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Credit: Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Patrick Hatch’s welcome front-page article (“Promise to build new rail lines goes west”, 2/8) highlights what those to the west of Melbourne have learnt to expect from a government who takes their votes for granted. The broken 2018 promise to electrify and duplicate rail lines to cope with the “unprecedented growth” affects those living in regional cities as well as those in the outer western suburbs.
It appears the best improvements to train services we can hope for on the Ballarat line are risible nine-carriage V/Line trains by 2028, given the historic station here is yet to be made fully accessible. For Melton, a new station and crossing-free precinct is promised by 2026. Again, a long overdue and a second-rate solution at best.
Travelling by train currently requires a degree of strategic planning if you wish to get a seat for the 90-minute trip, even from Ballarat. Are there AFL games or any major events on in Melbourne? Are buses to replace trains for all or part of the journey? Will the train have six or three carriages? By the time trains get to Melton station, those getting on very rarely find an empty seat regardless of the time of day.
So what will change? Bugger all I think, but I live in hope of an improved service many other countries seem to be able to provide as a matter of course.
Patricia Scholz, Ballarat
West deserves facilities
The latest decision to “pause” the development of a suitable and sustainable rail connection to the fast-growing western suburbs is an appalling and short-sighted decision by the Andrews government. These suburbs need and deserve decent public transport just as much as the older, established suburbs.
The continued ideology of just building more roads doesn’t cut it any more with rising fuel costs, overcrowded trains (when they appear) and planning and development designs occurring without sufficient infrastructure. To add insult to injury, the Western Highway is overcrowded and like a parking lot any time from 3pm onwards as people head home. Continually being treated like second-class citizens in safe seats is not the way forward.
Denise Stevens, Healesville
I read in The Age that promised new train lines to Melton and Wyndham have been axed. And so grows the list of broken “non-core” promises that the Andrews government used to buy itself a third term. I’m guessing that only the North-East Link and the Suburban Rail Loop projects are “core” promises. Of these, only the North-East Link can demonstrate even a half-way decent rate of return on investment.
James Tucker, Greensborough
Sticking with the wrong plan
As a retired transport engineer, I was appalled to read that the Andrews government has pulled the plug on yet another promise. Instead of duplicating and electrifying rail services to Melton and Wyndham Vale (currently shared with regional rail services), they will introduce 2000-seat, nine-carriage trains which will need upgraded station platforms to cater for the increased length. They offer no cost or timetable estimates. At the same time, they persist with the obscenely expensive Suburban Rail Link between Cheltenham and Glen Waverley at a cost of $34.5 billion and sure to grow (returning only 51¢ for each $1 spent).
It is the right time to get on with the Western Rail Plan followed by the Airport Rail Link and Melbourne Metro 2 across the CBD and put the Suburban Rail Link to rest until it is needed.
Bob Evans, Glen Iris
Protecting our needs
The Suburban Rail Loop’s environmental consequences and the contempt shown towards the Western suburbs by Labor in Victoria suggests that we, the people, need an enshrined voice in parliament that compels governments to listen and act in accordance with our planning, environment, transport and sustainability needs.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham
First, change the rules
According to former IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich, because not all corruption is a crime, there should be a different standard (than a crime being committed) applied to politicians for them to be prosecuted for corruption (“Former IBAC boss to keep speaking out”, 2/8). He has it the wrong way around. If all corruption is not a crime, the Crimes Act needs to be changed so that it is.
Corrupt activity should not only be a crime for politicians and police, but also for those in private business. At least, politicians are elected and are known by the people whereas plutocrats – some would say the real power elite – are not. Any act that corrupts our democracy should be a crime.
Paul Kennelly, Caulfield North
A low bar
IBAC’s legislation allows it only to investigate suspected criminal behaviour. So far as IBAC’s remit is concerned, corruption is defined out of existence, below that legislated threshold. From a moral and ethical point of view, for a body claimed to be set up to hold governments and others to account, that’s unsustainable.
