I REFER to the article "Sneak peek inside $2b intercity train" (Herald, 2/9) regarding the new trains being ready for service.
As an ex-railwayman with 30 years' service, I am staggered at the NSW government's decision to curtail the guard's overall safety function on the new, foreign-built trains. The whole history of these trains is bad from the beginning. When challenged about them not being built in NSW, a certain premier replied that "the people of NSW expect value for money". Well, that didn't happen as we all know. When the new carriages were offloaded on the wharf it was quickly discovered that they were out of gauge for the lines they were required to travel on. There was then a need to shave all tunnels and platforms where these trains were destined to travel, thus increasing the overall cost. When challenged on this and again asked why the trains were not built in NSW, the premier replied "We're not very good at building trains in NSW," thereby exposing her complete lack of knowledge of the history of railways in this state. You may remember that she was the transport minister who thought that it would be a great idea to tear up the railway line to the second largest city in NSW?
During my railway career I progressed through the various grades in the traffic branch, including that of guard. I completed my service as the senior safety officer, Northern Region, based at Newcastle. I do not know the chief operating officer, Mr Merrick's background and I wonder what, if any, operating experience he has with railways. The guard is responsible for the safe working of the train and is also qualified to render first aid in an emergency, as well as generally looking after the wellbeing of the passengers and answering any inquiries they may have.
The driver has the responsibility of driving the train, adhering to the signals and watching the track ahead and must be prepared to act in any emergency that may occur on the line. I believe that the current plan to take away the guard's observation of the train and passengers when stopped at a platform and replace that with a camera is foolhardy and dangerous in the extreme. NSW Railways have been a forerunner in rail safety over many decades. This current plan, if enabled, will erode that record. If I was a driver, I would refuse to move a train without the guard's "right away" as it is unsafe to do so.
Mark Gattenhof, Wyoming
Winds of change are blowing
THE federal government's new bill to legalise the offshore wind industry in Commonwealth water will open Australia to global investment in offshore wind farms, with thousands of jobs expected to flow into industrial towns facing an uncertain future as manufacturing continues to decline. These projects will provide cheap, clean energy for existing manufacturing and attract private investment in new export industries such as hydrogen and local wind turbine manufacturing.
Offshore wind means onshore jobs as it's cheaper to build the massive turbines close by rather than transport them from other locations. The projects also require many of the skills that workers in fossil fuel industries already have and thus building them in places where workers have those skills should be a priority. This means a Newcastle offshore wind farm could be the kickstart we need for a green industrial rebirth in the Hunter Valley. A recent economic analysis by Beyond Zero Emissions said Newcastle, with its deepwater port, skilled workforce and existing industrial infrastructure could attract $28 billion in capital investment to the region, generate $11 billion in revenue by 2032 and create 34,000 jobs.
Offshore generation and transmission will deliver a more secure and reliable electricity system and create thousands of jobs and business opportunities in regional Australia. In light of the rapidly declining coal sector due to shrinking global demand for thermal coal, the Hunter Valley must be made a priority for offshore wind by the government.
Bryce Ham, Whitebridge
It pays to dig a little deeper
GEORGE Williams, ("Put money where your mouth is" Letters, 3/9), regarding the Premier's token pats on the back for nurses and ambos, it's much worse than you might think.
Not only did Gladys Berejiklian block a pay rise for these people this year, last year she also froze the pay of 400,000 frontline public sector workers who were helping fight the pandemic. To add insult to injury, around the same time, Ms Berejiklian increased Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope's $309,621 salary by $17,000.
Then to further rub salt into the wound, the Premier also approved Police Commissioner Mick Fuller's request for a $87,000 pay rise (bringing his pay up to $649,500), all whilst he was investigating her and Scott Morrison's alleged role in allowing over 130 people infected with COVID-19 to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship into Sydney without quarantining (Plus at the start of this year, Commissioner Fuller was granted a further payrise of $16,250 by Berejiklian).
