Fw: Mon.23.8.21 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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Mon.23.8.21 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 until the last train of Friday 12 November (level-crossing removal).
11.11 Alamein line: Major delays (a truck hitting a rail bridge near Hartwell). Trains will be held at available platforms and altered/cancelled.
- 11.23 Trains are on the move.
- 11.27 clearing.
Buses replace trains North Melbourne - Werribee from 20.30 until the last train (maintenance works).
Buses replace trains North Melbourne - Williamstown from 20.30 until the last train (maintenance and level-crossing works).
Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: Buses replace trains Caulfield - Westall from 20.40 until the last train (tunnel works).
20.47  Buses will be replacing trains Dandenong - Cranbourne (a person hit by a train). Buses have been ordered, but may take over 60 min to arrive.  Consider alternatives.
- 21.15 Buses may take over 30 min to arrive.
- 21.30 & 23.59 Buses are replacing trains, adding 25 min travel time.
Buses replace trains Moorabbin - Frankston from 21.00 until the last train (maintenance works).
Buses replace trains Clifton Hill - Mernda from 21.00 until the last train (works).

Police consider shutting down transport system for future protests. Chris Vedelago and Erin Pearson August 22, 2021
Victoria Police will consider the unprecedented step of shutting down public transport to counter future anti-lockdown protests, and said they would once again use new paramilitary anti-riot teams if needed to confront increasingly violent demonstrations.
Chief Commissioner of Police Shane Patton described Saturday’s clashes in the city as probably the “most violent protest we’ve seen in nearly 20 years”, and said police’s first-time use of military-style rifles that can fire pepper spray pellets was “absolutely justified” as a response to the growing size of protests and displays of violence.
Police fire pepper spray pellets at protesters near Victoria Market on Saturday.CREDIT:JUSTIN MCMANUS
More than 4000 protesters defied public health orders to march, the largest demonstration since government-ordered lockdowns to combat the spread of COVID-19 began in March 2020.
In Sydney, police smothered planned protests by having 1400 officers set up checkpoints around the city, stopping 38,000 vehicles in what NSW Police Minister David Elliot described as a “temporary stop to the freedom of movement”. They also laid scores of charges and fined more than 260 people.
In Melbourne, the protests were marked by wild, running clashes with police that left nine officers injured. It remains unclear how many demonstrators were hurt. More than 200 arrests were made.
Victoria Police deployed a series of new anti-riot measures — including the pepper pellets and hard squash-like balls — in response to what they said were elements in the crowd throwing bottles, marbles and flares.
The protest in Melbourne on Saturday was attended by thousands, and turned ugly. CREDIT:JUSTIN MCMANUS
Watchdog group, the Police Accountability Project, warned the projectiles from these kinds of rifles could cause serious injuries to people’s necks, heads and torso, as well as exposing them to potentially dangerous levels of chemical contamination.
But Mr Patton said use of force was taken in self-defence and to “de-escalate” the conflict. “They did what they are supposed to do.
“These people came along with an intention — and that was pretty clear from what they were armed with when they came here — to be confrontational and engage in criminal activity. That’s not protesting about freedom, that’s criminal activity,” Mr Patton said.
He also pledged that other options were on the table to confront future protests, one of which is already known to be planned for September.
Saturday’s protest.CREDIT:CHRIS HOPKINS
“We have now seen two or three of these protests in a short period of time with violence escalating each time,” he said. “To shut down the transport network to prevent people coming in ... that’s a huge call, but it’s one that we’re now going to seriously entertain on the next occasion because I’m not going to tolerate this occurring again.”
Anthony Kelly, trainer with Melbourne Activist Legal Support, said that while the organisation had not sent legal observers to the protests because of the threat from COVID-19 and the involvement of far-right and white nationalists in the anti-lockdown movement, it was concerned about the “high risk of injury” from the use of this kind of weaponry.
“Because of the risk of severe, permanent or life-threatening injuries their use should be limited to only the most extreme circumstances. The trouble with any of these weapons is if they are not used in a careful or proportionate way.”
In 2018, Victoria Police was granted more than $35 million from the Andrews government to underwrite a major escalation in the force’s anti-riot capabilities. Then chief commissioner Graham Ashton said the deployment of the new equipment would be “confronting”.
The Saturday protests are believed to be the first time Victoria Police has used the new weaponry against civilians. A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the force “hoped we would never have to use this equipment” but that it was important for the safety of officers to have the option if required.
“The crowd control equipment enables police to safely engage with people who choose to act in a violent manner from a greater distance without needing to engage in a hand-to-hand physical confrontation,” she said.
But solicitor Jeremy King, who specialises in police misconduct, said that regardless of what happened at Saturday’s demonstration there were legitimate reasons to be concerned about Victoria Police’s history of escalating the use of force at all types of protests.
