Cruel to deny the elderly a human touch for so long

Harvey Norman’s repayment of $6million JobKeeper payment is welcome, but why did it take so long (“Silence speaks volumes about JobKeeper mess”, September 2)? This action has highlighted the government’s hypocrisy in reclaiming overpayments when compared to the disastrous “robodebt” scheme. Under that scheme, many thousands of welfare recipients were inaccurately targeted to repay perceived overpayments. But no similar mechanism has been put in place by the government to reclaim the billions of overpayments to employers who have enjoyed large profits and have clearly not needed them. Leo Sorbello, West Ryde

It is understandable that, in the rush to bring JobKeeper in, the government overlooked a mechanism to have funds returned if a predicted downturn didn’t happen. There is nothing preventing the government from now recovering all over-paid JobKeeper funds. The ATO has all required data to make this happen. To not do so is a slap in taxpayers’ faces. They might even use recovered funds to build decent quarantine facilities. Stuart Pratt, Ocean Shores

When it was discovered how JobKeeper had been used by corporations to increase their profits, our PM declared he didnt’ believe in “the politics of envy”. This is not about envy – it’s about integrity, honesty, decency and the spirit of JobKeeper, rather than the substance of its poorly drafted rules. The government’s main mission is to serve the big end of town, the wealthy and everyone else can fend for themselves. Andrew Sciberras, Kogarah

The article about the charity volunteers who are helping those in need provides a stark contrast to the companies that made huge profits but refused to return the JobKeeper money they took (“Grassroots charity effort keeps hotspots together”, September 2). The former certainly gives you hope that there may be some future for our society. Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West

Students the harshest markers of all

Jenna Price raises some excellent points about student evaluations in universities (“What goes wrong when uni students mark teachers”, September 2). Now retired from a 30-year career in university teaching, I distributed student evaluation forms with trepidation at the end of every semester. But this was nothing compared with the anxiety I experienced on opening the envelope containing the results. Complaints from students mostly related to their poor performance for which they blamed the lecturers. However, there were also comments that referred to a lecturer’s personal attributes to which Price refers: gender, race, perceived bias.

The only benefit that anonymous student evaluations might have is for the students themselves, to vent their anger at lecturers on the last day of semester. A student’s belief that “I paid for this course, therefore I deserve to pass” is frequently reflected in their evaluations. These subjective evaluations go unchallenged and lecturers have no right of reply. Consequently, the damage that student evaluations cause to a lecturer’s career and self-esteem is incalculable. Patricia Farrar, Concord

Peas in a pod

As usual Niki Savva doesn’t hold back (“The odd couple of necessity”, September 2). She sees Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg as having one thing in common. Neither of them stands for anything. Neither see a cause beyond their own survival and advancement. They deserve each other. Unfortunately, they have let all of us down at a time when the Commonwealth requires so much. Mark Porter, New Lambton

Nothing has changed

In the great influenza pandemic of the early 1900s, Aborigines were said to have “died like flies”. Now, because of the ineptitude of the federal government in not ordering sufficient vaccines on time and the failure of the state government to prioritise vulnerable First Nations communities, we are in danger of history repeating itself (“How the rollout rolled past First Nations”, September 2). This is disgraceful. These days, when such things occur, nobody is held accountable. It’s time they were. Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

Policy off-target

Your article tells us that the federal government accused Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of misleading Australians over the risk to children when restrictions are eased (“Fury at ‘scare tactics’ on children”, September 2). However, the 70 per cent fully vaccinated adults target for “opening up” does not include the whole population because children have been omitted. So-called “herd immunity” may occur when 85 per cent plus of the whole population is fully vaccinated. The bottom line is that without children being fully vaccinated “herd immunity” is a mirage, yet without it infections, hospitalisations and deaths will most likely mirror the US, Britain and Europe, and start to spin out of control again. Alan Carruthers, Artarmon

