70s, in good health, and strongly believe the most important thing I must do to stay that way is to take regular exercise. I continued to exercise throughout the COVID-19 period using the available options.

I have also now returned to the gym and the swimming pool. While eating out again in some restaurants, I continue to avoid crowded shopping areas as much as possible and I don't expect to be seen in bars or cinemas for the time being. Nor will I be seen at large scale sporting events. Our house on the South Coast now provides a pleasant respite with other travel limitations in place.

The only issue where further official advice might be forthcoming is on mask-wearing, but even there we can make own judgements based on the international evidence.

We all must continue to behave in an informed and socially responsible way in response to COVID. The seniors community is already doing this.

Jeff Hart, Canberra

I don't believe the Chief Minister should agree to planes carrying potentially COVID-19-affected passengers landing in Canberra.

In March I visited my family in Geneva and was requested by the Australian government to return ASAP to Australia, cutting short my visit which caused a lot of heartache.

I was then placed in mandatory quarantine (at the very unsanitary Burberry - another story) for two weeks. What I cannot understand is why, all these months later, dual citizens are still arriving in Australia in their droves. The government should have mandated that everyone who wished to return to Australia should arrive no later than the end of April, giving them six weeks to get organised.

What I cannot understand is why dual citizens are still arriving in Australia in their droves. The government should have mandated that everyone who wished to return to Australia should arrive no later than the end of April.

Judith Diamond, Narrabundah

After that date they could have stayed in their country of origin, or where their second passport allowed (as I could have done).

Melbourne airport is not accepting flights from overseas for two weeks so why can't these dual citizens wait another few weeks before travelling? Canberra is COVID-19-free and we want it to stay that way.

Judith Diamond, Narrabundah
Think about this

I think there may be one important element missing in our discussions of measures we are advised to take in tackling this pandemic. I would argue that there has perhaps been too little regard for how we feel about and use our bodies.

Think about it. These days we tell children, in the wake of child abuse revelations, that they should not let anyone do anything to their bodies that they don't want.

Doctors are told to ask permission and explain if they have to do an internal exam in order to check our health. We are taught that non-verbal communication, including facial expression, conveys important information in any interpersonal message.

So, if we need to poke something quite a long way up a person's nose or down their throat, or to cover up our faces when one of us may be ill, we are going to have to make sure that everyone in any of these transactions knows why it is important.

Sometimes I wonder if this is being adequately taught to testers and mask wearers.

Lifting our game in this respect might increase trust and understanding as growing numbers of us are involved in testing, masking and tracing.

Jill Sutton, Watson
Queensland's revenge

I must say that I am pleased to see the nation coming together again, but I imagine that there have been a lot of Queenslanders who remember the "Brisbane Line", a wartime strategy whereby in the event of invasion from the north, Australia's defences would retreat to just north of Brisbane to defend the "heartland of Australia".

They would have been gloating over the chance to retreat to the north in response to invasion (a virus) from the south. Real Queenslanders think of the tourist areas as more part of California than Queensland.

Stewart Bath, Isabella Plains
John was wrong

John Hargreaves (Letters, June 30) tells us: "Folks here don't lecture those unfortunate souls in NSW." Readers of The Canberra Times must have been mistaken to read about (June 30, p4) and see a photograph of the ACT's Chief Minister seemingly at an event to tell the souls of NSW's Murrumbateman how they should cast their votes in a byelection.

Peter Bradbury, Holt
Can the tram

Your editorial of July 1 ("Virus crisis an opportunity for light rail") suggested southside residents would be "justly aggrieved if they were denied access to the same technology and service, given their rates helped fund the work on the north side"?

That is, unhelpfully, a divisive remark lifted from the politics of envy playbook used by the government in 2016.

As a non-northside voter (along with the majority of south-of-the-lake voters who will never use a tram, stage 2 or not) I would be mightily aggrieved to see even more money thrown away on this outdated transport mode. Yes, I would like to think that I could be getting some of the largesse endowed upon the northern voters, if indeed we have any funds left for any such largesse, but I have been patiently magnanimous so I think I should do even better.

Give me a modern Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) based on battery buses, give me well-designed and frequent services, give me the capacity to go all over town, quickly, and give it to me for a low fare cost. The money we have already wasted on Stage 1 could have been used to provide a modern BRT system for all of Canberra, with free fares. We can salvage something now, but that salvation is not in the form of more trams.

Terry Werner, Wright
What's next?

Land-grabbing money-scamming Mr Fluffy blocks, a badly indebted ACT budget which is getting worse (Jon Stanhope has unpacked the figures), an unaffordable stage 2 light rail with a very low-benefit cost ratio, planned west basin apartments obstructing valued views to the mountains, poor planning that consistently ignores community wishes, ever-rising rates only temporarily frozen for the election.

What will it take to remove Barr's government in a city that blindly hangs on to an ALP government, in spite of the latter having jettisoned ALP ideals long ago?

Murray May, Cook

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attachment. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 or fewer words. References to The Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

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