Speaking as a recent arrival, hotel quarantine is not that tough. Sydney seemed almost relaxed after Singapore airport. The police were courteous, soldiers saw to our luggage. We were bussed to a Sheraton hotel where we registered and I was taken by a pleasant young soldier up to my room.
That was my last personal contact with the outside world for two weeks. My room on the 16th floor was spacious and comfortable. I had a view of the southern suburbs, Botany Bay and the airport. There were few planes to watch, but the room had pay TV, and the food was fair and plentiful.
Three times a day a cardboard box was deposited on a table outside my door. A knock told me I could collect it after ten seconds. One problem: used to a hearty German breakfast I'm no fan of muesli and cornflakes. However, I could order meals from restaurants nearby, or have them brought in by family or friends. We could buy alcohol too, up to one bottle of wine or a six-pack a day, and that was strictly supervised.
I missed the fresh air, especially in the last days. A nurse phoned every day to enquire about symptoms, and two days after arrival and two days before the end of quarantine we had a COVID-19 test. If both were negative we could leave, armed with certificates.
Outside the hotel were sights I hadn't seen for months. No masks, people crowding pubs and cafes, shops open - life almost as it had been pre-coronavirus. Only the requirement to sign in via the Service NSW app was a reminder of the pandemic.
Professor Jurgen Tampke, Braddon
Taken for granted
Trust me Gary Petherbridge, ("Get on board Andrew", canberratimes.com.au, May 16), ACT voters have a good nose for these things. Even the truest of true believers will have realised, albeit with some discomfort, that "there is considerable hypocrisy in Labor Party policies" in the ACT. However, the voting ways of a generation will not change until a credible alternative government presents itself.
Elizabeth Lee offers the best hope for the ACT Liberals in recent years. However, held back by the faction that backed in a deputy leader whose priority for a taxpayer-funded overseas study trip was to study prostitution (seriously?) you get the feeling that, in the near future at least, there will be no serious challenge to the ongoing considerable hypocrisy practised by the ACT government.
Ian Pearson, Barton
I sympathise and agree with Wayne Harris (Letters, May 18). We have lived in Canberra for decades and like Mr Harris, have also watched as Canberra's well maintained and attractive urban design has deteriorated through years of self-interest by developers and the ACT government, more rapidly over the last decade.
My father worked out of Benjamin Offices alongside the NCDC for many years. He drew up a lot of the early plans for Canberra's suburbs during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The streets were wide, the suburbs as well as the city, well designed with ample green spaces.
City maintenance was undertaken on a regular basis and our interstate visitors always commented on how beautiful Canberra was. Then self-government came along and now, under the Labor/Greens government in particular, everything we love about living in Canberra is disappearing before our eyes.
My father would turn in his grave if he saw what was happening to our beloved capital today. Our interstate visitors now comment about how run down our suburbs look and how Northbourne Avenue, once unique, now resembles a concrete eyesore.
The crush of high-density development, disappearing green spaces and towers built without any sympathy to their environment cast a shadow on what was once a beautiful and properly managed capital city.
Alison Chapple, Macquarie
An excellent idea
The report "Ardern pushes for conversation on ethical use of algorithms" (May 16, p14) is a warning of the power of a (relatively) small piece of computer code.
Enter the words "climate change" into Google and you will be presented with millions of references to published documents, books, speeches, etc.
However, enter the words "white supremacy" and you will be offered hundreds of thousands or millions of references to the evils of white supremacists such as those who converted the infamous Christchurch mass murderer.
Algorithms can be used for evil as well as constructive or beneficial purposes. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made the right call.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Milking it ...
I felt that Brian Wenn ("Is this a joke?" Letters, May 15) was a little unfair in his criticism of wine reviewer John Lewis (Letters, May 11). It reminded me of a milkshake I recently had that I would rank as superb.
The milk emanated from eminent dairy farmer Herbie Herd and the esteemed Herd family. The Holstein influence stood out. The Friesian effect shone through for the cosmopolitan palate.
I found a hint of fescue and an allusion of couch grass, grazing on the front palate. The middle palate revealed a smooth velvety texture, while for the discerning consumer, there was an enhancement of the rich Riverina sultanas within the vanilla milk-shake environment.
Subtle tones of paspalum and lantana featured at the finish. Many would see this as a true "Cattleignon Blanc".
Laurie McDonald, Watson
Argument is suspect
A very specious account of the theory of the free market from Viktor Diskordia (May 17). It reminds me of the analogy I heard in Economics for Historians I studied at uni. The free market is like a multi-lane superhighway where changing business practice is like changing lanes.
No-one ever bothered with who made the highway with its lane markings, plus kerbs and gutters, controlled intersections, speed limits or road rules and their enforcement etc. The free market without government would not be a superhighway, but rather the option of private driveways for anyone who can afford them.
