An appalling protest on these hallowed steps

Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

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SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE

An appalling protest on these hallowed steps

The Shrine was built as a memorial to the soldiers of World War I. It was funded in large part by public donation. During the Great Depression, which began a decade after the war ended, the construction of the Shrine functioned as a “make work” scheme for thousands of unemployed men. Many were returned soldiers, men who had survived the horrors of Gallipoli and the trenches of northern France and who had seen mates and family members die during the Spanish flu pandemic. Then when the Depression hit, they fronted up to work on the Shrine for barely subsistence wages.

These were the days before unemployment benefits – the newly instituted dole was at first just a handout of food staples allocated according to a ration ticket. In the following decades, strong unions fought to improve the conditions of working men and women. We are the beneficiaries of this progress.

To see unionists, stirred up by far-right agitators, protesting on the hallowed steps of the Shrine over the temporary loss of tea rooms and the mandate of a life-saving vaccination is beyond irony. Their great-grandfathers would be rolling in their graves.
Lesley Ryder, Blackburn South

Beneath the bravado, selfishness and cowardice

The Shrine is a symbol of the community’s thanks to those who gave their lives (or offered them) for our country in the various wars that we have been involved in. My grandfather was gassed on the Western Front in World War I. I had two great-uncles there as well. One was taken prisoner, the other shot in the stomach.

Guys, to attempt to use this sacred place as a home base for your calls for freedom and patriotism is a sacrilege. You are trying to bask within the reflected glory of our defence force dead and wounded. You are neither brave nor heroic. You are a bunch of selfish, useless idiots who do not have the courage to do anything for your country or fellow Australians.
Peter Ramadge, Newport

A sacred place where our ancestors are honoured

My uncle, Ed Hannan, was blown to smithereens on the battle field of Fromelle. He has no children or grandchildren to speak for him. My grandfather fought at Gallipoli and later received a military medal. My father fought in New Guinea and received the medal of the Order of Australia for his work among the veteran community.

On their behalf, I categorically condemn the use of the Shrine as a meeting place for the rioters. My family regard it as a sacred space where our ancestors are honoured. How dare these people put themselves in the same category? The rioters claim to be fighting for some sort of “freedom”. No, I knew real men who fought for freedom. They would have been first in line to be vaccinated. Why? Because they were good, altruistic and brave men who put others before themselves. These rioters are not worthy to lick their bootstraps.
Anne Stephens, Notting Hill

Fighting for the right to infect the community

The protesters waving Australian flags are presumably arguing that if returning World War I Diggers were allowed to circulate without masks in Australia and (unknowingly) bring the Spanish flu which killed many thousands here, then these idiots should be allowed to do the same with COVID-19 in 2021.
Merv Keehn, South Melbourne

A very warped view of what constitutes ’freedom’

How dare protesters urinate on the walls of the Shrine. It is outrageous that the Shrine, dedicated to the memory of our soldiers who fought and died for our country’s freedoms, has been desecrated by those who think freedom means the right to choose when it comes to public health. I am left speechless.
Julie Ottobre, Forest Hill

How much lower can these protesters go?

Just when you thought the protesters had plumbed the depths of not understanding the concept of social responsibility, they managed to achieve a new low by insulting our war heroes. They condemn themselves.
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava

THE FORUM

When it’s better to…

How upsetting to see the photo of a distraught, crying young girl at the protest/violent gathering (The Age, 23/9). What makes a person think bringing a child to this situation is a good idea? It is not. Being in these volatile, angry events would be so scary for a child, you can see it in her face. Either do not participate or leave the child at home. That picture breaks my heart.
Linda O’Brien, Heatherton

…leave children at home

I was shocked and horrified to see the photo of the female protester, screaming, at the Shrine with a small child crying and distressed on her shoulders. The child was holding a sign saying “Let us be free”. We all want freedom but with freedom comes responsibility. Something this woman may not understand.
Betty Cardwell, Chirnside Park

Only the brave need apply

I doubt if those for whom the Shrine was built in remembrance of would have wanted the current mob of malcontents in the trenches with them.
Neil McDonald, Berwick