“Victoria Police have a track record of being heavy-handed and over-weaponised with respect to dealing with protesters.
“These circumstances are quite different given that we are in a pandemic, but I would be very concerned long term about the ever-increasing militarisation of Victoria Police and its use of these tactics and weapons in peaceful protests post-pandemic.”
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* A softly approach will not work with these people. Should never have let them congregate.
* The man and women of Victoria Police are put at risk of violence and exposure to covid themselves due to these unlawful protests. No one wants to go to work knowing they are going to get hurt and yet these people are brave enough to go do their jobs. What I would suggest is barricade the govt buildings and let them protest, however, have photos, cameras, systems to identify them and send them a fine in the post. Or if they vandalise anything or perform criminal acts, they can later on get a knock on the door from their local police. At least it keeps the police safe.
* Good idea but it wouldn’t stop the group of pumped up men on the way to the city I walked past on Saturday. You could tell they were spoiling for a fight but they walked into town for the protest.
* Whatever it takes to stop these morons from spreading the virus more rapidly and putting people doing the right thing at risk.
* The decision to purchase this type of hardware, never mind using on your own citizens, does not happen overnight, and anyone with half brain could reasonably guess where a recommendation like that could have come from. Perhaps a second look at the recently shelved - but much needed social reforms agenda could have gone some way to engender support from liberty-taxed population under extreme distress -but maybe it's too late for that now.
* Suggestion for police. Let the protesters into the CBD, then erect barricades around a 4 block perimeter. Let them protest and when they want to leave they have to get past the police one by one at the barricades. Imagine them lining up for hours to try to leave and then are fined on the way out. Will not miss anyone.
* Yet another thought bubble from the media, which the State Government may foolishly take on board. The concept of closing the transport to thwart demonstrations is authoritarian to say the least. Let's hope there is someone in the State Government (obviously not the Premier) who is level headed and sane enough to reject this ridiculous proposal.
* Absolutely agree with this. As for those saying they are disgusted police used tear gas. What in the hell were they supposed to do, have more of them pushed to the ground and bashed. Thousands of the idiots lined up one gave the order to rush police and they all ran forward. When idiots like this put the whole of Melbourne at risk the police should use any means they have to protect themselves.
* Escalating the use of force by Police does increase the risk of injury or death to protestors. However, protestors increase the risk of illness or death to the wider population. One deceased protestor, or three dads, a mother, a grandparent, an infant. Compare the pair.
* Well thank goodness it's not their decision.
* If the police were using these measures against people protesting about ordinary social policies, then the concerns could be justified. But these protests are not like teachers striking for higher pay, people wanting more freedom of information legislation, complaining about over-development or environmental issues, or stuff like that. These protesters are trying to overturn public health orders, made for the protection of the public. These protests are dangerous in three ways:
- they want to weaken the public health orders that are actually keeping us safe in the face of an agnostic, impersonal, apolitical and deadly virus;
- by congregating in large numbers the protesters are helping to spread the virus and give rise to new outbreaks;
- a significant element of protesters are right-wing extremists who want to forment disturbance for its own sake, the "bugaloo".
In that light the steps take by police are appropriate and proportionate. In future the Victorian Police should borrow a method used by NSW Police and set up road blocks coming in to the city, to prevent the protesters gathering in the first place.
* Whilst I am mad that those protesters couldn't come together to passionately protest our treatment of refugees, or government inaction on climate change, and also might have shoved us all deeper into this lockdown, I think that giving the police more powers to respond to a protest is a big mistake. They have full military kit to use on us, the citizens. They have expanded powers around moving and "kettling" people. That's not just for the angry men who showed up yesterday, but for everyone. We should really be stopping increases of military and police powers.
* 100% support Vicpol..
* This report covers too much of what danger police pose to demonstrators and not enough of what dangers violent protesters pose to police and other innocent bystanders. Too often the press covers protesters as if they have license for any type of behaviour.
* "Watchdog group, the Police Accountability Project, warned the projectiles from these kinds of rifles could cause serious injuries to people’s necks, heads and torso, as well as exposing them to potentially dangerous levels of chemical contamination." What about the Police injuries?
* A lot of people seem to have problem with the fact that the Vic government is persisting with a strategy that is clearly ineffective. Health systems and ICUs not being overwhelmed should be the guideline for the government, not an arbitrary decision that we should have zero cases irrespective of economic damage and resulting stress related illnesses. However public protests like we have seen are just making the situation worse, and show that Covid started as a virus that has now turned into an IQ test.
* How about the Justice System supporting the police and enforcing the 91% of unpaid fines for previous COVID breaches by largely the same small group of libertarian anarchists?

Scrutiny of rail loop costs raises questions on value. Timna Jacks August 23, 2021
The Andrews government’s flagship Suburban Rail Loop is not good value for money, experts warn, as questions are raised over the way the government calculated the multibillion-dollar project’s benefit-to-cost ratio.
