The government has not justified need for rail loop

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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TRANSPORT

The government has not justified need for rail loop

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan says, “Victorians endorsed the [Suburban Rail Loop] at the ballot box and the business case shows it stacks up” (The Age, 1/4). Infrastructure Victoria and most Labor politicians knew nothing about the project – which was conceived in secret by Daniel Andrews and a chosen few – when it was announced three months before the 2018 state election.

No business case was prepared prior to the announcement, and it took at least 18 months to produce a Utopia-like one. The proposed suburban rail loop is a huge con. If we need all five rail lines to be connected, there are far cheaper solutions. Most of the so-called hubs already contain high-density, mixed-use development. The two university precincts can be connected to the adjacent rail networks and density increased if required.

Were any alternatives to the loop considered? If not, why not? Has a demand for a direct public transport connection between Cheltenham and Box Hill been proven? I suspect that the next farce will be the very expensive “hearings” to justify the project, which pretend to give councils and the public their say. The terms of reference will be so narrow that tough questions cannot be asked. A fee fest for the lawyers.
Des Grogan, retired traffic engineer, Sorrento

All the great cities have cross-city connections

Roshena Campbell flippantly says the Suburban Rail Loop “would make it easier for a Monash academic to start their day with a swim in Black Rock and end it with dumplings in Box Hill, but that doesn’t quite make the case” (Opinion, 31/3).

Any great city with a well-designed public transport system has cross-city connections and loops. Think Paris, Vienna or Tokyo. These are essential for commuters and the conduct of business as are outer-ring rounds for the movement of freight.
Elizabeth Grgacic, Fitzroy North

Loop will especially benefit country travellers

The Suburban Rail Loop is a vital piece of public transport infrastructure, solving the current problem of our existing radial train network. Public transport, that is not road-dependent and hence unreliable due to traffic, is the future.

Moving people around the outer suburbs, rather than into the CBD and out again. The 90-kilometre rail loop will link Frankston to Werribee via Melbourne Airport. For country travellers, we will be able to link through Clayton. In 30 years’ time, most Victorians will likely wonder how we ever managed without it.
Leone Thiele, Cape Paterson

The shift from our cars to public transport

This century seems likely to see more people move away from cars to public transport for many reasons, including the cost of cars, fuel and parking, issues with congestion, prioritising housing over cars, and environmental concerns – even if the threat of COVID-19 is currently putting people back in their cars. Improved public transport is essential, especially in areas where it is inadequate or non-existent. This is a decades-long process that requires vision and forward planning. The federal government’s inability to acknowledge its importance seems, at best, short-sighted.
Emma Borghesi, Rye

For some of us, it can be a very long trek

I support the Victorian government’s efforts to upgrade our public transport system. When you rely on trains and these are replaced by buses at short notice, it makes things difficult.

For example, on Saturday afternoon I saw a film in Westgarth, and had to get a bus from Heidelberg. My bus was very full and many people were left behind along the way.

The film finished at 8.30pm. After about 15 minutes, a bus came but did not stop. Eventually another bus came. I stepped onto the road and hailed it, but it went past too. A third bus stopped. At Heidelberg, I caught an Eltham train and then waited for a Hurstbridge train. I got home after 11pm.

The current system is shoddy and inefficient for a modern city. People are fed up and deserve much better.
Steven Katsineris, Hurstbridge

THE FORUM

Grace before brutishness

When Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to our Parliament (The Age, 1/4), and our representatives actually listened in silence, it was possible to imagine a national assembly where dignity rather than disgrace was the characteristic mode of conducting government business.

Must it take the horror of a war that affects many of our country’s immigrants and their descendants, and the pleading of a supplicant from the leader of their friendly nation of origin, to quell our representatives’ more brutish impulses? How does this fit with earlier supplicant nations whose former inhabitants are still in our outsourced detention centres?
Michael Sharkey, Castlemaine

Tough line on Russia

The Australian government will impose an additional 35 per cent tariff on imports from Russia and Belarus. Isn’t that just profit for the Australian Taxation Office and token opposition to the war in Ukraine? Ban all Russian imports, I say.
David Tuck, Clydesdale

Respect, care, dignity

Re “Labor promises $2.5billion boost to fix aged care” (The Age, 1/4). How lovely to hear the words “registered nurse”, “on site at all hours” and “aged care” in the same sentence. And then words like care, dignity and respect. (Tears and relief.)
Glenda Addicott, Ringwood East

Give us the statistics …

Anthony Albanese has outlined Labor’s plan to address the desperate needs in the aged care sector. The churlish response from Simon Birmingham was outrageous and defensive of a government which was dragged to a royal commission on aged care due to the number of deaths and scandals.

Maybe he can advise us how many of the commission’s 148 recommendations have been accepted by the government, how many have been implemented and how many have been disregarded as being of no use in the election campaign.
Robert Saunders, Box Hill North

… and what is your plan?

Anthony Albanese believes in higher wages, better health, better education, lower emissions, it goes on. Yes, Mr Albanese, we get that everybody believes in those things. Now tell us how you are going to get there.
Murray Horne, Cressy

Boost teacher workforce

Career change teachers (The Age, 1/4) have been critical to the teaching workforce for years and should get support. This should be part of a broader strategy. A government report released last year documented widespread out-of-field teaching especially in mathematics.

I looked in vain in the budget papers for any program that supported solutions to the major problem with teacher supply. It is closely linked to the tertiary sector. If universities do not offer a major in key disciplines such as English and mathematics, there is a problem with teacher supply there. Unfortunately, many universities do not, especially outside of capital city centres.