Bouquets to the police

Thank you to Victoria Police. They do not always get it right but by God, they did on Wednesday. Effective and efficient removal of numbskulls from the Shrine of Remembrance. I felt pride in the institution that aims to protect all Victorians from lawlessness and outright stupidity. They were fair, they gave the protesters plenty of warning and then followed through. Excellent policing.
Paula McIntosh, Oakleigh South

Police mismanagement

For most of this week Victoria Police senior management clearly had no idea on how to put down this insurrection. The Chief Commissioner should fall on his sword immediately.
Peter Barrett, Brighton

Sever ties with the CFMEU

I was a union organiser for 24 years. The involvement of some CFMEU members in the violent anti-lockdown and mandatory vaccine demonstrations should have them expelled from the union. Their behaviour is the worst I have witnessed. The company they keep in itself, with far-right agitators and assorted whackos, says it all. For the sake of the movement, the ACTU should insist that all connections with them be severed.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool

We demand our ’rights’

Well here we are, experiencing yet another example of men misusing their power to intimidate. While the demonstrators in Melbourne cry “freedom”, they show nothing other than their belief that they deserve their needs to be met no matter the cost. The damage to families, healthcare workers (predominantly women) and other workers trying to go about their business is immeasurable. My grief is immense for the easily led, the decent workers and the unthinking who are betraying our community.
Bronwen Barton, Clifton Hill

An unfair imposition

Banning unvaccinated people from shopping centres (The Age, 23/9) is ridiculously excessive. Food and clothing, plus shoe, key, mobile phone repairers etc should be accessible to all. Only elective pleasures such as pubs, galleries, cinemas, restaurants etc could consider bans like that.
If you are fully vaccinated and you are infected, your chance of serious illness is very much reduced. Risks are all around us; they are part of a life worth living.

Our society has been damaged enough by COVID-19 and by political decisions surrounding it. It is time to heal, not divide people. The UK has walked back from vaccine passports to get entry to nightclubs and other crowded events as resentments started to brew social trouble. I am double vaccinated but I will boycott essential shops or shopping centres which bring in such bans.
Daria Fedewytsch-Dickson, Footscray

Validity of your ’research’

I suspect that I had students in my classes who grew up to be anti-vaxxers. They were most likely the unsuccessful ones who struggled to understand the science that I taught. They are now adults who still distrust science. They instead turn to alternative science and conspiracy theories.

When they say they have done their own research, they do not mean that they have read peer reviewed scientific research papers. They mean that they have Googled unscientific nonsense on the internet. They now think that they know things that the rest of us do not, the reverse of what happened to them at school.
Peter Hendrickson, East Melbourne

Workers’ limited freedom

I am surprised the trade union movement does not regard COVID-19 vaccine resistors as scabs. Being unvaccinated, they pose a considerable risk to fellow workers and their families if they contract the virus. Also, a virus outbreak in a workplace means it may be closed and all exposed persons must quarantine. For what purpose? Exercising freedom if it puts others at risk is never acceptable.
Peter Shaw, Dromana

The dead remember

That was no earthquake on Wednesday. That was thousands of deceased Australian servicemen and women turning in their graves as pretend patriots and heroes were marching for their very different and very selfish form of “freedom”, and took over a sacred symbol. Shame on you all.
David Allen, Bayswater North

Stand firm, Mr Andrews

Those protesters who are parents would know that giving in to their children’s tantrums makes life in their own homes very difficult.

I am sure the Premier knows you have to pick which battles are worth fighting. Giving in to these demands, in the thuggish way they are being made, would be a very bad move. It would only encourage more of this type of behaviour from the disgruntled. The protesters would be wise to calm down and not waste their time further.
Ruth Hudnott, Canterbury

A holiday for our game…

Please remind me why we are having a grand final public holiday in Victoria when a) Melbourne and parts of the state are in lockdown and b) the grand final is in Perth. There is no parade anywhere in Victoria. Somewhat Kafkaesque.
Jenny Lawrence, Hawthorn East

…being played in Perth

A grand final holiday for a parade we do not have for a football match that will be played thousands of kilometres away. What (being subdued) “rubbish”. As if struggling employers have not suffered enough.
Doug Perry, Mount Martha

Good luck, you’ll need it

I hope Michael Voss knows what he is in for as coach of Carlton. The hero if the team wins and the failure if it does not. The media will either love him or destroy him. The team’s performance will rest solely on his shoulders. Nothing to do with player performance on the day. And if Carlton loses, he will be scrutinised mercilessly with no concern for how it will impact his psyche or personal life.