Last week, the Andrews government released a business case on the line – a 90-kilometre mostly underground railway between Cheltenham and Werribee via Box Hill, Melbourne Airport and Sunshine.
An artists impression of the driverless trains that will run on the Suburban Rail Loop. 
A transport economist now warns the rail loop’s benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) is low and taxpayers should expect higher returns from what is the largest infrastructure project ever conceived by a state government, especially given the multibillion-dollar cost blowouts facing other major builds.
The rail loop’s business case showed a large section of the line — between Cheltenham and Melbourne Airport — has a benefit-to-cost ratio of between 1.1 and 1.7, meaning for every $1 spent on the project, between $1.10 and $1.70 would be returned.
Transport economist John Stanley, one of the architects of Plan Melbourne, which is the policy framework underpinning the Suburban Rail Loop, said that figure should be much higher.
“With a project like this, that has so much uncertainty about what the cost will turn out to be, I would want a higher benefit-cost ratio than that,” Professor Stanley said. “I wouldn’t be comfortable with that BCR range to build a project like this.”
A project’s benefit-to-cost ratio is important because it shows whether spending billions of taxpayer dollars on any given infrastructure project is a good use of public funds. It may also determine where Commonwealth funding is allocated.
Transport planner William McDougal said the economic case for spending many billions of dollars on the loop needed to be “compelling”.
The business case said that just a portion of the project, about 60 kilometres between Cheltenham and the airport, would cost between $48.5 billion and $67.4 billion over the next 30 years, surpassing the government’s original $50 billion estimate for the entire build.
The questions over the business case come after an Age investigation exposed the lack of transport and economic planning on the major project when it was unveiled to voters by Premier Daniel Andrews three months before the 2018 election. Gag orders and a code name were used to keep the project secret from the state’s top transport bureaucrat and the agency charged with overseeing the project.
The project’s benefit-cost ratio was also calculated using unconventional parameters that made it appear more financially healthy.
The project’s returns would have been far worse had KPMG’s economists applied a widely used discount rate of 7 per cent, which is recommended by Treasury and Infrastructure Australia, but debated among economists.
Instead, the Suburban Rail Loop’s BCR was found using a lower, 4 per cent discount rate, which bolstered the value of the project’s long-term benefits.
The discount rate sets a net-present value for the project’s future benefits and is key in determining if a project will be financially viable.
Had the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel, $15.8 billion North East Link and $13.7 billion Metro Tunnel been evaluated using the same method as the Suburban Rail Loop, their benefit-cost ratios would have doubled, their business cases show.
The West Gate Tunnel’s benefit-to-cost of 1.3 would have jumped from up to 2.3. The North East Link’s benefit-to-cost of 1.25 would have risen to 2.7 per cent and the Metro Tunnel’s 1.1 would have jumped to 2.4 per cent.
Professor Stanley said using the 4 per cent rate was appropriate for a long-term project such as the loop, but the same rate needed to be applied to all transport projects, making it possible to compare them like-for-like and decide which ones should be prioritised.
Business cases typically show multiple benefit-cost ratios for a project under scenarios where 4 and 7 per cent discount rates are applied, but the business case for the loop only shows a single benefit-to-cost under the more favourable 4 per cent scenario.
An artist's impression of one of the new stations.
The government defended using the lower discount rate for the Suburban Rail Loop, arguing it was more fitting for an “intergenerational” project and the same approach was used in the federal government’s Inland Rail’s business case and London’s underground rail project, Crossrail.
An inappropriately high discount rate could prioritise projects that provide a short-term ‘sugar hit’ rather than long-term, enduring community benefits, the spokeswoman said.
“Just as a 4 per cent discount rate was applied to the federal government’s Inland Rail Project to reflect the intergenerational impact of the project – that same consideration is appropriate for Suburban Rail Loop, a project that will have far-reaching benefits over many decades,” a government spokeswoman said.
Mr McDougal said it was concerning that if a higher discount rate was applied, the project’s benefits may not exceed the West Gate Tunnel, now facing claims of up to $5.2 billion in cost blowouts. “It means if there are cost blowouts, this project will be highly questionable.”
Premier Daniel Andrews and Transport Minister Jacinta Allan unveiling the planned Suburban Rail Loop just before the 2018 election.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
The project’s benefit-cost ratio also includes wider economic benefits, which goes against official recommendations and was a hot button issue with the controversial East West Link, where the Victorian Auditor-General revealed the project only had 0.45 cents when these benefits were excluded. Premier Andrews repeatedly argued the road was a “dog of a project” that didn’t stack up when he ripped up the project’s contracts.
Grattan Institute’s transport and cities director, Marion Terrill, said the 4 per cent discount rate was “defensible” and “sensible” in the context of the loop. This was due to currently low interest rates — an issue she raised in a report in 2018 report.
