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Andrew DysonCredit: .
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No surprise that federal funding for the Geelong fast rail has been axed and that the airport rail project is uncertain. These two are always announced every couple of years as things that have needed to be done ages ago, yet they never seem to get started. By now, no one is really listening when these projects are announced, because we know they’ll never happen. Time to move on.
David Jeffery, East Geelong
It was just smoke and mirrors
No lesser organisations than the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office and the Parliamentary Budget Office have amply demonstrated that the Suburban Rail Loop is an uneconomic, inflationary waste of resources, using Infrastructure Australia’s own guidelines.
The project’s sole purpose was to ensure the re-election of the Labor government. Along with a regional Commonwealth Games. It’s all smoke and mirrors and the federal Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, should not spend another single taxpayers’ dollar on it. Housing is what we need, not railways to nowhere that no one will use.
James Tucker, Greensborough
It is time to dump the Loop
Minister Catherine King’s infrastructure review has good advice for the state government on the Suburban Rail Loop: heed your own auditor-general’s report. The auditor-general found the SRL business case was deficient, did not properly assess alternatives and may have overstated its benefits.
King says the state government must show the SRL will increase housing before it gets any more funding than $2 billion for preliminary works. Why not spend the budgeted $11 billion, which only partially funds the first stage of the SRL, on public housing?
Preliminary works have shown the SRL tunnels will have to burrow through asbestos-riddled sites, and find somewhere to put the contaminated tunnel spoil. That nearby residents who complained were initially told the asbestos was non-friable (i.e., would not crumble easily), before hazard signs went up and people in hazmat suits came to remove it, showed this was folly.
The plan to put the rail stabling yard, plus an 800-metre above-ground railway line, on land promised for 30 years for the Chain of Parks in the green wedge at Heatherton when there is a suitable industrial estate nearby on a direct route between stations was a straw in the wind for other planning mistakes and for the fundamental unsustainability of the project. Time to dump the Loop.
Andrew and Carol Dawson, Heatherton
Put the money into essential needs
The cancelling of several infrastructure projects is the correct decision. We should be prioritising expenditure on our failing key services – health, education and aged care.
Robert Phillips, Templestowe
A man of integrity
I’m now a teacher of students with special needs, but in another life I graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, as a junior officer in the Australian Army. My key takeaway from my demanding training there was to act with ″integrity″.
Australian officers are told and tested under duress to act with integrity; well that was the focus during my time there in the 1990s. Integrity was looking after your mates in a tight spot, as well as analysing orders to determine whether they were lawful or a war crime.
Such situations were explicitly covered by our trainers. Upholding our integrity to make the correct, moral decision was our duty. Therefore, I am deeply concerned by the court rulings that David McBride did not have a duty of public interest, instead his duty was to the Crown. I feel McBride has acted with integrity.
Rob Cannon, Leongatha
Granny flats will not solve the housing crisis (Editorial, 16/11). What they will do is destroy many urban gardens and the vegetation, especially mature trees, they contain. It will reduce shade and cooling, diminish habitat and biodiversity and prevent much outdoor activity, including food growing. This will negate much of the efforts in recent years to grow the ″urban forest″ to minimise the heat island effect.
Thousands of people need housing but each flat will only be suitable for one or two people at most. The cumulative reduction in green spaces in the city will be disastrous. Pandemic lockdowns reminded us of the value of parks and gardens and the connection with the natural world they provide and yet we continue to build on golf courses and destroy trees that are in the way of development.
Granny flats may be appropriate in some instances, but we must find ways to balance development with the retention of desperately needed green spaces and mature trees.
Anne Heath Mennell, Tenby Point
Roots of criticism
There is racism in Australia, but criticism of Israel or any country should be argued on the merits, not with the response that the criticism is motivated by racism.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood
Is this support?
It is great that so many people around the world including international leaders, students and the UN are showing their support for the Palestinian people. If only Hamas was doing the same.
Disagree without threats
Your correspondent (Letters, 15/11) writes with obvious heartfelt sentiment about those who have suffered on both sides of the Israel-Hamas war. However, his suggestion Israel’s government reflect on what damage Israel’s actions in Gaza will cause Jewish people internationally is worrying in that it links the war with increased antisemitism in Australia. He may well be correct, but why does this need be so? We are all Australians, yes, with a variety of points of view, but we need to live together without threats, violence and hatred just because we happen to disagree.
George Greenberg, Malvern
Red flag to a bullbar
Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton may or may not be right about 30km/h urban speed limits being ridiculous, but what’s next? A man running in front of every car waving a red flag to warn pedestrians and cyclists?