As long as Premier Daniel Andrews fails to act to remove the legislation’s crippling restrictions, he invites suspicion about the integrity of his government.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
Lack of account
The four Labor MPs who subjected Robert Redlich to such inane and irrelevant questioning at parliament’s integrity and oversight committee deserve to face electoral consequences. It is profoundly regrettable that Victoria does not have an effective opposition to bring the Andrews government fully to account.
Hopefully, Redlich will have other opportunities to bring his concerns to the attention of the Victorian public. We need more people like him to expose the decline in Australian politics across the board, and to suggest ways to address it.
Allan Patience, Newport
Congratulations to The Age for the editorial on IBAC’s powers. Also to the courage of Robert Redlich in highlighting the importance of changes to ensure integrity in decision-making and a promise to continue trying to achieve this.
Surely, as long as politicians are members of this committee, it will be difficult to make a change.
Christine Baker, Rosanna
I read Osman Faruqi’s opinion piece about the Logies (“Kruger’s Logie win not a shock but still depressing”, 1/8) and it reminded me of a recent experience I had as an intern at a regional radio station. I had asked one of the managers what type of people they were looking for. They joked that they would accept anyone, except “… if we put a Moustafa on air, no one would really listen to them”.
Despite my confusion at this moment, I didn’t question their offensive remark because I was new and didn’t want to rock the boat. This type of culture and mindset is prevalent at a grassroots level where many graduates get their media experience and then move onto the mainstream.
I regret not having been more outspoken at the time but knew my privilege had protected me in pursuing a career in the media.
Name withheld on request
Duty of care
I’m with Ross Gittins: the older I get, the more I know we’ve mucked up (“Heat, rent, crap job. Go well, kids”, 2/8). Our belief that our kids would do better than us has been dashed. With our rampant consumption, we have decimated the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, jeopardising our children’s air, water, food and shelter. It seems we’ve failed in our duty of care to all children.
Senator David Pocock’s call this week for a duty of care in Australian law that would require governments to consider the impact of climate harm on young people is welcome. This is surely something all parents can get behind.
Karen Campbell, Geelong
Ross Gittins makes the point that many casual workers don’t even receive their 25 per cent loading in lieu of benefits associated with permanent employment. Yet, since this loading was introduced, permanent employees have gained many new benefits, including protection against unfair dismissal, new types of leave, training and redundancy payouts. It is no wonder employers find it cheaper to hire casuals.
An adjustment to the casual pay loading is long overdue. Increasing casual loading to, say, 40 per cent is not only fair but it would also make employers think twice about hiring a casual instead of a permanent employee.
Eric Keys, Flemington
Anthony Albanese misrepresents the facts by accusing the Coalition of voting no to everything: “Everything they see, they vote no to; there are consequences of that.” The prime minister also aims at the crossbench having a vote as he states: “The crossbench has only come into play because of the Coalition.” If this were true, then the supply bills would not have been passed many times, given Labor obtained just 32.58 per cent of the primary vote (its lowest percentage since 1934).
Labor holds 34 per cent of Senate seats and the Coalition 41 per cent. Clearly, Albanese must co-operate and negotiate with the other 25 per cent of senators and the opposition, who have good ideas.
Ross Kroger, Barwon Heads
Share the joy
Why is the example provided by the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup not being used as an approach to hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games? Australia and New Zealand are co-hosting the event over many venues in many cities, using existing sporting facilities to create a truly wonderful experience.
Victoria and Australia, think outside the square!
Victoria, the Australian government and all states and territories could work together to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Australia can take a positive place on the international stage and experience the happiness that participation in a global sporting event can bring. And Victoria would not need to pay for a contract breach.
Rosemary Cousin, Allambee South
A touching tribute to our beloved game of Aussie footy, his late father, uncle and cousin by Jim Pavlidis (“A football made me feel I belonged”, 2/8). The “Kew Injection” is still clogged with traffic and North Fitzroy has really kicked on (pun intended) since the ’50s. Pavlidis, long may you continue to work at The Age. Your work is incomparable.
