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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
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
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
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 JenkinsBack to index page