On the high ground
The Liberal Party was in power for nine years and did nothing about the detainees. So now they are taking the moral high ground since the High Court decision. Too late, we cried.
Christine Hammett, Richmond
They is not one
Many of us readily embraced “Ms” as an alternative to “Miss” and “Mrs”, but why is it taking so long to come up with a new and much-needed gender-neutral noun? I always feel the ghostly disapproving presence of English teachers past when referring to an individual as “they”.
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton
No time for hubris
Peter Dutton is yet again conflating two issues for political opportunism in linking the High Court decision on immigration detention and antisemitism. Dutton reflects a war on terrorism mentality, an aftermath of 9/11. This is neither helpful nor comprehends the complexity of the Israeli-Hamas conflict. His remarks are divisive and create chaos and confusion. Thousands of people have lost their lives, this is not the time for opportunistic hubris.
Columnist Martin Parkinson says a lack of education about how our political system works creates conditions for disinformation and cynicism to thrive (Comment, 17/11).
However, it is unclear just how an understanding of the bicameral system or the differences between an election and a referendum would help. An ability to distinguish between federal and state government does not allow us decide which politicians are telling the truth.
The most schools can do is teach the mechanics of the political system. Going beyond that is problematic. For instance, a teacher using aspects of the No campaign in the recent referendum as a case study in ″disinformation″ would risk accusations of bias and partisanship.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
With Victoria’s already alarming state debt a major concern, the public should question the real cost – and worth – of the grand prix. The Commonwealth Games were cancelled because of the $3billion expected cost overrun. That parallels the expected cost borne by Victorians for the grand prix to 2037.
For my colleagues and me (a nurse), this year’s $100 million GP loss alone could have built a badly needed new intensive care unit for our hospital.
I’d rather state money go towards, for example, better housing, transport and a health system for my family, my mates and me.
Joan Logan, South Melbourne
Taking it to the streets
The government has dredged up the tired old refrain about young protesters “they should be in school”. I’m sure I heard the same thing when thousands marched against the Vietnam War in the late ’60s. School is important but so is taking to the streets to highlight wrong policy.
Philip Nicholls, Hadfield
A fig-leaf war argument
George Brandis writes (Comment, 13/11) that ″democratic leaders require popular support for war. Dictators do not.″
This is a fig-leaf. Democratic leaders can, and do, whip up ″popular″ support for war, even when thousands of protesters take to the streets, as they did against the Iraq War. That fig-leaf also hides the fact that democratic leaders do not require a war to be legal, as the Iraq War so amply demonstrated. Nor do democratic leaders need the decision to go to war to pass parliament.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills
Although agreeing with your correspondent’s sentiment (“A girl’s message″, 17/11), Anne Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen camp after being transferred from Auschwitz.
Wendy Savage, Black Rock
PM flying high
The term “Airbus Albo” should be considered a badge of honour by the prime minister. He’s racking up frequent flyer points thanks to the former government’s foreign policy failures. He’s the first PM to visit China in six years. And when visiting the Cook Islands I don’t recall him making a joke about climate change causing that country to be overwhelmed by rising sea levels.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene
There’s no chance a car would plunge into a pool at a public school.
John Handley, Cheltenham
AND ANOTHER THING
Infrastructure – stimulating the economy one minute, inflationary the next. Harder to balance than spinning plates on sticks.
Greg Curtin, Nunawading
Clearly, no federal Transport Department advisers live in Geelong (″Funding feud tipped to ignite″, 17/11).
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill
If the state government is serious about climate change, perhaps it could spend the $198 million it cost to stage the carbon fuel guzzling grand prix on more solar energy subsidies.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
So many things we can’t afford, insufficient anatomical pathologists and a trainline to Tullamarine among them. What about we scrap the grand prix and pay a bit more tax?
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
The First World War was meant to be the ″war to end all wars″. I would point out Bertrand Russell’s quote: ″War does not determine who is right – only who is left.″
Steve Barrett, Glenbrook
Can we please stop calling them “granny flats”? Very few grannies will live in them and “flats” disappeared around 1970. We could call them ″hippy pads” if we wanted to stay retro but really they are “secondary dwellings”.
John Laurie, Riddells Creek
Walking on the right-hand side of a shared path? In that direction lies chaos.
Graham Bridge, Morwell
Bells on bikes seem to be good luck charms to protect the rider. Pedestrians have to make their own.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
Who knew the AFL thought 10 minutes made so much difference.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon
If that toolbox that was left behind in outer space by NASA astronauts hits a business satellite, it’ll really put a spanner in the works.
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir
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