Fw: Thurs.20.8.20 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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20.8.20 Metro Twitter
Buses replace trains on sections of the Upfield line until the last train of Sun 15 Nov (level-crossing works at Coburg and Moreland).
Westall: No lift access between the concourse and pfm 2/3 until Mon 14 Sep ('upgrade' works).
4.15 Buses will be replacing trains Sunbury - Sunshine (an operational incident. Buses will take some time to arrive, consider alternative transport options).
- 4.45 trains resuming.
Public transport is still available for essential travel. Remember, you must wear a mask or face covering when travelling on public transport. See https://ptv.vic.gov.au/more/coronavirus-covid-19
- They should be not allowed to get on without them which I thought was..until today when I saw a lady get on a bus with no mask and driver didn't care either.
Buses replace trains Newport - Werribee from 19.25 until the last train (works).
Buses replace trains Dandenong - Pakenham from 20.30 until the last train (works).
Buses replace trains Darling - Glen Waverley from 20.50 until the last train (works take place).

Decarbonising needs a dose of hydrogen Christopher Niesche Aug 18, 2020

VLine CEO suspended amid corruption probe Henrietta Cook and Rachael Dexter August 20, 2020
The chief executive of Victoria's VLine regional train service has been immediately suspended amid an anti-corruption investigation.
VLine chairwoman Gabrielle Bell shared the news with staff in an email on Thursday morning, saying the board had suspended James Pinder while the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission carried out its investigation.
VLine CEO James Pinder, pictured at the scene of a train derailment in March, has been suspended.CREDIT:PAUL JEFFERS
"We know this news will be very unexpected and unsettling for everyone and assure you that we will do everything we can to support you and minimise the disruption that this event has on the organisation," she wrote.
Details of the IBAC investigation are still unknown and the developments have taken many V/Line employees by surprise.
In a statement, Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said he had directed the V/Line board to suspend Mr Pinder after being informed of an IBAC investigation on Wednesday evening.
No charges have been laid.
VLine CEO James Pinder has been suspended amid an IBAC investigation.CREDIT:LEANNE PICKETT
"Nick Foa, currently the head of transport services at the Department of Transport, will act as VLine CEO while a longer term arrangement is put in place," Mr Carroll said.
Regional train services would not be affected, Mr Carroll said.
VLine and IBAC both confirmed that an investigation was under way, but said it would be inappropriate to comment further.
It's not the first time IBAC has focused its attention on VLine. In 2017, as part of Operation Lansdowne, the watchdog investigated an alleged rort involving dodgy TAFE qualifications for workers at the state's regional rail operator.
In its final report, IBAC concluded that VLine’s procurement and recruitment processes had been "ignored or bypassed on numerous occasions" and "conflicts of interest were routinely ignored".
News of the latest investigation follows a blistering Victorian Auditor-General's report into the Murray Basin Rail Project, which criticised V/Line's "deficient project planning, cost estimation, and scoping".
Construction on the troubled $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project began in 2016 but is still only half complete.
The future of the project – an upgrade of freight rail lines between Geelong and Mildura – is in doubt after money ran out last year.
Opposition transport spokesman David Davis welcomed the investigation, saying V/Line had been “run into the ground” under Mr Pinder and Labor.
“They have botched the Murray Basin Rail Project and been unable to deliver proper timetabling and punctual services,” Mr Davis said.
“Victorians are entitled to ask about the government’s management of V-Line and consequently Mr Pinder.”
When asked about the investigation at a press conference, Premier Daniel Andrews remained tight-lipped.
“This is an IBAC investigation,” he said. “It is not appropriate for us to be briefed on those matters.”
Mr Pinder was appointed chief executive of VLine in late 2016. Before that he also worked for three years as rolling stock general manager at Metro Trains Melbourne.

