Passenger numbers on the Canberra-Sydney train are up a lot ("City's train passengers increase", February 9, p6).
That's notwithstanding steam-era journey times, aging rolling stock and a lack of tangible government support or promotion.
Sadly, despite three years of encouraging noises from the Barr government, there are still no credible plans to cut the Canberra-Sydney journey time from over four hours to a "game-changing" three hours or less. Local rail infrastructure that would provide better connections to the inter-capital train remains either under-utilised or near derelict.
No new regional rail services, such as congestion-busting cross-border light rail, are contemplated. Transport NSW shows no sign of acquiring additional regional trains or carriages to cope with the burgeoning demand. New conventional trains are "on the way" but won't be in service for years.
The limited number on order won't translate into either more seats or more frequent services. The promised trains will be just as crowded and just as slow as the ones they are replacing.
Meanwhile, Victoria, with Federal support, is delivering 20-30 percent reductions in regional journey times. It has grown patronage without the huge expense associated with Very High Speed Trains. Unlike in Victoria, regional rail services in NSW and the ACT remain burdened with a mid-1960's mindset.
A great opportunity continues to go begging.
Bob Bennett, co-convenor,
Canberra-Sydney Rail Action Group, Wanniassa
What will it take?
Our summer of unprecedented bushfires should be a turning point. But, although many died and others lost homes, farms and businesses, this government refuses to vigorously reduce emissions and abandon fossil fuels.
What influences them? We get a hint by looking at the illegal robo-debt program, questionable drought relief, sports rorts, gifts of unsolicited school swimming pools, questionable university grants and a large donation to the PM's church.
If that list is an indication of how this government makes decisions Australia can burn to a crisp as far as the politicians are concerned.
They dance to a different tune to the rest of us.
Rosemary Walters, Palmerston
Anzacs made a difference
To the remaining nay-sayers who say that our climate is changing but Australia is too small to make any difference. One of the placards at the People's Climate Assembly outside Parliament House last week gave food for thought. It read: "The Anzacs didn't say 'We are too small to make a difference'."
Only 60,000 of the approximately 20 million World War I military dead were Australians. That's 0.3 per cent. From 2014 to 2018 Australia celebrated our role in that war more elaborately and expensively than any other nation on earth.
We take enormous national pride in fighting wars half a world away. We are frequently told we "punch above our weight". Yet on the challenge of climate change, which is already devastating our country, Australia is barely punching at all. Our performance is weasley, pathetic and cowardly.
It's long past the time for Australia to act responsibly as a part of the global community and not leave the heavy lifting to others. Our disproportionate contribution to climate change, as the world's highest per person carbon emitter, makes that responsibility all the greater.
Sue Wareham, Cook
Don't be divisive
Re: "Tinder dry and ready to burn" (February 8, pps 6-7). Great article until: "Community meetings were convened and were quite different in nature. The urban people were edgy the county folk ready".
Huh? What a divisive little comment snuck into this article. Canberra is an amazing city, please don't divide us into urban and country folk. Intentionally or not, it was a bit of an insulting comment about urban Canberrans.
Please don't insult Canberra born people or insult people like me who were brought up in rural Australia and have been a proud Canberran for over 20 years.Ally Cerritelli, Weetangera
Please don't insult Canberra born people or insult people like me who were brought up in rural Australia and have been a proud Canberran for over 20 years.
The fire situation was an extremely anxious period for all Canberrans. Canberra gets bagged enough.
The fire situation was handled brilliantly by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the ESA with Fire Commissioner Georgeina Whelan at the helm. Let's focus on how well all Canberrans listened and responded.
Ally Cerritelli, Weetangera
Lead by example
Monica McCormack (Letters, February 10) waxes lyrical about the attendance of her PCA members at the protest outside Parliament last week.
The protesters came from Qld, Victoria, SA and NSW. How did they get here? Did they walk or cycle, or did they, like all the other climate change hypocrites, fly and drive?
Mark Sproat, Lyons
What about the rest?
The article "Schmidt's 2020 vision for ANU" (February 8, p 13) reports the ANU "will set up a $50 million scholarship fund to ensure no Indigenous Australian is unable to study at the institution because they cannot afford to". Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt has said: "we must resemble the country we seek to serve".
The last census reported that three million Australians live below the poverty line. Presumably for every poverty-stricken Indigenous person who will qualify for university assistance there are nine impoverished non-Indigenous people who won't.
Perhaps Professor Schmidt might like to clarify the "resemble the country we seek to serve" bit.
Bill Deane, Chapman
Who was wrong?
