It never ceases to amaze me how professional and enthusiastic Countrylink Rail staff approach their work in the face of the woeful support they get from the political class from either side of politics.
In a recent conversation with a rail staff person they expressed delight that the number of speed restrictions on the rail line between Junee and Sydney had reduced from 50 to 20 over the last six months. Repeat - fifty. Imagine if this was the situation with the Hume Highway and the ruckus that truck drivers would have kicked up - even with twenty!
Why do both the federal and state governments put up with the snail pace of repairs for which the ARTC are responsible? Admittedly there have been 10 years of rail maintenance neglect by the Coalition governments in both parliaments, but what is the ALP doing now that they have control in both legislatures?
The political class say that they are very concerned about climate change, house prices, and pressure on Sydney's infrastructure. But when it comes to improving rail transport to rural areas they drop the ball and revert to building more road tunnels, metros and sprawling suburbs in Sydney rather than looking to attract people to regional areas, reducing road freight and cutting carbon emissions, and relieving pressure on housing by fixing the rural rail services.
Forty-year-old trains and 150-year-old rail tracks have had their day. We need something better - a lot better.
Peter Fraser, Goulburn
Renewable energy 'blights landscape'
Every person in rural Australia should be extremely worried about being drastically affected by the extremely damaging consequences caused by a 'Renewable Energy Factories Blight disease' (REFB) that is being spread across the nation's rural areas.
REFs Blight is occurring, following the roll out of Renewable Energy Factories (REFs). They consist of solar farms, wind farms, battery energy storage systems and high-voltage (HV) transmission lines. No thought has been given to the short- and long-term consequences on rural Australia as a whole.
REFs Blight will have catastrophic effects causing:
1. Permanently removing, millions of hectares of agricultural land from production, leaving it as toxic junk, feral pest infested, fire hazard, grave yards.
2. Highly electrified sites packed with millions of solar panels, huge lithium batteries and 200m high wind turbines. Will increase the risk of uncontrollable wildfires, and threaten the safety of every person living in rural Australia.
3. Wind turbines will slaughter our unique wildlife in numbers, leading to their extinction.
4. Solar panels with toxic components, risk runoff permanently polluting land, streams, rivers and underground water supplies.
5. Solar farms and wind farms, blight the renowned scenic beauty and peacefulness of the country landscape.
6. Seriously harming the scenic beauty of tourism attractions.
7. REFs devalue land values and country lifestyles.
8. REFs' intermittent and unreliable renewable electricity production increases electricity prices for both country and city.
9. Australia's national security is at risk, with our electricity production being controlled by foreign companies.
John Moore, Wangaratta
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