Premier 'won't bend' on border despite Qantas, federal government calls Stuart Layt August 20, 2020

Santos boss pushes back amid gas price feud Nick Toscano August 20, 2020

Beach Energy oblivious to gas ban exemption until WA Premier's announcement Hamish Hastie August 20, 2020

AUGUST 20 2020 NT onshore gas won't deliver. Aaron Bunch

AUGUST 20 2020 Letters
Another light rail election? Re: "Light rail contracts won't be signed before ACT election, Barr confirms" (canberratimes.com.au, August 14) and "Another light rail election on track after Libs slam contract delays" (canberratimes.com.au, August 20). These reports  float the possibility light rail could well become a major issue in the October election. But will it? Steel and Barr have cited several reasons for the delay, including difficulties getting the paperwork in order in time, and the detrimental effect the proposed corridor would have on the habitat of a moth. Barr has stated he would not release cost estimates for Stage 2, again citing contracting confidentiality as his lame excuse. This does not hold up in the real world of major contract management given there is a sole-source supplier. Such chutzpa, such arrogance. One can be almost certain that the statements are part of the Labor/Greens re-election strategy. But why? Is it possible that Stage 1, at $1.6 billion in real terms, is making too great a dent in the budget, and that Stages 2A and 2B,  at twice or more the cost, is a bit too much to justify? Or is it simply a case of trying to wedge the Liberals in forcing it as an issue? The Liberals have said they are not against light rail in principle but, if elected, would need to review the cost-effectiveness of Stage 2A and 2B before any decision is taken. This is an essential, and financially prudent,  requirement, and a defensible promise. Light rail has never made economic or practical sense in a spread-out city like Canberra. It was nothing less than a sop to the Greens for their vote. One can only hope a re-elected Rattenbury/Steel/Barr government will come to its economic senses.
M R Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport [another fancy-name lobby group with an agenda?]
Will the 2020 ACT election be won and lost on light rail? Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong.
* A REAL PROBLEM Max Jensen is concerned over the inefficiency of a 20-second delay at traffic signals. (Letters, August 17). This inefficiency is minor compared to the up to two hours hapless Canberrans can spend waiting for most Canberra suburban buses on weekends.

AUGUST 20 2020 Sydney bus strike over masks called off. Tiffanie Turnbull
Sydney bus drivers have called off a strike after the NSW government agreed to a review of mask-use.
Sydney bus drivers have called off a planned strike after the NSW government agreed to their demands for a review of mandatory mask-use on public transport.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union met with government officials at the Industrial Relations Commission on Thursday, in hopes an agreement could be reached to avoid a strike next week.
The union had sent a letter to the Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday, demanding that community consultation take place over government plans to privatise some bus services.
The letter also asked that mask-use to be mandated where the number of people on board public transport outnumbered the green social distancing stickers, and for clarity on who was responsible for enforcing social distancing.
"The issue of mask wearing on public transport has been significantly elevated this week and the NSW Government has undertaken to review health advice and guidelines if community infection levels increase," union secretary David Babineau said in a statement on Thursday evening.
"Bus drivers and their union will remain vigilant and we hope for a more constructive response from government to any future concerns so we can avoid reaching this point again."
Transport Minister Andrew Constance thanked the union for cancelling the strike in a statement, and said the parties would meet again on Monday.
Earlier this week he ruled out mandating mask use on public transport, and argued the strike would force more people on to less buses and actually put the non-striking drivers at more risk.
"When it comes to masks, we get our advice from (NSW chief medical officer) Kerry Chant - we don't have advice to mandate masks across our community and fine people, but we have advice urging the community to put them on," he said.
* Repatriation flight passenger tests positive to COVID-19
* Entries about to open for mini-'Nats
* Long-term ACT hotel residents left in limbo as quarantine passengers move in