If the Coalition and their theories are any good why didn't they pay off any debt in their first six years? Why were private aged-care homes in Victoria badly hit by COVID-19 while the "commie" state-run homes were mainly okay? Why does the Indian state of Kerala, currently, and for most of the past 70 years run by "commies", have oxygen and beds to spare while most of Modi-led India is in such dire straits?
Perhaps the theories don't work where they really matter.
S W Davey, Torrens
Now that a Birmingham University (UK) study has found that delaying the second dose of Pfizer vaccine to 12 weeks led to an antibody response that was three-and-a-half times larger than the current three weeks delay, why has the Australian government not adopted this timeframe?
My daughter in Glasgow had her first Pfizer jab a few weeks ago and is scheduled for her second 12 weeks later.
Felicity Chivas, Ainslie
Where is Zed?
Four of the ACT's five parliamentarians have together condemned the prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K. The ACT's fifth parliamentarian Senator Seselja remains silent. Kieren Pender has cogently argued it was wrong for the Australian government to spy on Timor Leste for commercial gain, that the people who spoke up about it did the right thing, and that it is wrong to punish them, and it is wrong for our government to shroud their prosecution in secrecy.
If Senator Seselja won't join with his parliamentary colleagues in condemning the prosecution will he at least explain to the ACT community why these Canberra citizens should be prosecuted and why the prosecutions should proceed in secret.
Ernst Willheim, Forrest
Armed neutrality fallacy
Nicholas Stuart in his article "Trying to learn from the past" (canberratimes.com.au, May 17) said: "We need to understand what armed force can, and can't, achieve".
The implied point being that Australia's current defence posture needs to be examined. Stuart's article is based on two recent books. The author of one, Dr Albert Palazzo, in another book From Dependency to Armed Neutrality: Future Options for Australian National Security (2018) advocated that Australia should embrace armed neutrality.
The ADF at present is neither structured nor equipped to be capable of defending Australia without support from allies. Mobilisation capacity is not nearly sufficient: standing forces would need to be strengthened considerably; and a much greater reserve capability would be required. Self-reliance comes at a cost.
In essence, current defence partnerships enable the ADF to defend Australian national interests on a minimal budget; a situation no government is likely to change. Armed neutrality is a pipe dream.
Bruce Cameron, Campbell
TO THE POINT
NOT VERY CLEVER
I wonder how many hectares of native grasses Energy Minister Angus Taylor will wipe out to build Scomo's by-election inspired, gas-fired power station? The gas will presumably come from fracking and the emissions will obviously be sequestrated through carbon capture and storage.
P R Temple, Macquarie
OIL IS REDUNDANT
Re: "Refineries get $2.3b for fuel security" (canberratimes.com.au, May 18). EVs don't depend on fossil fuels imported on long, vulnerable supply lines from unstable regimes that we get into wars to defend. My car runs on electricity renewably generated in Australia.
Peter Campbell, Cook
PAY PEOPLE FAIRLY
Many in hospitality say they cannot get workers even though "we pay award wages". This suggests many in the industry do not. If you want good workers pay them a good wage - or at least the award wage.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
If Wayne Harris has been in Canberra since 1968 (Letters, May 18), he forgets that in the 1970s the eucalypts removed for the tram replaced those that were dying out. It was an equally ugly time as the saplings grew. Give the new lot, more suited to that environment, time to grow.
James Mahoney, McKellar
ISRAEL NOT AT FAULT
Laurelle Russell-Atkinson (Letters, May 18) says Israel must address the root causes of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. I would have thought responsibility for addressing the root cause of the conflict rests with the Palestinians, their allies, and Hamas and their unwillingness to recognise Israel as a sovereign nation state.
Don Sephton, Greenway
THE TRUTH WILL OUT
Kieran Pender ("There is no place for secret trials in Australia", canberratimes.com.au, May 17) pointed out the Morrison government refuses to admit Australia spied on Timor-Leste. No need, Australians already know what great [redacted] the Liberals were at the time regarding their [redacted] behaviour.
John Simsons, Holt
Angus Taylor thinks subsidies for electric vehicles are unnecessary because hybrids are what consumers are going for. Hybrids still use significant amounts of fossil fuel. We need to transition to clean energy as soon as possible. Angus's thinking is fossilised or beholden to vested interests.
Richard Johnston, Kingston
An SBS online headline on Sunday: "A 'sigh of relief' for travellers on India repatriation flight as those left behind try to stay positive". I should think that's the last thing those left behind wanted to do.
C Williams, Forrest
COOKING WITH GAS?
It is becoming harder and harder to figure this mob in government out. On the one hand they say they are going to use technology to get Australia to net zero emissions by 2050. Then, on the other, they say they are investing $600 million in a fossil fuel power station private industry won't back (and which some banks wouldn't lend for). What will it take for them to "get it"? Can somebody please explain?
N Ellis, Belconnen
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