Fw: Sat.21.8.21 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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Sat.21.8.21 Metro Twitter
Aircraft: No ramp access to platforms until late 2021 (pedestrian-underpass works).
Flinders St: still with a lane closed for tunnel works.
Mooroolbark: Station closed until late-2021 (level-crossing removal). A shuttle bus will operate Croydon - Mooroolbark - Lilydale, connecting with trains. There will be no access to station platforms or facilities during this time.
Edithvale/Chelsea/Bonbeach: Stations closed until late 2021 (level-crossing removal). A shuttle bus will operate Mordialloc - Carrum, connecting with trains. There will be no access to station platforms or facilities during this time.
The level crossings at Argyle Avenue, Bondi Road and Edithvale Road are closed until early-October.  Chelsea Road is closed permanently. See http://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/projects/chelsea-road-chelsea
Until Wednesday 25 August the Royal Parade southbound service lane will be closed north of the Grattan Street intersection, adjacent to the Metro Tunnel Project site.   For more information on transport changes in this area, visit: https://metrotunnel.vic.gov.au/construction/parkville/changes-to-grattan-street
Buses replace  trains  between Newport and Williamstown from 20.30 until the last train of Friday 12 November (level-crossing removal).
All night public transport on Fridays & Saturdays will not run for the next two weeks to support the 9pm - 5am curfew in metropolitan Melbourne.The only reasons to leave home during curfew are for authorised work & urgent medical care/caregiving.  Public transport services will not run between 1am and 5am on Saturdays and between 1am and 6am on Sundays.
Craigieburn line: All trains run direct to/from Flinders St via Sthn Cross, not via City Loop from 9pm to last train tonight, while maintenance works take place. From City Loop stns, take west-bound Bourke St yarratrams services to Sthn Cross to connect with trains.
Sunbury/Upfield lines: All trains will terminate/originate at Southern Cross from 5.45 to 0.15 Sun 22 Aug (maintenance works). From loop stations, take a Flinders St train to Southern Cross [Flinders St not mentioned].
Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: All trains will terminate/originate at Caulfield from 21.00 until 20.00 Sun 21 Aug (works).  Change at Caulfield to/from Frankston trains.

Pipeline of projects delivers long-term pain for taxpayers. Annika Smethurst August 20, 2021
A year out from a 2014 election, then-opposition leader Daniel Andrews made an ambitious promise to remove 50 level crossings in his first two terms of government.
Until that point, Labor’s hope of making the Coalition the first single-term government in Victoria since 1955 seemed overly ambitious.
Daniel Andrews speaking to the media last month to announce the removal of the Edithvale level crossing.
That’s not to say things were looking good for Denis Napthine. A leadership change, a rogue crossbench MP and increasing unhappiness with the Abbott government in Canberra were always going to make it difficult on polling day, but the level-crossing plan was a game changer.
Labor clearly identified that voters love an infrastructure promise, and this wasn't just one, but 50. The policy gave every marginal seat MP and candidate the opportunity to promise action at a local level, while the Napthine government put all its political eggs in the East West Link basket.
In the days after that announcement, there was an almost visible shift in the mood at Spring Street. Coalition MPs were on the defence, Labor MPs had a spring in their step and the press gallery knew they were in for a tight election.
I still recall a comment by one veteran journalist as we left the level-crossing press conference: “This has changed everything; it puts Labor in the box seat.”
He was right, of course. In the lead-up to election day, polls showed that more than 60 per cent of voters backed Labor’s plan to remove the 50 worst level crossings, compared to just 28 per cent who believed the government should prioritise the East West Link road tunnel being spruiked by the Coalition.
Andrews won. Napthine lost.
Just as the Coalition clings to its East West Link promise seven year later, Labor has well and truly hitched its political wagon to its pipeline of infrastructure projects. And so far, it’s been a successful strategy.
With an election due next year, it is no coincidence Andrews is appearing at fewer daily COVID-19 press conferences, preferring to be photographed wearing a hard hat and fluoro vest.
Election strategists will tell you that promising roads and train lines gives political parties the best chance on polling day. But as voters, we should be wary when politicians commit to infrastructure projects before receiving regulatory or financial approvals because it is almost certain to result in extra costs for taxpayers and lengthy blowouts.
A 2014 image of the proposed East West link as it passes through Royal Park.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given governments excellent cover from accountability on major projects. As the state’s economy slowed last year, ramping up government spending to generate growth and jobs became a priority.
Few economists would argue with such an approach, which was championed by famed British economist John Maynard Keynes who emphasised government infrastructure projects as just the thing to help struggling economies.
But that should not give the state government an excuse to spend without scrutiny. Victoria currently has $144 billion of new and existing infrastructure projects funded and under way, up 35 per cent from 2019 to 2020.
The cost of the West Gate Tunnel has soared to more than $10 billion with no opening date in sight, the Metro Tunnel has blown out by $2.74 billion and upgrades to the Monash Freeway and M80 face mounting costs.
The vast majority of these are mega-projects, sexy vote-winning promises which look good on the front of a newspaper but were always going to run overtime and over budget.
Politicians are in the job of winning elections and will almost always announce an undercooked splurge on infrastructure without thinking about the long-term cost burdens.
They believe the public will accept that blowouts are inevitable and that the chance to appear in a hard hat will counter any political pain down the track, if they are still in office.
While our collective attention is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, we are giving our governments fertile ground to splurge our funds.
On Thursday, as the number of COVID-19 cases shot up, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office released a report warning the Andrews government that its love affair with major projects was putting enormous pressure on the market’s capacity and threatened a skills shortage, making it less likely that projects would be delivered on time and on budget.
It also warned that such a clogged pipeline of work could see supplies of hard rock, gravel, sand and other materials vital for such mega projects being exhausted over the next few decades.
We are regularly reminded by Daniel Andrews that now is not the time for politics, that we must support our leaders and fight the virus together.
But ignoring costly blowouts and the potential headaches this clogged pipeline is causing will only result in very painful and unpopular decisions in the future.
RELATED ARTICLE Premier Daniel Andrews and Transport Minister Jacinta Allan announce the suburban rail line project. Coalition pushes for more scrutiny of Victoria’s major transport projects