Department of Transport probed as V/Line boss James Pinder suspended pending IBAC investigation
Kieran Rooney and Shannon Deery August 21, 2020 Herald Sun
Victoria’s anti-corruption agency has now launched a major probe into the Department of Transport — under an investigation which has already prompted the suspension of V/Line boss James Pinder.
VLine CEO James Pinder. Picture: Alison Wynd
Victoria’s anti-corruption agency has launched a major probe into the Department of Transport under an investigation which has prompted the suspension of V/Line boss James Pinder.
Mr Pinder was on Thursday stood down by the regional rail operator’s board after it was discovered he was being investigated by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.
But it’s understood the commission is not just examining conduct within V/Line staff and that it will canvass other sections of the Department of Transport.
The full details of the investigation are yet to be revealed but government procurement processes, and the awarding of contracts for work and construction are among issues ­expected to be examined.
“No Department of Transport staff have been suspended or stood down and, to our knowledge, no department staff are subject to this investigation,” a spokeswoman said.'
It comes just a day after IBAC warned fraud and corruption risks in the public sector had soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, and issued new guides to government employees.
VLine chief executive James Pinder has been suspended. Picture: Alison Wynd
It’s understood a significant amount of evidence has been compiled on Mr Pinder, with senior V/Line figures believed to be blindsided by the news.
Transport Minister Ben Carroll announced the suspension of the VLine boss on Thursday after being informed of the IBAC investigation by his department.
Nick Foa, currently head of transport services at the Department of Transport, will stand in while a longer-term arrangement is devised.
A VLine spokeswoman said Mr Pinder had been suspended pending the investigation outcome and that services would be not be affected.
Opposition transport spokesman David Davis said IBAC must be allowed to do its job.
“I hope it roots out every bit of corruption at the Department of Transport and its proliferating stable of incompetent agencies,” he said.
In March, Victoria’s Auditor-General delivered a scathing assessment of VLine while reviewing the Murray Basin Rail Project. The report found V/Line’s “inadequate contract and project management” had helped to create delays and cost blowouts.

Level crossing removal: LXRP works in Moreland leave residents sleepless
James Mottershead August 20, 2020 Moreland Leader
A group of Moreland residents has banded together after likening the noise made by 24/7 level crossing removal works to torture. They said medical professionals and essential workers are being deprived of sleep.
Photo of the works at the Bell to Moreland section of the Upfield Line. Photo: LXRP/Christian Pearson.
Coburg residents are sleepless in Moreland.
People living between Moreland Rd and Bell St are fed up with the 24/7 level crossing removal works taking place saying they can’t sleep because of the noise.
Hundreds of households have come together to lobby the Level Crossing Removal Authority to not conduct works between 10pm and 7am.
But the authority says it has offered households the option of relocation while works take place, and about 200 have accepted the offer.
Sleepless in Moreland spokeswoman Tanya Pittard said living through a pandemic while this the level crossing works were happening has only made things worse.
“Sleep is a basic human right. Doctors have long recognised the impact sleep or lack of it can have on mental health,” she said.
“At a time when we are being stretched to the limits balancing paid work from home, household work, remote learning and volunteer work, we all need a good night’s sleep to help maintain our resilience throughout the weeks of lockdown.”
The group said medical professionals, mental health providers, teachers, essential permitted workers and vulnerable residents of the John Fawkner hospital palliative care units were all being denied sleep, and will be for up to 105 continuous nights.
“We simply want to be able to sleep. It is a simple matter of requiring the project to abide by the LXRP own EPA construction noise regulations which stipulate giving us respite between 10pm and 7am,” Ms Pittard said.
The group said people should be the priority during COVID restrictions and the State Government was hypocritical investing in mental health while “wilfully allowing a project which is having a huge impact on the mental health of thousands to proceed”.
But project director of the Bell to Moreland level crossing removal project Matt Thorpe said they have always had the residents in mind.
“We have supported the community by offering over 300 families temporary relocation as we remove four dangerous and congested level crossings, including one of Melbourne’s worst bottlenecks at Bell Street,” he said.
The team removing four level crossings, elevating a 2.5km section of the Upfield line and building two stations at Moreland and Coburg is working 24 hours a day until mid-November, when trains will resume running on the Upfield line.
LXRA said it was compliant with all requirements when undertaking this critical 24/7 work and the alternative would be shorter periods of work over a much longer time frame, meaning greater disruption overall.
It said some of the noisiest work, known as piling, had recently finished and upcoming work would be much quieter.
It advised anyone with questions to phone its 24/7 call centre on 1800 105 105 and speak with the relocation team.
* You voted Labour in, this is what you get, the Lib's had a tunnel penciled in for this station, all the work would of been under ground but looks like you guys wanted a bridge, good luck on that.
* In recent years Metro has always used the excuse that 24/7 for a shorter period beats staging the work.  That is simply for management convenience, and gets covered with the spin term 'blitz', as if it is something wonderful.  In turn,  Metro provides bus replacements, and never once has provided an effective one.  No manager has ever ridden his bike over the length, as the buses won't carry bikes, and Metro won't provide a truck as part of the convoy. I watched separations done at Canterbury and Watsonia by engineers who could cope, but that was 30-40 years ago.
* Get some earplugs, or take them up on their offer to relocate Removing all these dangerous level crossings that cause sooooo many accidents and so much congestion is more important than a handful of people who are slightly inconvenienced for a couple of months.
* The government have the interests of the CFMEU at heart , NOT the residents.
* They've been offered alternative accommodation - just looking for a pay out.

