To Jacob Saulwick's complaints about track work and the Baird government's handling of Sydney trains and the metro line ("Baird's promises run off the rails", January 12), he can add the already growing demand for trains along the Sydenham-Bankstown rail corridor as high-rise residential development gathers pace. Hundreds of units are nearing completion beside Canterbury railway station, without any transport provision for the residents who will move in to the area. The much touted metro won't be completed for another 10 years and even then the entire line will need to be closed for 12 months and commuters forced back onto already congested roads.
John Bailey Canterbury
Jacob Saulwick hits a raw nerve in his piece about the Sydney Trains Network. On Monday night I wanted to catch a train from Croydon to Olympic Park for the Fast 4 Tennis Exhibition. I discovered that I would have to catch three separate trains just to make the journey. This was ridiculous for such a short trip so I decided to drive. When the audience at the event was asked via crowd poll how they got to the arena, more than 80 per cent had travelled by car. The horrendous traffic en route to the event suddenly made sense. Why has the government made it so inconvenient to catch a train to Olympic Park, and will this elusive 60 per cent capacity increase Saulwick mentions make it easier to travel to one of our biggest sporting and entertainment precincts?
James Sandland Croydon
Converting the Bankstown line to metro operation will free up some space on the City Circle, but it is difficult to see how this will provide meaningful benefit to commuters from the west and north, for whom the congested tracks between Strathfield and Central limit the expansion of their services. The government may be hoping that many western Sydney commuters will switch to the north-west metro, and some people going to Macquarie or Chatswood may well do so, but this line is already supposed to take 12000 cars off the road in the peak, cater for most M2 bus passengers, and accommodate existing growth and new high-density residential development. How many long-distance passengers will switch to a train with only half the seats per carriage as the double-decker alternative?
Doug Walker Baulkham Hills
Concerns for rail services within the Sydney basin continue to dominate discussion and government funding. Yet little is heard of the continuing downgrading of station statuses further afield. Our local rail station (once a highlighted focus on the Illawarra line for commuters) has been virtually bypassed by recent rail timetables. The car park stands vacant as commuters head further south (by car) for more frequent services at Thirroul.
Here, even with a newly constructed (yet distant) car park, parking facilities are maximised, causing inconvenience to local businesses. Commuters, however, can no longer merely walk to and from their local station. The lack of immediacy in connecting trains for "downgraded stations" and the lack of taxis to assist (particularly later at night) increase safety concerns for us all.
Cost cutting and significant downgrading of stations has increased security concerns and safety risks for commuters in our area and any formal complaints are met with a cursory dismissal. We certainly feel omitted from Mr Baird's grander Sydney plans.
Janice Creenaune Austinmer
Fixed infrastructure offers a better guide to the capacity increase provided by Sydney Metro. This line will be additional to the Illawarra-Eastern Suburbs, Western-North Shore, City Circle supporting South-Inner West-Airport-East Hills, Cumberland, and the minor Carlingford and Olympic Park lines. A 25 per cent, rather than 60 per cent, capacity increase is nearer the mark. Automation will lift the capacity of all rail lines and should be a high priority for the government. A real game-changer would be network enhancements that allow many more trains, and new passengers to cross the metro area in a north-south direction without going through the Sydney CBD.
Peter Egan Artarmon
Yes, minister, the season closes on open government
Complaints about the Baird government's failure to release a review of procedures for compulsory acquisition of private property are a reminder of the wisdom available in Yes Minister ("Review on compulsory acquisition kept secret despite actions", January 12).
Jim Hacker, like many cabinet ministers before and since, said that he wanted a new broom to cut a swath through the stuffy bureaucracy and would throw open the windows and let in a bit of fresh air. Filled with the enthusiasm of the newly elected, the Greiner government introduced freedom of information legislation in 1989 to give legal backing to open government, but, as did Hacker, premier Greiner and others soon found out a policy of open government is good for oppositions, not for government.
Jacob Saulwick's experience ("Baird's promises run off the rails", January 12) with requests for information on Premier Baird's claim that the capacity of Sydney's rail network would be boosted by 60 per cent, confirms that obtaining government information often turns into a poker game. Unfortunately for information seekers, the government always holds the trump card of making the file unavailable by marking it "Cabinet".
Paul Eddington, who played Jim Hacker, visited the NSW Premier's Department in 1987, and showed a detailed knowledge of how democratic governments work. Ministers would benefit from reading the scripts of Yes Minister, and Mike Baird could then quote helpful sayings such as "This is the closed season for open government".
James Moore Kingsgrove
Again women bear financial burden
I would be interested to know how many cents or dollars Gerard Kirwan (Letters, January 12) puts aside each week towards routine screening for prostate and testicular cancers. Ditto how much GST he pays on essential sanitary products used exclusively by males. Would it be presumptuous of me to suggest that he does not? The most recent round of Medicare cuts can be easily dismissed as mere cents-per-week over the longer term, but this obscures the fact that once again, women are being asked to bear a greater financial burden. Those cents and dollars add up quickly.
Thea Gumbert-Jourjon Alexandria
I'm wondering if having a pap smear is a priority for Gerard Kirwan?
