Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

10.1% Unaccounted Water

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Lonsdale Street Water Main Break/ Photo by Lantrix

Last week I received my water bill. City West Water always send some interesting material with our usual bills.  Their own reported figures show that they are very good at fixing water problems quickly. One of the more interesting figures on their fact sheet is the unaccounted water percentage.  10.1% of Melbourne’s water supply seems to be unaccounted for.  Is this a normal figure? Surely it isn’t common to have  huge water main breaks such as today’s incident on Lonsdale Street?

Wikipedia reports unaccounted water or non-revenue water as water that is lost due to leaks or metering inaccuracies. While I thought 10% was big, China is an appalling 52%.  While it’s easy to criticize Victoria’s lack of forward thinking with it’s dams and desalination plant, at least we have good water infrastructure in place to retain most of our water.

A knight in blue

I had to verify that its true and it is true. We have a knight in shining blue, a Sir Ken Jones to be exact. He is the latest deputy commissioner of crime of the Victoria Police.

I like him. A bit different and because he is an outsider, he is yet to be affected by corruption allegations and in fightings within the force. According to The Age, he rides a Harley Davidson and dares to try different things to reduce crime and corruption.

For some strange reason, he reminds me of Simon Pegg in the movie Hot Fuzz.

Melbourne Awards 2009

melbourneawards08logoThe City of Melbourne runs the Melbourne Awards every year to honour individuals, businesses, and community groups that contribute to making Melbourne awesome. Unfortunate for us, that doesn’t include blogs but it does honour people who really go above and beyond to promote our city. Judging is done by a panel but nominations are done by the public via their website.

Looking at some of the past winners, they all seem to contribute to groups that help the underprivileged or the environment.  Some  interesting mentions from last year are Flexicar (the community car share program), The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival,  and the Chill On Ice Bar, a bar that I’m amazed it is still in business.

The nomination process seems like a daunting process involving up to 5 pages for your submission,  a 150-word overview of the project,DVDs, supporting materials, and industry testimonials among the many things recommended but is probably worthy of a good cause. Nominations close Friday May 15.

City of Melbourne: Melbourne Awards

Doyle and Brumby, the same person?

Doyle Cartoon. <i>Credit: Melbourne Leader</i>

Doyle Cartoon. Credit: Melbourne Times

It always amazed me that no one ever figured out that Clark Kent, a mild mannered reporter was also Superman. They talked the same, they looked the same, and were never in the same room at the same time.  I suppose I’ve never seen the Doyle or Brumby in the same room but mostly out of not caring.

In the short time that our Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been at the reigns he certainly has had some Brumbyish ideas. First, he proposed opening up Swanston Street (or more officially Swanston Walk) to vehicular traffic. That went down like a lead weight. In his newest proposal, he wants to ban hailing taxis on Friday and Saturday night in the CBD. In addition, he wants to create zones, where certain suburbs would have fixed prices.

Well, OK, more taxi ranks would be a great idea if you had them on every corner but a ban from hailing taxis from the CBD?  It’s absurd, pointless and dumb. Taxi drivers lose out on fares and passengers lose out on the very convenience of taking a cab. Besides the obvious problem of not enough vacant taxis, the taxis who are free will reject fares that are not far enough away. This has happened to me multiple times which ended up with me reporting the taxi, and the taxi commission essentially saying “bad boy” to the driver.

Brumby’s recent ideas besides the 2AM lockout debacle was allocating a whole bunch of roads as clearways to ease traffic without any consultation with traders or local councils.  I was recently reading an article in the Melbourne Leader Times, of how the Victorian government wants to bypass local council’s planning processes to speed up building developments. No consultation again. Are we seeing a pattern here from these two?

No hailing taxis, cars on Swanston street, no conferring with any stakeholders. What has this government come to? Do these politicians bother to step into the city at all? It seems like they just want the easiest commute into and out of the city and nothing else. How about actually asking us 2AM lockouters what we want? Bring back John So, at least it’s better to have a token funnyman mayor, then someone who wants to rock the boat with ludicrous ideas.

Doyle + Brumby = Dumby (unless someone can think of something better)

Public Transport rally this Tuesday

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) are holding a rally Tuesday lunchtime (from 11.30 am, speakers begin at Midday). It will be held at Parliament House (Bourke and Spring Streets) and will coincide with the first sitting day of parliament for the year.

A coalition of community groups, led by the Victorian Water Forum, is holding a rally to call on the Brumby government to listen to the people and provide real solutions on water, climate change and public transport. PTUA is supporting this call, and will be attending.

Come along to the front steps of Parliament in your lunch hour and stand up for better public transport and real action on climate change.

See the PTUA website for more information.

Only in Australia

Only in Australia, would there be an online game to ‘grill’ the bastard for a so-call traditional Australian barbecue.

Started by the Australian Democrats, they are using the game to highlight all the broken promises by the politicians. But does it cut it?

I prefer to put the politicians on a contract. They will only get paid when they deliver on what they promise. How’s that?

News
The Age “Grill a bastard: online game …”

New Mayor of Melbourne – conservative Robert Doyle insults Melbournians, threatens to "clean up" city streets

Melbourne a has a new lord mayor – and it’s the much-reviled ex-leader of the conservative (sorry if this is confusing to American readers…) state Liberal Party.

In an article in The Age, Doyle has stated his antipathy towards Melbourne’s street buskers, declaring “They actually do need to be properly licensed and regulated so that we are not just assaulted by a whole lot of different sounds every 10 metres along the footpath.”