Coronavirus Australia: Deputy CMO Nick Coatsworth reveals possible restrictions for refusing vaccine
Ally Foster and Matt Young, news.com.au August 20, 2020
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer has discussed the possible restrictions for people who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
video: Coronavirus vaccine: 95% of Aussies need to take free COVID-19 vaccine If the vaccine trial is successful, the majority of Australians will need to take the jab for immunisation to be effective.
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth has raised the possibility of restrictions for people who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available, if proven successful.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Dr Coatsworth said rules like ‘No jab no pay’, which would restrict government payments, could be brought in to ensure more Australians are immunised against the coronavirus.
He mentioned regulations around international and interstate travel, and even moving within the community, would need to be reviewed.
Australian pubs and restaurants could also refuse entry to people who refuse to get vaccinated.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison backtracked on his comments that a coronavirus vaccine will be as “mandatory as you can possibly make it” for all Australians if the Oxford University version proves successful in Phase III trials and is approved for use.
But Mr Morrison did say he was “open to all options” to get as many Australians as possible vaccinated.
News.com.au revealed Wednesday that the Morrison Government confirmed a landmark agreement with drug giant AstraZeneca to manufacture one of the world’s most promising coronavirus vaccines currently being developed by Oxford University researchers.
If it’s proved safe to use, Prime Minister Scott Morrison believes the agreement will ensure Australians will be among the first countries in the world to secure the jab, revealing this morning it could be available to Aussies as soon as early next year.
The UK government has already ordered 100 million doses.
Asked whether the vaccine would be mandatory, Mr Morrison told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell on Wednesday morning that it needed to get to about 95 per cent of the population.
“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it,” the PM said.
But later that afternoon, he told 2GB’s Jim Wilson that the vaccine wouldn’t be compulsory.
“There’s been a bit of an over-reaction to any suggestion of this, there will be no compulsory vaccine,” he said.
“What we want to achieve is as much vaccination as we possibly can.”
Dr Coatsworth said the first step was to assure Australians that the vaccine that is brought in is safe and effective.
“It’s that confidence that’s going to get the bulk of Australians getting vaccinated. I have absolutely no doubt about that,” Dr Coatsworth said.
“I suspect the majority of Australians will get vaccinated and there will be a strong public view that those who choose not to get vaccinated there needs to be some sort of incentive, perhaps through current objectives (like) no jab, no pay.
“I know that’s a very reasonable interpretation of the what the PM had to say today.”
Dr Coatsworth said other possible measures would need to be discussed and decided by the government. But he listed as possible measures:
• Not being able to go into restaurants
• Not being able to travel internationally
• Not being able to catch public transport
Dr Coatsworth also flagged the idea of “a yellow fever vaccination certificate” he described like what they had in the “olden days”.
“These are clearly policy decisions that need, will be discussed, but there’s no current mechanism to enforce that sort of thing at the moment,” he said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt echoed the Prime Minister’s comments over the non-enforcement of the vaccine on A Current Affair on Wednesday night and flagged the idea of a vaccination certificate again.
He said that while campaigns and encouragement to get Australians vaccinated was at play, a mandatory vaccine “has been clearly ruled out” but he “would not rule out” the idea of a vaccination being a forced requirement when entering Australia.
He said it would “seem strange” if Australia allowed people in who hadn’t already been vaccinated.
“The medical advice will dictate how we proceed,” he said.
Nick Coatsworth, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Picture: David Gray
Pictured is a nearly empty Bondi Icebergs pool in Sydney. There is currently a limit of swimmers for 45 minute slots due to COVID-19 restrictions. Picture: Richard Dobson
Dr Zac Turner, a medical practitioner and biomedical scientist with experience in humanitarian vaccine aid, told news.com.au he believed a person who refuses to be vaccinated should not be allowed to travel interstate or overseas, nor be allowed to travel on public transport without a face mask.
When it comes to the private sector, he said businesses could refuse these anti-vaxxers from visiting their retail outlets, gyms, movie cinemas, restaurants, bars or nightclubs.
“As a precedence, state governments have previously banned children from attending childcare if they are not vaccinated,” he said.
“Similar restrictions could be placed on Australians who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccination.
“No longer can we nurse the conspiracy theories of a few, and put us all at risk.”
Dr Coatsworth said the safety trials for the main candidate vaccines have had excellent results and pointed towards record rates of the flu vaccination this year in the wake of the pandemic as hope that similar will happen with the release of the virus vaccine.
Despite the talk of restrictions, Dr Coatsworth said he anticipates there will be strong public support for the measures to encourage people to get vaccinated.
“I suspect the majority of Australians will get vaccinated and there will be a strong public view that those who choose not to get vaccinated need to,” he said.
Acting CMO Paul Kelly said the vaccine would be made as a “voluntary call” for Australians at first and believed there would be a “strong” response with “socially distanced queues” to get back to “some sort of normal”.
A father and son exercise in Melbourne's Flagstaff Gardens during stage 4 lockdown as the state of Victoria continues to battle a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Picture: Ian Currie
People enjoying their 1 hour of exercise in St Kilda, Victoria. Photo: Daniel Pockett
Anti-vaxxers have reacted with fury at the announcement of the shots for all Australians.
Science Minister Karen Andrews says there is “enormous risk” people will believe conspiracy theories and refuse the vaccine.
“It’s just beyond the pale and disinformation or misinformation is dangerous and can lead to loss of life,” Ms Andrews told the Herald Sun.
RELATED: PM backtracks on ‘mandatory’ comments
RELATED: How hopeful should Australians be about vaccine?
RELATED: Anti-vaxxer fury over Australian government deal