Given the Auditor-General got his assessment of the allegations surrounding allocations of public monies by Bridget McKenzie, so very, very wrong (in the opinion of Scott Morrison), presumably he should be sacked by the Prime Minister for gross incompetence. We now await developments in that area.
As for the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, I make the observation that entire careers can end up being defined by one thing. In my opinion, despite all their other achievements, Nixon was defined by Watergate; Clinton by the Lewinsky affair; and Keelty by his retreating from his remarks on terrorism following political pressure.
It may well be that Mr Gaetjens will, in the eyes of the public, be forever defined by his findings in relation to the actions of Bridget McKenzie.
Gordon Fyfe, Kambah
The Barnaby bullet
With regard to the Joycean challenge for the Nationals' leadership, I was less exercised about his personal peccadilloes than his closeness to some of the richest Australian entrepreneurs including Gina Rinehart.
His disregard for smaller water users in favour of the mega water licensees is no secret. He's no champion of small farmers. We have dodged the Barnaby bullet for now.
Would it be indelicate to suggest it is now time for him to spend more time with his family?
Ann Darbyshire, Hughes
Scott Morrison has flatly refused to follow the lead of UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, and commit Australia to "net-zero carbon emissions" by 2050.
The PM said he would "never make a commitment like that if I couldn't tell the Australian people what it would cost them".
In view of the bushfire disaster this seems akin to refusing to take out property and life insurance policies that include cover for the ravages of fire and flood, but exclude sleight of hand tricks concealed in the fine print.
Most people would ask themselves not "what will this insurance cost me?", but "what will it cost me if a bushfire strikes and I have no insurance?" The answer is obvious.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
The coronavirus has undoubtedly affected Australia's economy through tourism, education and some exports. It will be interesting to discover its influence on the GDP and the loss of income in various sectors.
I feel that due to globalisation, the loss of manufacturing, and importing everything from matches to cars, Australia is more vulnerable to recession than previously.
No economy can survive and advance by only providing services, not products.
We are under threat.
R Buick MM, Mountain Creek, Qld
What's in a name?
So Canberra now has a "National Opera" that can't perform outside the ACT.
How national is that? Doesn't make sense to me.
We should be proud to be Canberra. CBR rocks.
N Ellis, Belconnen
TO THE POINT
GOOD ONYA PAULINE
Pauline finds another cheap and shallow way to seek deliverance from irrelevancy and Nationals' attention-seeking ("Schools 'biased on history, climate, sex'", February 11, p8).
Sue Dyer, Downer
When I heard Parasite won the major Oscar I nearly fell off my chair thinking Trump is now in the movie business. Imagine my relief on discovering it to be a Korean movie. Still, the way POTUS interferes offshore these days you just don't know.
Linus Cole, Palmerston
DAM THE FLOOD
When I drove to Yarralumla on Tuesday morning via the Monaro Highway and Canberra Avenue almost half the kerbside drains were taking stormwater. Clearly there is a need for the contractor to have applied sandbags to prevent this pollution of our waterways with unsullied rainwater. Do something City Services.
Peter Haddon. Jerrabomberra
Re the Religious Discrimination Bill. Surely it is a conflict of interest for religious politicians to vote on this bill.
Reuben Smith, Banks
MISSING IN ACTION
How long can members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor party be on the missing persons' list before there's consideration of foul play?
M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
Vacant embassy sites are just as significant as those that have been built on ("Embassy sites mired in lengthy delays", February 9, p3). We've extended the invitation and made the land available. Vacancy is a sign of real international circumstances. It's got nothing to do with "prime" real estate.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Juvenal used the phrase "bread and circuses" to describe how the Roman elite bought public approval with diversions and distractions, not good government. The ACT's ruling elite are diverting people's minds away from the parlous state of services by proposing a new stadium. Will Emperor Barr provide bread for those made homeless by his housing policies?
Lee Welling, Nicholls
SHOULD HAVE KNOWN
Could someone show me a December or January BoM prediction of the staggering rainfall in NSW, Qld and elsewhere? I seem to recall the forecast was no rain until April or May. Utterly useless.
N R Watson, Phillip
Apology aside ("EU diplomat regrets 'Greta' quip", February 10, p13), Josep Borrell's comment that people were happy to take to the streets if it cost them nothing, while questioning whether demonstrators were prepared to reduce their quality of life to pay for the high cost of combating climate change deserves consideration.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
When will they ever learn? Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has said "If Angus Taylor continues to refuse to come clean, then the Prime Minister must order a proper, independent and transparent investigation into his Minister".
Ken Brazel, Wright
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