Linda Fisher, Malvern East
Nobody above the law
Donald Trump continues to claim that these unprecedented historic charges against him represent a “witch-hunt” and “politically motivated Democrat interference in the 2024 election” (“Trump braces for two more historic indictments”, 2/8). Of course, he does because he believes he is above the law.
How dare anyone like the Justice Department and other law-enforcement agencies hold him to account? The demise of former president Richard Nixon in August 1974 following the Watergate scandal showed that not even a president or former president is above the law.
For the sake of American democracy, we can only hope that this generation of Americans hold demagogues like Trump to account.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris
In response to recent letters about the merits of electric vehicles, it’s important to challenge some common misconceptions.
First, there’s the assumption that private solar panels reduce EV emissions. This is a fallacy because if the EV is not charging, the exported solar power is displacing a fossil generator elsewhere on the grid and directly reducing CO2 emissions.
Second, in 2022, Victoria’s Essential Services Commission advised that 1.06 kilograms of
CO2-e were generated per kW hour of electricity consumed, meaning the most efficient Tesla Model Y would generate 14 kilograms of CO2 per 100 kilometres. This is more than the popular Toyota RAV4 petrol hybrid, which would generate 11.3 kilograms of CO2 per 100 kilometres.
As the grid increases its share of renewables, the amount of carbon dioxide produced by electric vehicles will reduce. However, if the additional embedded carbon in the supply of an EV over a conventional car is included, the near-term CO2 benefits are doubtful.
Let’s have a sensible discussion on the best way to bring down CO2 emissions. My vote is to concentrate on Australia’s mountainous task of 82 per cent renewables by 2030 and to encourage efficient petrol cars, and then worry about the tiny gains from EVs.
Richard O’Hanlon, Anglesea
Amplifying bad behaviour
A significant contributor to the rise of narcissistic behaviour among some children and their parents, as described by Jenna Price (“Your awful children are ruining unis”, 2/8), is the internet. Its echo chambers headed by charlatan influencers have turned civility and tolerance on its head and replaced it with insufferable self-entitlement and twisted perceptions of victimhood. This is manifesting itself as hair trigger outrage whenever unrealistic expectations are not met.
The internet has its pros and cons, but the cons are overrepresented by adverse behavioural outcomes. Bad behaviour and platforms that give power to it must continue to be called out.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
How can we learn from history, as requested by one correspondent (Letters, 2/8), if we keep rewriting it? We destroy buildings, remove statues and now we want to deny the existence of Captain Cook. He is an integral part of our history, whether we like it or not.
Trish Young, Hampton
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding
So, the integrity and oversight committee questioned Redlich about his integrity for highlighting the Andrews’ government decline in integrity?
David John Dickinson, Balwyn North
Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) says it all. Yet the Andrews government is resisting broadening its powers.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
If only IBAC grew a spine like ex-IBAC commissioner Redlich, that current tortoise might yet become a hare with real hair on its chest.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield
No one should question that integrity is paramount in government but surely the head of an integrity commission should expect the same scrutiny he or she exercises over parliamentarians and public servants.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
A population of 330 million and the dominant presidential candidate for the Republican Party is Donald Trump? God help the United States of America.
Warwick Watts, Black Rock
President in prison? No problem. Many gangsters run their criminal operations from prison.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West
The more Trump is indicted, the more his supporters like him. Washington we have a problem.
Ron Mather, Melbourne
The celebration of 100 days of school looks like fun. In my day all I learnt was to keep my head down from a nun brandishing a ruler.
Paul Custance, Highett
Those darling children dressed as old people. Now 92, I don’t have to “dress up” but I can see the funny side, and so can they.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
If concussion was more correctly labelled brain injury it might get the attention it needs.
Michelle Leeder, Trentham
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