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National cabinet has agreed to plans to give Australians a clear path out of life under COVID-19 restrictions. Under the details released by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, those vaccinated will get special rules to avoid some lockdown restrictions when 70 per cent of the eligible population have had two vaccine doses. When the national vaccination total hits 80 per cent, broad lockdowns will not be used in major cities, and international travel rules for Australians removed. The announcement, however, raised many questions among readers.

National cabinet has agreed on vaccination targets to lead Australia out of life under restrictions.Credit:Luis Ascui

Amelia0505: “Keep dreaming!! 80 per cent will never happen. What’s the long-term plan for living when the next variant arrives? More forethought is required for a future with COVID for several more years.”

Peter: “Nice plan ScoMo. I hope the COVID virus has signed off on it! Otherwise it’s likely to keep coming up with new mutations that completely change the game. There are still lots of unused letters left in the Greek alphabet. I think ScoMo, and the media, could do a much better job in the expectation management department.”

Smithy: “What happens if we never reach 80 per cent double vaccinated? What happens if there are 25 per cent of Australian adults who chose not to vaccinate? Does that mean expat Australians continue to have limitations on returning home? Another case of a policy not well thought through and will potentially require adjustment announcements later.”

Mr Rufus: “The special rules will be forgotten by the time we hit 50 per cent as we will realise getting people to vaccinate is hard.”

Conscious: “I’m sorry, but how dare they retain caps on vaccinated Australians overseas returning until there is 80 per cent vaccination rates at home. This is a target we may never hit, and yet the govt is proposing still locking out returning vaccinated Australians with flight caps until 80 per cent reached? Ludicrous.”

M+PN: “70 per cent of eligible people. You mean 50-55 per cent of total population. Why have we previously been told 80 per cent of total population to get to the point of opening up and now it is much less? I fear this will cost too many lives.”

susan searle: “Since we are currently at 14 per cent, this seems like a lifetime away. It would be much more motivational to bring in incentives now to encourage people to get vaccinated.”

Older Wiser Grumpier: “When, Scotty, When? When will your government deliver enough vaccine for 80 per cent of the population to be vaccinated? 2022? 2023? All very well giving these percentages. You need to deliver against them.”

NewsNitPicker: “70 per cent why? It’s not even guaranteed, I can see five premiers that would shut down in a blink 70, 80 or even 90 per cent. Fully vaccinated people should be exempted from lockdown, border closures and travel restrictions immediately. Why are they treated the same as an unvaccinated person?”

jan.irzyk: “You can’t provide any preferential treatment to the vaccinated as long as there are people who WANT to get jabbed but there’s no vaccine available for them. It is very frustrating but that’s the only fair option I believe.“

Gra: “So 80 per cent is the target. Let’s get going folks, encourage everyone you know to get the jab sooner rather than later. Those waiting for Pfizer, are holding the practical Aussies back.”

L.: “I would prefer to hear about built for purpose quarantine so that we can stop the virus leaking into our population in the first place. All outbreaks to date have been imported.”

Sabriane: “I’m far more worried about the cultural and psychological barriers that the risk-averse, safety-obsessed Australia will have to overcome in order to cease lockdowns and open the international borders. It will require letting go of the zero COVID mindset and accepting an inevitable amount of deaths and hospitalisations, a proposition that just about every other country in the world is in a better position to accept. Even 80 per cent vaccination is not going to create a magical shield that will bounce COVID right off. Can we vaccinate ourselves against the panic when the virus is let back in and allowed to circulate?”

What is your religion?

Tuesday is census night and one of the questions respondents will be asked to answer is: What is your religion? In the article, “What the religion question in the census really means”, senior writer Caitlin Fitzsimmons looked at how the seemingly simple question is increasingly contentious. While some will answer based on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), others will answer based on cultural identity. It is also common for people to respond according to the religion they were raised with rather than their current beliefs. Some groups believe the way the question is phrased is inflating the official figures for religious membership in Australia. While some readers saw reason to reword the question, others wondered why over-complicate the issue.

Australians will be asked about their religion in the census.Credit:Shutterstock

Anton Ady: “I think two better questions would be, ‘do you attend church each week and if so choose a denomination otherwise tick no religion’ and ‘what religion do you align to or choose no religion’ for those who say they live their lives according to the precepts of a religion without practicing formally, e.g. Christianity, etc.”

Brian: “Perhaps just a ‘are you active in this religion’ tick box?”

HJ: “The questions should be: Do you believe in god? Do you follow a religion?”

Annie: “Not sure what the problem is here. Tick the box that applies to you and forget about which other box people might tick. It’s none of your business. Seriously, what now? The box-ticking police?”

riverjunction: “I used to write Church of England even though I was an atheist from childhood, because CofE was the religion of my family. Now I just tick ‘No religion’… I wonder if the increase in ‘no religion’ responses is due to people like me now giving their actual personal view rather than their cultural background.”