Footy has become a ruthless, dehumanising, cut-throat business and the human factor seems to be overlooked. Run more and more by people from the corporate world who bring their approaches and “reviews” to what is, let’s face it, essentially a game. I can think of no other job that comes under such intense scrutiny as that of a senior footy coach. Good luck with it!
Sue McNamara, Rye

We need to shore up trust

A deal is a deal and on that issue alone, Australia’s treatment of the French has been abysmal. In any event, if China chose to flex its military muscles, it would not matter what submarines we had. This is no time to be creating rifts. We ought to be shoring up trust and friendships in a world crying out for safety options.
Ian McKail, Cheltenham

We’ll meet at dawn

Mon Dieu, there is only one way to settle this. Emmanuel Macron should throw down the gauntlet and challenge Scott Morrison to a duel, pistols at dawn. The only trouble is that Morrison would send someone else in his place.
Michael Morrison-Story, Frankston South

Why are we so submissive?

The two most disturbing aspects of the submarine snub and deal are: The complete subjugation of Australian foreign policy to the whims of the United States and its national interests. We are now in lock step with it, for better or worse, for a very long time. Was this a wise decision for a country living in this region? Was it in our long-term interest?

Second, the silence from the ALP and others on alternative views. The Greens can only scaremonger on nuclear accidents rather than offer cogent policy points in a fraught world.

Australia and its people are being dragged down a rabbit hole without being involved in the discussion as to the reasoning why. And then you wander why disillusionment with governments become the norm. I wonder why we continue to be so complacent in our submission.
Michael Wahren, Merrijig

A more honourable way

Before we get too smug about China’s failings, we should put our own house in order. We have democratic elections but our governance is dominated by anti-democratic lobbyists and donors.
We talk of human rights but we imprison many refugees without charge or trial and with no exit plan. I am old enough to remember a freer, more open and more representative country.

We need less loud talk and more quiet walk. We need to repeal repressive laws, ban lobbying, restrict donors and introduce a federal independent commission against corruption with teeth. We need a foreign affairs system that acts in Australia’s interests only. Then it will be much easier to deal with China in a sensible and honourable manner.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

A tale of two jobs

Teachers will have to be fully vaccinated (The Age, 23/9) so they can do 10 hours of work for eight hours pay, whereas the builders do not want to be vaccinated and want eight hours pay for six hours work. The world has gone stupid.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

AND ANOTHER THING

Victoria

All we need is a plague of locusts to round off the perfect year.
Barbara Greenaway, Mount Eliza

A celebration of selfishness at the Shrine of selflessness.
Bruce Prosser, Balwyn North

Very sad to see distress on the face of young girl at the protest.
Liz Williams, Eltham

Establish mobile vaccination clinics across the city. Everyone would disperse immediately.
Roan Plotz, Preston

How many of those anti-vaxxers use untested recreational drugs?
Anne Maki, Alphington

John Lennon keeps singing one line to me: “Strange days indeed”.
Robyn Carey, North Fitzroy

Rubber bullet or the jab? What a choice.
Anthony Barnes, Narre Warren

The hotheaded hooligans need to be cooled down by large water hoses.
Yvonne Lenders, Frankston South

Just because you work on the tools doesn’t mean you have to act like one.
David O’Reilly, Park Orchards

Not protests. Riots. Shame.
Marsha Merory, Ivanhoe East

How many of those protesting at the Shrine drape themselves in the Australian flag on Anzac Day?
Sue Peterken, Berwick

My father was a WWII veteran. His comment on the demonstrators would be unprintable.
Bill Proctor, Launching Place

Now an earthquake. Can’t the Andrews government get anything right?
Huck Bourke, Mount Martha

I’m going back to my Bible to see if Armageddon includes Fitzroy.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

The police are parents, sons, daughters and friends too. Thank you for your care of the community.
Sue Littleford, Clifton Springs

The AFL really did move heaven and earth to stage the grand final in Perth.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

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