Premier’s positivity

Please Premier stop the “learning to live with COVID” and “we’ve been preparing for this for two years” mantra (“Surge in hospitals cases as Premier says worst to come”, September 2). My husband was due to have elective surgery this week, parents have been waiting months for paediatric surgery for their kids – all of which has been cancelled. This is at Prince of Wales Hospital. I’d hate to think what it is like at Westmead or Blacktown. Quit trying to sugar coat the message; the hospitals are under stress. Robyn Alexander, Little Bay

Passing on the rules

I fail to see how vaccine passports, the idea of which I thoroughly support, are going to work. People who refuse to be vaccinated only need to obtain a screenshot of someone else’s certificate and show it to gain access wherever they wish. I cannot see the workers checking for vaccination at restaurants, concerts, theatres and sporting venues asking for photo ID and then checking that the names match. Without photos on the vaccine passports the plan is open to wholesale abuse and unvaccinated, indeed even infected, people will be able to circulate freely. Karen Coleman, Waterloo

Proof of vaccination, especially in digital form, is a lightning rod for all sorts of libertarian objections but it should be no more offensive to freedom than proving your age to get into a pub. Stephen Wilson, Five Dock

Diary booked out

No doubt she is strapped for time, but perhaps Gladys Berejiklian could forgo one of her 11am pronouncements from the Temple of Doom to meet the mayors of the Sydney councils most severely impacted by her lockdown (“Premier turned down meeting with mayor, met business group”, September 2). Clearly some of us are all in this together more than others. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

All in this together

Perhaps those correspondents who criticised Chris Uhlmann for his comments on Western Australia’s isolationism during the pandemic, and eulogised the WA Premier for his stance, should remember that WA is a member of the Commonwealth and not a separate sovereign state closed to everyone else indefinitely. Or is there a hint of secession here (Letters, September 2)? Greg Partington, Quakers Hill

Nation building

The NSW government reopened construction as an essential industry that could be COVID-safe, yet it can’t start removing flammable cladding on buildings until February 2022 because of the lockdown (“Removal of flammable cladding from apartments delayed”, September 2). Keeping people’s homes and lives safe from risk of fire, by fixing dangerous buildings, is evidently less essential than the government’s infrastructure projects and developers’ construction for sale. Janet Burstall, Lilyfield

Kick in the teeth

The AFL hierarchy are appealing the decision made by the Tribunal and want GWS’s Toby Greene’s suspension increased from three to six matches (“Giants kick AFL’s Greene ban appeal down the road”, September 2). This shows a lack of confidence in the members of the Tribunal: shouldn’t they be stood down, not Toby? Barbara Sprengel, Ocean Shores

Holi-daze mode

I was a bit nonplussed to get a text message from my son a couple of days ago saying: “We’re ok for our vacation on Wednesday”. I couldn’t figure where they could go from Greater Sydney. Turned out to be another epic fail for predictive text as they had they were having their vaccination that morning (Letters, September 2). Seppo Ranki, Glenhaven

While commiserating with a Latin scholar friend, I wrote “tempus fugit” but predictive text sent him “tempura digit” — not an appealing thought or dish. Evan Bailey, Glebe

Overly stressed

I further beg to differ. “Can I say” and “I can’t stress enough” are the Premier’s most overused phrases (Letters, September 2). Gerardine Grace, Leura

The Premier isn’t saying “please know”. It’s “please, no (more questions)“. Steve Cornelius, Brookvale

Shining light

I am one of the “boring evening people” (Letters, September 2). Blissful long, light evenings to relax with a glass of wine outside. Winding down with walks in the gloaming. The end of dark, depressing evenings. Hurrah for daylight saving! Judy Hungerford, North Curl Curl

I’m not sure about our winter of discontent or daylight saving, but I’d much rather be celebrating Rocktober than Shocktober. George Zivkovic, Northmead

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
COVID hospital numbers surge by 42 per cent in a week, but worst to come in October
From OP#66: “I am a nurse, working in the NGO-sector. Yep, poor folk will suffer most. Instead of telling us we will be joyously jetting off for far flung destinations and celebrating Christmas to excess, governments should be letting us in on what the plan is to protect people who, in our brave new world, will remain at greatest long-term risk, the very same who are at risk right now: low paid people, whose working conditions have been eroded over time.”

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