From next year, the Andrews government will start building the first stage of the SRL — 26-kilometre twin tunnels from Cheltenham to Box Hill.
But a benefit-cost ratio for this project alone was not examined in the business case, which looked at the entire 60-kilometre stretch from Cheltenham to Melbourne Airport, to be built over the next three decades. It means if future stages are not built by 2053, there is no way of knowing whether the first section built by the Andrews government will be value for money.
RELATED ARTICLE The proposed suburban rail loop would intersect with 10 other rail lines. Belated business case reveals rail loop will feature driverless trains
RELATED ARTICLE The Andrews government’s planned Suburban Rail Loop. Fears of ‘maze-like’ suburban loop stations lacking links to trains and unis
RELATED ARTICLE Tom Considine, Daniel Andrews, James MacKenzie, who helped come up with the state’s Suburban Rail Loop. Thrown in a loop: How Daniel Andrews’ biggest project was cooked up behind closed doors
[In Europe, the cities predated the railways.  Railways terminated at the city fringe, and eventually gained metro links under the city centre, and around the ring.  In many cases, that ring had been an original city wall.
Melbourne is the reverse: the railways came first, and the city grew along them.
Traffic flows are too diverse to justify this overpriced project, which seems to be designed just to satisfy somebody's ego.
For a fraction of the money, the whole of the existing system could be fixed, and run at double the current capacity, with real 'turn up and go' frequencies.  Despite the propaganda, it is not at saturation.
Having budgets blow out isn't a disaster if the project has merit.
In 40 years, only one Labor project has been designed and executed properly: the extension to Mernda.  To be useful, a project need more than just a marketing name and constant repetitive press releases featuring politicians in safety jackets.]

AUGUST 23 2021 Canberra lockdown: Bus timetable to change from Wednesday
ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith use the Check In CBR app to sign in on a bus. The app is now mandatory on public transport. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Canberra buses will run less frequently from Wednesday due to the territory's COVID-19 lockdown sending scores of drivers into quarantine.
From Wednesday, the weekday bus timetable will operate the same as the summer holiday timetable.
Weekend services will remain the same, and light rail will continue to run to its regular frequency.
Throughout the interim timetable, the Rapid 10 will run at least every 30 minutes and all other rapid services will run every 15 minutes until 8pm weekdays.
"At the moment we are seeing major impacts to the reliability of bus services because of the growing number of drivers required to comply with ACT health directions," Transport Minister Chris Steel said.
On Friday morning there were more than 80 drivers in quarantine after several were caught in exposure sites at school campuses.
"As a result of so many drivers in quarantine, we are enacting our business continuity plan by transitioning to a summer holiday timetable, effective Wednesday. This will ensure that public transport services remain frequent and reliable for those that need them," Mr Steel said.
He said people should only use public transport for essential reasons.
"If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please do not travel on public transport," he said.
During the lockdown, public transport patronage has been reduced to approximately 10 per cent of 2019 levels.
The interim timetable will remain in place until further notice.
Schools bus services will not run during that time, with daily trips reduced to about 40 in lockdown compared to thousands prior.
Essential workers whose children use a dedicated school bus service and are continuing to go to school should contact their school to advise of transport requirements.
Mr Steel said all children of essential workers who need public transport to get to school would be accommodated.
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Mon.23.8.21 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'.  Feds 'walk away’ from City Deal. TOM MINEAR
LABOR has accused the federal government of walking away from a major agreement it promised before the last election to transform Melbourne’s south-east.
Herald Sun revealed this month that Melbourne was the only state capital without a City Deal to combine the efforts of federal, state and local governments to build infrastructure and create jobs.
Deals were promised by the Coalition more than two years ago for Melbourne’s south-east and north-west. But in an article for Infrastructure Magazine, Cities Minister Paul Fletcher referred to the government’s work on an agreement for the northwest.
Opposition Cities spokesman Andrew Giles said the government’s failure to deliver the City Deals more than 800 days after commitments were made was a “broken promise”.
“The cat is out of the bag: the Morrison-Joyce government is walking away from millions of Melburnians,” Mr Giles said.
Herald Sun believes that the federal government is planning to arrange the north-west agreement before turning its attention to the south-east.

Mon.23.8.21 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'.  Letters:
* Where is money tree?  Matt Johnston (HS, 20/8) discusses the pros and cons of the massive Suburban Rail Loop project, the first 26km of which is guesstimated to cost a staggering $34.5bn (imagine what its actual end cost will be).
He seems to endorse Melbourne’s population continuing to grow exponentially, thus making such huge projects a necessity.
Perhaps he is right; perhaps Melbourne does need such infrastructure, and damn the cost.
But I am compelled to ask, do Victorians really want Melbourne to continue the rampant population growth of recent years and from which tree does $34.5bn grow?