The Guardian July 16, 2003


Readers are invited to submit letters to The Guardian.
Letters may be e-mailed to guardian@cpa.org.au.
Letters of 300-400 words are preferred.


Letters to the Editor:

The commuters have spoken

NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has called on Premier Bob Carr to take away 
responsibility for setting public transport fares from the Transport 
Minister Michael Costa. The Minister wants to increase fares during peak 
travelling times. On some train services this is already the case. A return 
trip from Campbelltown to Town Hall in off-peak hours is $7.20, during peak 
hours it's $12.)

Although we haven't been told what else is being planned for Sydney's 
public transport, we could take an educated guess. Jacking up or dumping 
concession fares, turning school train and bus tickets into user-pays and 
reducing services are but a few "options" available to Costa.

Remember, Costa is one of Premier Carr's hatchet men, and that's why he's 
been picked for this dirty job. A sampling of letters to the Sydney 
Morning Herald by angry commuters shows that they are alert to the 
Government's intentions.

* "Higher fares. It's just a trick to throttle rail volume and clog the 
rest of Sydney's transport."

* "The fact that the resulting shift to private transport will cost the 
government and the community far more in fuel, road congestion, motor 
vehicle accidents and trauma, pollution and respiratory disease doesn't 
rate. Why? Because the community bears most of the costs, not the budget."

* "Now I get it. It's all my fault that the trains crossing the harbour 
never run on time, and are always dangerously overcrowded. How dare I be so 
inconsiderate, working in Chatswood. I'm sure my boss won't mind if I turn 
up three hours late every day."

* "Do the people who cook up these public transport 'solutions' live on 
planet Earth? Why do commuters choose to travel during peak times, crushing 
up against one another for an hour's journey in the morning and then again 
in the evening? It's not because of our love of humanity. We have to. Any 
fare increases that discriminate further during these times will surely 
lead to more people choosing to drive to work."

* "Increase services, make them more convenient, timely and comfortable, 
and you will find usage will increase dramatically."

* "Has the Government gone mad?"

Ms Rhiannon put it this way: "Michael Costa is justifying fare hikes on the 
economic rationalist argument that this would diminish demand. This is a 
practical matter of whether people can afford to get to work, not some 
abstract economic model.

"Fare hikes will have the most adverse impact on those living furthest from 
the city and who have the least employment options."

Do Carr and Costa have a long term agenda  to get commuters so angry with 
the public transport service that they will opt for privatisation as has 
already happened in Melbourne and Adelaide?

Marcus Browning
Sydney public transport user

Campaign to save wetlands
Guardian readers will be interested to know that there is a big 
campaign currently taking place in South Korea by local communities and 
international environmental groups to stop a development that will have a 
devastating effect on the environment and wildlife.

The development, by Hyundai Construction, is in the Saemanageum wetlands, 
on South Korea's west coast, and involves the construction of a 33 
kilometre dyke which will enclose and destroy the wetlands, turning them 
over to industrial use and farming.

This puts at risk hundreds of thousands of migratory shore birds, such as 
the Australian Great Knot, in their yearly exodus from Australia to 
Siberia. Saemanageum has 50 per cent of this endangered species, and is 
home to other threatened species, such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

South Korea and Australia are signatories to the Ramsar Convention on 
Wetlands of International Importance and although the project is almost 
complete the area  which has now become the subject of a world-wide 
campaign  can still be rescued.

Environmentalists are calling on the Australian Government to act by 
raising the issue with the South Korean government.

People can express their concern by writing to  John Howard, Prime 
Minister, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2003.

Jo Dunleavy
Wodonga

Let's get together
Last week Federal ALP leader Simon Crean wanted to know what sort of a 
nation it is that denies young people access to higher education. Well, in 
NSW the Carr Labor Government's last budget introduced fee hikes for TAFE 
of up to 300 per cent.

In fact, as the Greens education spokesperson Kerry Nettle noted, Labor 
Governments across the country are failing students for whom TAFE has been 
the only affordable option.

This year my friend's son went to TAFE to get his school certificate, so as 
to make a go of getting a decent job and having some kind of future. It 
cost $260 up front, before the purchase of materials he needed to do the 
course.

The Carr Government has also now imposed an up front fee of up to $350 for 
entry level courses that were previously free.

It is a disgrace that education policies by both major parties are 
excluding the vast majority of people from having access to higher 
education.

It is long overdue for the political forces that have the same goals around 
such important questions as education, health, employment, etc to set aside 
differences and join together to fight for their common aims.

Bruce Gillman
Sydney

Turned off
Reading Bruce Gillman's letter in the The Guardian (9/7/03) I see 
that it is not just the West Australian that imposes Gerard 
Henderson's conservative views on readers every week. How many other state 
newspapers are printing his extreme biased and subjective views on their 
readers? Who is behind this Government propaganda machine?

I have written letters weekly pointing out Henderson's selective 
misrepresentation, or omission of the facts to support his biased 
arguments. This is not good reporting. Must we be forced to accept it?

I tend to not read Henderson anymore. It only means I will be forced to 
write another letter that will be rejected by the letters editor of the 
West Australian. Are the major newspapers supportive and biased 
towards the Government's views? They are the same newspapers that 
constantly criticise the ABC!

Mary Jenkins
WA
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