Roger Clark Five Dock
Gerard Kirwan makes the assumption that everyone has a spare 60¢ a week to save for their annual pap scan. I am lucky enough to have enough discretionary income to afford most medical needs but I know people for whom a one-off 60¢ payment means a cut to a minimal food budget. LNP governments and even some moderately poor people just do not get it. There are lots of people, particularly in rural areas, living well below the poverty line. Parents, in particular, are inclined to place their children's nutrition above their own, yet alone health screening and would not think of saving 60¢ a week on food for a test that will probably come back negative. Eventually they have to have the test and it comes back positive.
Brian Burbage Inverleigh (Vic)
Capital gain a myth
I paid $73,000 for my home in 1984 ("Labor rejects tax on top-end homes", January 12). It is now valued at 20 times that amount. If I sold it I would be required to then pay real estate agent fees on the sale, removal fees, stamp duty on the new house and other incidentals that would be close to $100,000. That means after selling my house for $1.4 million, I can now only afford to buy a house worth $1.3 million. On what planet is that considered a capital gain?
The formula for market inflation used to assess capital gains tax bears no relationship to actual market escalation, as it is designed to maximise tax returns. To include the principal residence, the family home, in this process is immoral. In another five to 10 years my humble home will breach the proposed threshold, which means I will then be condemned to moving out of Sydney when I sell to move into a single-storey home more comfortable on ageing knees.
Gary Bigelow Oatlands
Fuelled trajectory of the true Starman
Last night I looked up and there was a "Starman waiting in the sky". I said to my wife, "Let's dance". Vale David Bowie.
Denis Goodwin Dee Why
David Bowie was a normal 69-year-old man who died of a common disease. He did not contribute one benefit to humanity during his whole drug-addicted life, not one. He was a drug-addicted alcoholic entertainer and some people worship entertainers as if they are special. They are not.
I hope David finds the peace in death that he could not find in life.
Ken Morehouse Wangaratta (Vic)
I felt low when I heard the news. I flicked from station to station, but the reality was there were no changes, one of my heroes has died. I felt great sorrow. Ashes to ashes, David, you truly were a great Starman.
John Loveridge Tewantin (Qld)
Punters face heat
Elizabeth Knight obviously blamed China's administration for the ongoing gyrations of the financial markets ("ASX at the mercy of a clumsy China", January 12). Surely the foolishness of other market participants could equally be responsible, such like punters both within and outside China, all hoping to make a quick buck. If they can't stand the heat, they should stay out of the financial markets.
Kin-Mun Kan Cheltenham
Rudd steadied ship
Another Global Financial Crisis? ("China syndrome the infection that led to Monday's meltdown," January 12). For all his failings as prime minister, Kevin Rudd was able to steady the ship the last time we found ourselves in such turbulent waters. "Cometh the hour, cometh the man", as the saying goes. I feel we are about to find out if Malcolm Turnbull is man enough and more than a silken tongue and a winning smile.
Garth Clarke North Sydney
Trees need action
There are a few benefits arising from the Baird government's destruction of the fig trees at Centennial Park ("RIP lovely Centennial Park trees", January 11). The consistent representations to politicians and expressions of concerns by community groups came to nothing. Those of us concerned with conserving the environment and our heritage – the true conservatives – must harden our hearts and become much more determined in our actions. Chaining ourselves to trees then leaving when police say we are trespassing does not work. We need large numbers of people to be willing to be arrested to really cause the government to retract in the face of mass civil disobedience. Another benefit is the clarity it brings to realising the insidious power of vested interests.
Bill Johnstone Marrickville
It is clear that developers rule the Liberal Party government of NSW, Jane Burns (Letters, January 11). The Powerhouse building is the largest exhibit at our state technology museum, and thus if the museum is to be relocated away from Sydney, the building must go with it.
Geoff Ford Wahroonga
Time to beat tattoo for health, wealth
In reply to both Jennifer Creighton and Gerard Kirwan (Letters, January 12), perhaps one less tattoo for young women would fund many years of Pap smears as well as leaving some clear skin for melanoma detection?
Anne Szczurowski Lambton
Jennifer Creighton suggests that people with tattoos could be more at risk from melanoma due to difficulty in detection. This, however, could just be an example of natural selection at work.
Bill Gillis Hallidays Point
Kilts only for men
Couldn't agree with you more, Ian Waters. ma laddie (Letters, January 12), man skirts must be stopped. Excepting kilts, of course, which are more than acceptable and are, well, like a breath of fresh air.
Stewart Smith North Kellyville
Last resort transport
Oh dear. Who could, or should, describe those who must use public transport as "avid" public transport users? ("Most users will pay more with their Opal card", January 11)
Liz Liddelow Avalon Beach
Lenity not justified
The article "Reducing offenders' sentences sends wrong message on crimes we shouldn't tolerate" (January 12) was reasoned, succinct and pointed to a culture in the judiciary that is very worrying. Namely, that if you are male and violent and your victim is female and passive then the law will treat you better than you possibly deserve.
David Neilson Invergowrie