AUGUST 21 2021 ACT bus and light rail trips fall in Canberra lockdown. Andrew Brown
Public transport use has fallen by 80 per cent in Canberra compared to last year in the wake of the second Covid lockdown. Picture: Karleen Minney
Public transport use in the ACT has plummeted in the wake of Canberra's Covid outbreak, as new figures reveal Canberrans are heeding advice to stay at home during the lockdown.
Figures from Transport Canberra revealed public transport use in the week after the lockdown was announced has gone down 80 per cent compared with the same week in 2020, and down 89 per cent on 2019 levels.
Between August 13 - the first full day of the lockdown - and August 19, there were 50,392 trips made on public transport, with a little more than 42,000 of those being bus trips while the remaining 8000 were light rail trips.
That's compared with 261,556 total trips in the corresponding week in 2020 and 467,883 trips made in 2019.
Transport Minister Chris Steel said Canberrans were doing the right thing during the lockdown.
"We continue to ask that people use public transport for essential purposes only and to please not travel if they're feeling unwell," Mr Steel said.
"It's really important that Canberrans continue to use the Check In CBR app on board all services. If people don't have access to the app, we ask that they travel with a registered MyWay card or keep good travel records."
Public transport trips between August 13 and 19:
2019: 467,883
2020: 261,556
2021: 50,932
It comes as data from Google has shown movement in the ACT has declined rapidly in the wake of the lockdown restrictions.
Mobility data, based on location information, revealed a 59 per cent drop in Canberrans going to retail locations, as well as restaurants, cafes and recreational venues, compared with regular levels.
The Google data goes up until Sunday, August 15, the third full day of the ACT's second lockdown.
Mobility at workplaces in the ACT has gone down by almost 40 per cent, while mobility around the city's public transport fell 75 per cent in that time.
In a sign that Canberrans are following the health orders and staying at home during the lockdown, mobility around residential locations has increased by 17 per cent.
Canberrans heading out into park areas, which also include national parks, dog parks and public gardens has also fallen by 25 per cent, despite a slight uptick just after the lockdown was announced.
People going to supermarkets, food stores and pharmacies have also had a dramatic drop of 21 per cent from baseline levels.
However, the mobility data also showed how much Canberrans were racing to the shops to panic buy last week when the lockdown measures were first announced.
Movement around supermarkets increased by more than 40 per cent during the panic buying frenzy, before the mobility fell sharply below the normal levels.
Mobility data has been used by Google since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020.
The baseline data used for the mobility was based off the median values in the five-week period between January 3 and February 6 in 2020.
Live updates: Canberra enters second week of Covid lockdown
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Australia to open Pfizer jabs to 16 to 39 year olds