I've been questioning the Premier's priorities for years now, but all of these matters truly make my jaw drop. I also think that Ms Berejiklian granting a pay rise to someone investigating her is a bit suspect to say the very least.
Adz Carter, Newcastle
'Lockouts' for the unvaccinated
ACCORDING to Doherty modelling, when Australia is fully vaccinated, we are unlikely to ever celebrate a "Freedom Day" where masks are thrown away and where lockdowns end.
The rest of our lives will be spent in partial lockdowns and being vigilant against possible infection. We will need to learn to live with COVID infections and deaths. Every year, we will receive booster shots. Mask-wearing will become mandatory indoors apart from in our homes. Lockdowns will become "lockouts" for the unvaccinated at all sorts of venues. The unvaccinated will be unable to travel.
As Australia approaches full vaccination, we should brace ourselves for more violent "freedom" demonstrations by anti-vaxxers and conspiracy groups.
Geoff Black, Caves Beach
How we can be heard on climate
THE Australian Security Leaders Climate Group have released a grim report highlighting how ill-prepared Australia is in assessing and addressing the risks posed by climate change, such as climate-fuelled water and food insecurity.
Our defence leaders are one of the many experts in various fields who are calling out on the Morrison government for leadership and urgent action to decarbonise our economy. Yet it is very frustrating to know that little has been done to protect us Australians from future climate catastrophe.
We, as individuals, may not be able to control the actions of our politicians and the policies they set. However, we do control the outcome of the ballot box at the next federal election. If Scott Morrison and the Coalition party do not bring in the strong climate policies needed to protect us Australians from future damage, then I suggest that we vote them out.
Ching Ang, Kensington Gardens
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
TALKING of public toilets, ("City caught short, Opinion, 6/9), why not have QR codes on all public toilets as people from all different areas use them and no one has any idea as to where they may have come from. My daughter said that she saw a QR code on a public toilet in Scone and thought what a good idea.
Irene Hemsworth, Maitland
PAUL Scott hit the nail on the head, ("City caught short, Opinion, 6/9). The lack of public loos in Newcastle and the state of the few that do exist is a disgrace. What if you get caught short after dark ... it does happen ... where do you go? Brisbane has introduced self cleaning timed toilets which alleviate the problem of vandalism. How about it Newcastle Council?
Narelle Heaney, Newcastle West
HISTORY repeated. The events of the past few days have brought back memories of when I was a lot younger. A four-year-old boy had got lost in the New England area for some days. When I saw yesterday's news I went straight to YouTube and listened to Johnny Ashcroft's song "Little Boy Lost". The parallels in the two events are amazing. Well done everyone. Great result. Great shame it is not the same for William Tyrrell.
Laurie Bowman, Charlestown
ECONOMICS don't mean much, when the land can earn more than the man who works it.
Dave Wilson, Bar Beach
WHY is HNE still in lockdown when COVID statistics show new cases were 1281 for a population of approximately 8 million in NSW which is one per 6245. HNE had five new cases for an approximately 800,000 population which is one case per 160,000 people. Why is the Hunter and regional NSW being punished for the mess in Sydney?
Paul Moore, Warners Bay
IT has suddenly become clear the concern from the NSW government about tracing. I just received a message that on 22/8 I was at a Woolies store and maybe a casual contact. 10 days too late. It's not the fault of the tracers. Simply too much volume. I have had no symptoms but will get tested and isolate.
David Reynolds, Charlestown
WATCHING the Premier's press conferences every day, it is clear that all COVID-19 infected people are being treated in our understaffed and under-resourced public hospital system. Why is not the private system putting up their hand to accept a large number of these patients into their system? The federal government looks after this system like a sacred cow. Why are they not told to help out?
Darryl Tuckwell, Eleebana
JOE Biden says the USA's relationship with Australia is like bedrock, not surprising considering his likeness to Barney Rubble and Morrison's to Fred Flintstone.