JK: “That’s a complex question for me. I’m christened, went through confirmations, got married in a church, and am a member of a church, so I’d think that’s considered as having a religious affiliation. But, I don’t see myself as religious – it is much more a question of culture and tradition for me. So, in that sense I feel like answering ‘no religion’.”

den-tony: “Do they have an ‘I believe in science’ category? I guess I will have to settle for atheist.”

Billy Boy: “I’m a follower of the prophet John Lennon: ‘Imagine there’s no religion’.”

NewsNitPicker: “As an agnostic it’s always amused me how professed nonbelievers, and atheists get hot under the collar about what others may or may not believe … so funny … so hypocritical.”

Buff: “It’s because religious people, including religious politicians, are telling us what we can and cannot do based on their ‘faith’. They demand a tax-free status for their institutions and freedom from the anti-discrimination laws.”

apshai: “Funny how a device that is meant to accurately measure a belief system doesn’t allow you to give an accurate answer. It either means that someone is pushing their own particular agenda (yes, I’m looking at you religion!) Or the accuracy of the census doesn’t really matter!”

A: “No questions are perfect. In statistics it’s more important to ask an imperfect question consistently than to ask better questions that change frequently.”

cccm: “Faith is an essential component of everyone’s life, whether you believe or not. So if you don’t have any faith, you mark no faith. For others, the question is not whether you are lapsed or not, as some have suggested. It is natural for you to question your faith over the course of your life, it doesn’t mean you have lapsed. Mark the question as you believe is best. Simple.”

T 412: “I just did my census and found the religion question very straightforward. The first option is ‘no religion’, if you answer yes to no religion you move on to the next question, if not you get to choose from a list of religions. I don’t understand how people are reading things into this question that aren’t there.”

‘In the spirit of the Games’

There was no denying the joy of high jumpers, Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi, when they tied to share gold at the Tokyo Olympics. In his opinion piece, ‘The absurdity of athletes choosing gold medals’, Jake Niall acknowledged “the moment was certainly “memorable, uplifting even”. However the sports writer questioned the decision to award the pair gold, with it seemingly left up to the athletes themselves, rather than a rulebook, to decide whether they would share the spoils rather than risk a jump-off. Some readers dismissed Niall’s objections (and comparisons with golf and tennis), writing it was a great display of sportsmanship and in “the spirit of the Games”. Others however argued that the rules needed to be clearer.

Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi tied for gold in the high jump.Credit:Getty Images

Chicken Man: “It was a fairytale ending to a great night of competition and camaraderie. We need a bit of that at the moment.”

Forwards not backwards: “It is in keeping with the magic and the spirit of the Olympics. We need more positive examples like this.

Sheila Martin: “Sportsmanship triumphs over ego, selfishness and greed.“

Mark Grooby: “One of the best moments I have witnessed in sport. Both deserved it. Glad there was not count back like the long jump final. Penalty shoot outs are not a way to win a match. Sometimes we just don’t need a winner and loser in life.”

orrtron: “I think it will stay in memory as a tribute to sportsmanship, the event had run its course and they were equal. Imagine if there had been a jump-off and one of the competitors had torn a hamstring.”

adrian: “Not to sound curmudgeonly. But it was not so much sportsmanship as common sense to share the gold rather than risk a jump-off. If you have a gold medal in your pocket, why risk a silver just to stop the other bloke getting gold as well? You have nothing to win and everything to lose. Well played to both of them for making the right call and being a gold medallist. But don’t call it sportsmanship.”

Rank amateur: “Eventually somebody will win in golf play-offs or tennis tie breakers. High jumpers will not necessarily clear another height if there is a tie. The only way you might manufacture a result is by progressively lowering the bar, which would be absurd. The rules make sense.”

Oldad: “Jake Niall, I think you miss the point. The two examples you mention – golf and tennis – are professional sports with big dollars. This is the Olympics. The decision, within the rules, by the athletes is exactly in the spirit of the Games.”

Jeff B: “The rules are not flawed. Ties exist in many sports, including many Olympic sports, including swimming at these Olympics, albeit not for gold in that case. This was the best possible outcome for two competitors who couldn’t be separated in their competition.”

trevorowl: “Giving the athletes a choice might be unusual but nothing wrong with joint first (or second, or third). You can have dead heats in other track and field events, and in other sports, so why not in the high jump? But make the rules clear and don’t leave it up to the athletes to decide.”

The_Big_M: “The only ‘flaw’ I would agree was that there is a choice. That implies a non-standard process rather than a rule as it means the outcome could vary each time. However, in this case the actual process they followed is both sensible and reasonable, and the outcome correct and as it should be.”

Beachcomber: “I think a penalty shoot out in football or hockey is a cruel way to decide gold. They might as well toss a coin, so much is down to luck. But I think high jump is different. It comes down to their skill. If athletes can negotiate over gold medals, will we see the day when the 9 finalists in the 100 metres all agree to share gold?”

Oz: “There was a simpler and much more appropriate solution available. Surely, as there was NO clear winner in the high jump, the two athletes should have been sharing the silver medal. Much fairer to the rest of the competitors, and more reflective of the actual results.”

Online readers of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age made 55,989 comments on 573 stories in the past week.

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