Monday, December 01, 2014

Gold plating

Within The Highrise are 128 apartments. There are a couple of one bedroom, maybe one third are two bedroom and the rest are three bedroom. Most of the three bedroom have a bathroom and an en suite, although some opted for a walk in wardrobe instead of the en suite and nearly half would have both.

Just guessing, that might be say two people per apartment showering each morning between 6am and 8.30am and we never run out of hot water. The system is designed to cope with such a peak load. I seem to recall our hot water system can supply something like 80,000 litres of hot water an hour. I also believe there are two boilers and if one fails the other can almost keep up the supply. You could describe our hot water system as gold plated and why should it not be. When everyone wants hot water at  once, it can supply it.

I once heard former Prime Minister Gillard criticise the private companies that supply our electricity. She said they were driving up the price of power by gold plating the electric production and delivery system.  I could scarcely believe my ears. Did she mean that it was wrong to have an electricity system that can reliably supply power on the hottest of days so that we can stay cool? Surely that is the point of having air conditioning and surely is what we expect our power suppliers to deliver.

You could probably now describe Melbourne's water system as gold plated, with the huge and idle water desalination plant sitting there as a back up to our supply.

Melbourne's roads could almost be described as gold plated. Our roads are quite well designed and a lot of money is spent on them. That they can get horribly congested is another matter.

What is not gold plated, not silver plated, not even bronze plated, but perhaps plastic plated is our public transport. The train system breaks down frequently and is incredibly slow. Our tram speed averages are among the lowest in the world and trams spend more time sitting at red lights than trams in other systems around the world.

Many bus services are of such poor frequency, they are unusable by anyone other than those with plenty of time on their hands.

After seeing how public transport works in Europe and even to a lesser degree in England,  our public transport is hopeless and it will never be any good until a proper commitment is made to improving it, and I don't mean tinkering at the edges or just buying smart looking new vehicles. How nice are the centres of European cities with a focus on pedestrians, cyclists and public transport and not floods of cars in the streets.

Cycle ways are another area that is far from being gold plated. In spite of this we have seen a huge growth in the number of both recreational and commuter cycling.

Our medical care is far from perfect and yet its best aspect, almost free health care for all, will be destroyed by our conservative federal government, driving health care towards a US model, which has dismally failed the people of US.

Education is another and care for the environment are two more areas sadly lacking.

This is a rich country and there is no reason why everything can't be of a high standard.

I found this video about Zurich quite interesting. I did not intend spending nine minutes watching it, but I am pleased I did. Not everything done in Zurich can work for Melbourne or Australia, but with some thinking and planning, we could do it all oh so much better.

Zurich: Where People Are Welcome and Cars Are Not from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.



18 comments:

  1. Andrew it is very interesting post about your country the video is great and very informative. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week

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    1. Cheers Gosia. I thought the video was very interesting.

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  2. Impressive! I love that they can count and stop the cars outside the city when there are too many in town. After a year in Portland I've come to find our trams or street cars, as they are called here, are pretty dismal. It seems every other time I use them that one is broken down and holding up all the others. Many times I've had to wait an hour for a car and they don't let you know how long the wait will be. The buses seem pretty good but they don't go where I go; just the street cars. San Francisco was much much better for mass transit.

    I would hate to see you end up like the U.S. We're a mess and only getting worse.

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    1. Rubye, yes I thought about car counting was brilliant. I sorry to hear about your street cars. Portland is often held up as an example of light rail revitalising a city. An hour is an absurd time to wait. Ten to fifteens minutes in the daytime is at the extreme end of a wait for a tram, I should think. Many cities and here, at major stops there is live information about the wait of the next tram.

      Oh my Obama. What happened!

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  3. The only thing gold-plated about our SA water and electricity systems are the pocket linings of the profiteers. I heard on the news here recently SA pays hundreds of millions per year more than we should be in water costs.
    I have to say whoever designed your apartment building and the water supply therein did a fantastic job. Clearly the number of people and rush hour use was carefully researched.
    I don't think our public transport is plastic plated at all. Instead it is held together by sticky tape and rubber bands. A system as good as they have in Europe is a pipe dream I'm afraid. The time to start construction on something like that was about 50 years ago, the cost would be far too prohibitive now and even more so in the foreseeable future I'd say.
    Surely the government wouldn't drag it out of us via yet more and higher taxes?? I agree we are a rich country, so these standards should be much higher, transport, health, education etc, but as long as our government spends the money on other things, this won't happen. And where will they get future taxes from when all manufacturing is overseas so no one here has a job anymore?

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    1. River, I don't know how our water prices compare to other states. In Ireland they are having to pay directly for their water consumption instead of it just coming out of general taxes. They are protesting.

      To note River, what happened fifty years ago in Adelaide? The removal of a good public tramway system.

      Your points are very valid, especially about who will pay tax when no one has a job.

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  4. We should all pack up and move to Zurich.....

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    1. I would give it a try, River.

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  5. River nailed it. Our public transport is sticky tape, chewing gum and a few tired rubber bands as well. The screams about the cost of improving it are huge. Particularly from people who don't think they will use it.
    I am cringing at the thought that this guvmint will succeed in any of their attacks on health, education and the environment. And I don't accept the budget emergency as a reason. Not when we are happily spending money in other areas 'school chaplains for example' and ignoring rather a lot of rorts from the top end of town.

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    1. EC, it is such a chicken and egg argument. People won't use public transport when it offers such a poor experience.

      I am in total agreement with you, especially chaplins, especially when they replace counsellors.

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  6. You certainly have gold plated service in your apartment then. I bet many people would love to have the hot water.

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    1. WA, I have been a couple of other high rise buildings, cheaper ones, and the hot water supply is low pressure and not very hot. You get what you pay for I guess when buying an apartment.

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  7. From my first-hand experience of many thousands of kilometres travelled on non-urban roads, I'm confident we'll be facing a severe roadways (and hence transport) crisis in the not too distant future. Roads managed by by community organisations that rely on donations (like the Lions Road I wrote about) seem to be consistently better - why is that, I wonder?!

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    1. Lions Road is a special case. Certainly in Victoria, country people are quite aware of the deterioration of their roads. In spite of everyone complaining about their high council/shire rates and government taxes, no one wants to pay. Of course we all know what vehicle does all the damage to roads.

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  8. It's been interesting to see the public transport systems both in Amsterdam and Germany, as well as the preference for bikes. Australia has a bad attitude when it comes to people on bikes unfortunately.

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    1. Fen, I think the attitude to cyclists is changing, just by the sheer weight of numbers now.

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  9. It was an eye opener Andrew, I guess every country has its priorities.. Our government priorities are as clear as mud!

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    1. Quite clear to me Grace. Line the pockets of big business and developers.

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