Regional Victoria on edge as Melburnians continue to flout lockdown rules. Zizi Averill, Brooke Grebert-Craig, Brayden May, Simon Cameron and Andrew Kilmartin. August 21, 2021 Warrnambool News
...VLine trains from Melbourne to regional Victoria need stronger scrutiny to keep Melburnians from flouting lockdown rules.
Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell said V/Line services to Warrnambool were an open loophole for people travelling to regional Victoria from Melbourne.
Ms Britnell said she first raised the issue with the Victorian Government also 12 months ago during the state’s second wave lockdowns.
“I’m really concerned that these long-haul public transport services are a free ride for people to get out of the lockdown city and to regional Victoria,” she said.
“Our community has worked really hard over the past year to remain Covid free, we have been through lockdowns and lived with restrictions, the last thing any of us want is someone who shouldn’t be here being able to arrive freely, without any checks.”
City of Ballarat councillor Ben Taylor, a former mayor, echoed Ms Britnell’s call.
“Last year, there was more emphasis on putting a halt to movement in and out of Melbourne, which included police checking id’s at either end. Why is this not being done again?” Cr Taylor said on Friday.
“More checks need to be done at train and bus stations; it’s too easy for someone from Melbourne to sneak into Ballarat and jeopardise our safety.
Ballarat councillor Ben Taylor says more checks are needed on trains out of Melbourne. Picture supplied.
“People are doing the right thing in checking into hospitality venues in town. Why isn’t this being done at train stations?
“We can’t afford another lockdown in Ballarat, and we want people to follow the rules and do the right thing.”
Ms Britnell said V/Line services needed QR code check-in’s for contact tracing.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said transit police were patrolling the public transport network to enforce the Chief Health Officer’s directions.
“This includes monitoring major transport hubs and arterials, to ensure everyone travelling into regional Victoria is doing so for lawful reasons,” she said.
“Anyone who is deliberately, obviously or blatantly flouting these travel restrictions faces a fine of $5452.”
The spokeswoman said police and public safety officers (PSO) were providing a visible presence in key metropolitan Melbourne areas.
“PSOs will continue to be present at all premium railway stations between 6pm and the last train,” she said.
Nationals MP Danny O‘Brien, the Member for Gippsland South, said it was “bloody frustrating” that Melburnians were sneaking into regional areas.
“It’s also putting a lot of pressure on staff at Gippsland venues having to turn people away as some of them are less than co-operative,” he said.
“It’s just not fair that people doing the wrong thing then take their anger out on staff who are just following the rules.”
Mr O‘Brien said public transport users should be checked thoroughly.
“If regional cafes and hotels have to check the ID of their guests to ensure they’re not from Melbourne, why don’t state government agencies like V/Line do the same for people heading into the regions?”
Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said if the virus continued to spread an urgent reassessment of a ring of steel would need to take place.
“We don't want people panicking but we want to get this under control,” she said.
“Perhaps we need to do something about how people are transitioning between metropolitan and regional areas if the virus is spreading further.
“Three weeks ago Daniel Andrews was lecturing NSW about putting in a ring of steel in Sydney and now it has escaped the city in our own state.”

Sat.21.8.21 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'  Shepparton covid19 TESS IKONOMOU & BRAYDEN MAY
...It came as regional community leaders said Melburnians should be ashamed for sneaking into regional Victoria via a public transport “loophole”.
Community and business leaders said more needed to be done to deter Melburnians, including reintroducing the ring of steel to separate the city from the regions.
Bendigo Tourism chairman Finn Vedelsby said he had received reports from a fellow hospitality owner who was forced to turn away more than 50 Melburnians over four days.
“I heard horror stories of people turning Melburnians away in droves,” he said.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said transit police were patrolling the public transport network.
“This includes monitoring major transport hubs and arterials, to ensure everyone travelling into regional Victoria is doing so for lawful reasons,” she said.
“Anyone who is deliberately, obviously or blatantly flouting these travel restrictions faces a fine of $5452.”

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