Close parallels with greed of the 1880s

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The Age – Letters – Close parallels with greed of the 1880s. October 3, 2014

The 1880s in Victoria were largely driven by land speculation and the building of useless public and private infrastructure such as the Outer and Inner Circle railways, which ran from Oakleigh to North Melbourne. This scenario closely parallels what is happening today where the Victorian economy is partly driven by rampant, greedy and unproductive property speculation. What is scary is that the East West Link follows almost the exact path of the useless Outer/Inner Circle railway line from Clifton Hill to west of Royal Park. Both were designed to facilitate the movement of goods to and from east of Melbourne to the western suburbs. Clearly this government and property investors have not learnt from the history of the late 19th century and none of the signees and supporters of the link have read Michael Cannon’s insightful book The Land Boomers. Hopefully the fallout will be gentler this time around, but I suspect not.

David Beardsell, North Balwyn

State cuts corners with our health

Traffic pollution causes a range of serious health effects. These include low-birthweight pregnancies, respiratory disease in children and lung cancer and cardiovascular disease in adults. There is no level of exposure to traffic pollution that is harmless. This means our air quality standards are a compromise, not a guarantee of safety. Recent modelling suggests air pollution is responsible for at least 3000 deaths per year in Australia, and that traffic pollution is a major contributor. So it is of great concern to read that a 10-storey ventilation stack for the tunnel will be built close to Clifton Hill Primary School, contrary to advice from the expert panel (”Final tunnel design ignores environmental advice”, 1/10), and that the polluted air arising from the stack will not be filtered. The future health of our children should not be compromised by political and financial expediencies.

Louis Irving, respiratory physician, Lung Health Research Centre, the University of Melbourne

Car parks of the future

For those beguiled by the glossy animations being spruiked by the government that depict free-flowing, well-spaced traffic swooping along the proposed link, I would remind them that similar depictions were widely promoted to ”sell” CityLink during the Kennett era. Now look at today’s reality. It was also stated then that CityLink would take vehicles off local roads, yet parallel routes such as Toorak Road and Swan Street now regularly become car parks during the ever-lengthening peak periods. Similarly, the ever-widening M25 motorway around London was built to reduce congestion but instead it has become the problem, not the solution. Expanded public transport is the (healthy) answer to the problem of vehicular congestion, not more kilometres of urban tarmac resulting in increased air pollution.

Ruth Clemens, Richmond

Road fixation doesn’t belong in 21st century

Yes, Selma Brown (Letters, 1/10), this is the 21st century and the horse and buggy have gone. In most progressive countries (and even in Perth) the fixation on massive road projects has also gone, replaced by fast, convenient and ubiquitous public transport. If you want examples, I suggest you visit Munich, Madrid, Vancouver …

Richard Aspland, Rosanna

Secret debt off the books

If Liberal government policy is to not saddle future generations with ”our” debt, why is the Napthine government willing to sign ”future” generations to East West Link debt? The difference is obviously that direct budget debt has to be disclosed, whereas debt from secret deals doesn’t.

David Matthews, Beaumaris

Unwise dependence

At the press conference on the East West Link on Thursday, Tony Abbott was asked several questions about our military involvement in Iraq. Unfortunately, no one made the connection: any new road project will only increase Melbourne’s oil vulnerability. Australia is 37 per cent dependent on Middle East oil, either through direct crude oil imports or indirectly through fuel imports from Singapore, Japan and South Korea. What we are seeing in the Middle East is a religious war on top of its oil fields (Letters, 2/10). It is strategically unwise to build new oil-dependent infrastructure.

Matt Mushalik, Sydney

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