Anyone who has been watching the Australian fires has seen much of the horror that nature can produce. There has been criticism of the way the government has handled the disasters and even criticism of the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and how he shakes hands with the people he meets.

Shaking hands is a positive way to greet people and in the past it was a sign of peace showing you were not holding weapons although it must be genuine and equitable. There have been handshakes that symbolised change and hope, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993, Raul Castro and Barack Obama in 2016 and Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In in 2018 although not all led to successful negotiations. A shake hand should be firm, not aggressive President Trump, although when meeting Queen Elizabeth it is probably appropriate to remember that she is a 93 year old.

Prime Minister Morrison has met many people with a handshake although some have declined it for various reasons and that should be their right. The problem as shown in the news, probably only an edited selection, is that he has then gone on to grab their hand and force them to shake hands, realistically an assault and certainly offensive. There have been a number of reports of his lack of empathy.

We should always greet people with a handshake or its cultural equivalent and if it is declined accept that and move on. We need to meet and greet openly and with hope in our hearts.

Dennis Fitzgerald,

Melbourne, Australia