The Morrison government claims it has a strategy “for a more dynamic, responsive and capable workforce” (media release, 29/3). This has to be underpinned by a well-qualified, well-paid and respected teacher workforce.
Jan Thomas, North Melbourne

Kids before diplomats

What would be more useful – building a new $65million high commission chancery in Solomon Islands or using that same amount of money to employ 100 teachers for 50 years to work with Solomon Islands children?
Judith Paphazy, Cape Schanck

End financial rorting

The budget, and election campaigning generally, has shown the weakness of our electoral system. It is now considered clever politics to channel taxpayer funds into infrastructure and other projects in marginal seats, regardless of their merit or valid business cases.

Similarly, party leaders will draw little criticism from spending all of their time in these seats while not stepping foot inside more than half of the country. This matters because it leaves many Australians as irrelevant onlookers to the choosing of a new government. This feeds into complacency and cynicism. It also represents a massive redistribution of resources from where they are needed to where they are politically preferred.

Even Victoria is treated with budgetary contempt as the focus goes on NSW and Queensland seats.
A voting system such as that for Victoria’s Legislative Council (proportional representation) would deal all Australians back into relevance and end the financial rorting.
Peter Allan, Brunswick West

No laughing matter

Smoking causes heart attacks. Shane Warne’s funeral could have been a powerful illustration for millions of young people if one of the speakers had pointed this out, instead of making jokes about Shane’s fags.
Dr Ralph Frank, Malvern East

Imperfect champions

Shane Warne was a smoker, gambler and womaniser, among other things. But he received a state funeral and a stand at the MCG has been named in his honour. People should lay off Margaret Court. No one is perfect in their private life. Let’s just acknowledge their sporting contributions.
Steven Vlamis, Highton

The needy before the rich

Australian politicians need to look at the models implemented in the Scandinavian countries for many years. Higher tax for the people who can afford to pay. Fairer tax scales for the wealthy, multinationals and big business to compensate for health, housing, aged care and childcare. Enough is enough in this “rich gets richer” policy model.
Bev Goss, Parkdale

High cost of fossil fuels

If the government really wanted to help Australians with their transport, in the near and longer term, it could have made it easier to convert to electric cars. Scott Morrison says he is not buying votes, but cutting the price of fuel is very short-term when the government could be preparing us better for the future by helping eliminate the need for petrol. At the same time, it would help us achieve our emissions target. The real price of fossil fuels is an uninhabitable Earth.
Cate Lewis, Clifton Hill

The ACCC must act

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the new chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, wants to ensure outlets pass on the full reduction in the fuel excise (The Age, 31/3) Yet for years the ACCC has not acted against the companies that do not pass on in full the four cent government subsidy on E10 fuel.
Rob Hocart, Tyabb

Plan to eradicate ferals

Your correspondent – “Feral funding” (Letters, 31/3) – has the right idea but has not thought it through. If concerned citizens start culling feral beasts for their pelts, what happens to their bodies? They cannot be put in the garbage, and burying is out of the question. No, it needs a concentrated, organised plan from the authorities because the problem of ferals will only get worse. Please.
Sue Acheson, Rokeby

Classic, simple answers

Re the debate on pegs in the letters pages. As someone who often puts the washing on the line and grapples with the pegs, it occurred to me recently how much easier to use would be the “dolly pegs” that peddlers used to make in England back in the day, and come round knocking on doors to sell them (and lucky heather as well). The pegs were made of wood and whittled into the shape of a human, with no moving parts. To peg the clothes, the figure was simply rammed down, a leg either side of the line and the cloth. So simple.
Anthony Whitmarsh, Viewbank

Oops, Prime Minister

It might not be the best strategy to market yourself as a decent, ordinary bloke who can mop up and wash hair when those who have worked closely with you are scathing about your character.
Ron Slamowicz, Caulfield North

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Politics

I’ll vote for any politician who doesn’t drone on about “ordinary working Australians” who “talk around the kitchen table”.
Lois Davey, Leopold

Finally aged care becomes an election issue. Will it prevail? In any event, thank you, Anthony Albanese.
Carol Williams, Forest Hill

The crisis in aged care will remain until there is more money for the workers and fewer Ferraris for the providers.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

The glaring weakness in the government’s budget is the centrepiece of Labor’s budget reply – aged care.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton

Once again Josh Frydenberg undermines Victoria. Remember that, Kooyong voters.
Peter Gerrand, West Melbourne

Do voters frame the cost of living alongside the cost of climate inaction? They are inextricably linked and we ignore this at our peril.
Catherine Krestyn, Hawthorn

Searching for a non-knee-jerking PM.
Deb Dean, Brunswick East

So Lambie says Scott Morrison is a bully. It takes one to know one.
David White, Fitzroy North

Shane Warne

I’m no fan of the PM but booing him at Warne’s memorial was wrong.
Lisa James, Lalor

I’m surprised Morrison didn’t wear a hi-vis jacket and hard hat, and come with an entourage of camera men.
John Cain, McCrae

A television audience of a billion (1/4)? Who did the figures, the Grand Prix Corporation?
Kevin Summers, Bentleigh

Ukraine

Is this conflict a war or invasion? There’s been a trend for these “warvasions” over recent decades.
Roderick Carmichael, St Kilda

Given Thatcher and Reagan conspired to dismantle the USSR, shouldn’t we have anticipated Putin’s response?
Kieran Maher, Mont Albert

We see 1984’s “thought police” in action when Russians may be arrested for holding up blank sheets.
Isobel Bell, Ocean Grove

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