Myki smash and go REBEKAH CAVANAGH
Thurs.20.8.20 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'
$14k in takings but damages bill $223k A MASKED bandit armed with blow torches, grinders and crowbars raided dozens of myki machines across Melbourne in a 3½ month crime spree during which he raked in more than $14,000.
But the damage bill to the taxpayer for Jarrad Michael Morton’s ice-fuelled crimes was a staggering $223,000.
Morton, 26, was jailed this week after pleading guilty to 66 charges including 25 counts of theft, 30 of intentionally damaging property and eight of going equipped to steal.
The County Court of Victoria heard he was part of a gang of thieves who smashed the machines at train stations in the early hours of the morning to avoid detection.
The myki machine marauders would disguise themselves with balaclavas, hoodies and white and black masks.
The stolen money was then spent on drugs.
Morton, a father of three, targeted more than 30 machines at stations in a 60km radius from his Langwarrin home, stealing $14,110 between May 10 and August 28 last year. Among his biggest hauls was $2280 from Merinda Park and $1600 from Lynbrook station on the Cranbourne line.
The court heard Morton was arrested and charged midway through his spree on June 12 — only to be released on bail, where he waited a month before continuing to offend.
Text messages found on his phone reveal drug deals and talk among co-accused of the raids. “I’m gonna head out n get rest of coin,” Morton texted a co-accused just after 1am on August 5. Another message had a photo of a jewellery box with the words, “we’ve gotta fill this up with money”.
His phone also contained 1493 aerial images of railway stations and their surrounds.
The court heard Morton was shocked at the value of the damage he had caused.
On one occasion, he caused $7561 damage to the ticketing machine at Leawarra railway station, all for $5. Another time he got away with $10 from the machine at Tynong station, but left a $5188 damage bill.
Sentencing him to 11 months and 3 weeks in jail, Judge Liz Gaynor said his crimes left a hefty bill for Victoria’s Transport Department, and no doubt affected commuters who were unable to use the damaged machines.
She said Morton’s life had spiralled out of control due to his daily ice use, spurred on by the suicide death of a friend and sudden death of his fatherin-law.
Judge Gaynor also considered his early guilty plea, limited criminal history and continued family support as mitigating factors.

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