For those not familiar with our city, you’ll find yourself assaulted by a cacophony of raucous noises wherever you go on CBD streets – but not from the usually-talented and often-appreciated buskers; rather from the myriad of pseudo-trendy clothing stores that pump their bad pop music up as loud as the human ear can stand it.

But no, in true conservative style, Doyle has singled out one of the great things about Melbourne’s street life – our buskers. Some people may try to tell you that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or that cracking a smile at the less talented buskers is just a part of the fun of a city where people aren’t afraid to be out on the streets. But no, not Doyle.

Even more insidiously, Doyle has threatened to open up Swanston Street to car traffic. The street is already used by a minimum number of cars – taxis, buses, and police vehicles – but the basic idea behind Swanston Street is that it’s a relatively safer street for pedestrians and cyclists. It used to be called the Swanston Street walk. And as somebody who lives on one side of the city, and has to go through the city centre (parallel to Swanston Street) to get wherever he needs to drive, i can tell you from personal experience – there is absolutely no need to open it up to more car traffic. But Doyle wants to get his name out there. If you ask me, he’s only trying to make it clear to those of us who love Melbourne for it’s street life that he’s firmly on one side of the line (probably somewhere around the affluent suburbs… *ahem*), and we’re on the other.

This goal is only underlined by his reference to Melbourne as a “bogan magnet” – a bogan, for non-Australians, is a scruffy person with little fashion sense and a lower-class accent. According to legend they can be found around the far eastern suburbs, always close to a train line, a court, and a welfare office. Doyle doesn’t want any of that sort in his city.

So hey, New Yorkers, how did you get rid of Guiliani? We may be needing some expert scum-removing polish very soon, or at least a pest exterminator that specialises in country-club wannabes.

Cranbourne Saga

I have been trying to follow the stories about the gas leaks out of the closed landfill in Cranbourne. And the more I read, the more confused and perplexed I am about the entire situation. I mean, this is what I have gathered, so far,
1. The Council of Casey as well as the EPA opposed the building of houses too closed to the closed landfill. The developer Peet wanted land as close as 200m from the landfill to be subdivided for development. So, the Casey Council rejected the development plan.
2. The developer, Peet, appealed to VCAT and they were successful in having that decision overturned, with certain conditions attached (whatever they were, we don’t know).
3. So, now, there are houses built as close as 50 metres from the landfill, in the area known as the Brookland Greens Estate.
4. Methane gas has been leaking from the site for quite some time now. It is only in recent days that the situation had become quite bad.
5. So, the EPA has stepped in, and not quite ordered ( but encouraged) people to move out of their homes, and had installed monitors in homes.
6. Some residents had moved but some are staying put. The State Government are providing $8500 per household towards relocating the residents. Residents do not have to pay council rates up to a year.
7. Class action being considered by some residents, using the law firm, Slater & Gordon.

Like everyone living in Melbourne, we all want to know who is in charge of this whole mess. At the moment, nobody, because nobody wants to be blamed. Not the council, not the developer, not the EPA, and of course, not the residents.

I just have one hypothetical question: In the event of a fire, say, started in a house or on the street, accidentally, and the entire estate is almost destroyed, due in part, to the leaking methane. Will the insurance companies covering the house and content of all the households pay up? Surely, the insurance companies, are the best people, to find whom is to blame?

News Links
The Age “Questions over checks on gas leak estate
Herald Sun’s “Cash help worth $8500 …”
Herald Sun’s “Probe into methane …”

2AM Lockout Lifted

Brumby 2AM FailToday marks the end of one of the worst policies trialled on Melbourne.  No longer do patrons have to suffer confusion over which venues have lockouts. No longer will the streets be flooded with people “locked out” of venues. What have we learned from the lock out? Nothing it seems. Crime has increased, there’s still not enough police on the streets, and people are still fighting IN THE STREETS not in the venues.  Good old John investigated the situation over the weekend, something he perhaps could have done before the lockout.

At least footy players will have an easier time celebrating Mad Monday tonight.

Links:

Herald Sun: Violence soars in CBD fringes as revellers move out of inner city

Connex encourages fare evasion…

After riding into the city with a valid ticket this morning, I felt a little uncomfortable to be yet again confronted by the trench-coated Connex “heavies” standing over every turnstile to make sure we’re all doing the right thing.

I understand that Connex is losing money by the bus load every week to fare evasion, but I think it’s well time they took a moment to see why people aren’t buying tickets – the system is cramped, dirty, unreliable and overpriced.

Most of our train stations are unstaffed and the ticket pricing system doesn’t make sense. I don’t see why I should have to pay for a two hour ticket if I only want to travel two or three stops.

Time after time we see politicians and representatives from our public transport providers heading off on junkets to see how transport works better in other countries, but they never improve anything when they get back. Maybe it’s because these are people who don’t actually use the system.

I guess we’ll have to wait two years to see if the Myki system will change anything. Considering the time and money already wasted on this system, and the fact our government insists on pursuing it (hmm…can I smell dodgy deal or incompetence cover up?), I’ll try not to get too excited.

Our system is fixable, and in a way that would provide a better system for its users, and make more money for the providers. As money doesn’t seem to be an object for Connex, I can’t see why this problem can’t be resolved.

Charging the dwindling amount of people who actually pay for the system more, while providing an increasingly ineffective and unpleasant system is not the answer – quite the opposite, it’s why people give up and stop paying.

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