American actor Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo were here illegally in Australia. Depp and his then wife Amber Heard had to face court. While it happened in Queensland, it was a Federal offence.
The NSW Premier announced a ban on greyhound racing in his state but then changed his mind after being got at by a forceful lobbying campaign by those with vested interests. Pretty well #1 of #101 ways to look like a weak leader and an inexperienced politician. I don't recall a huge amount of support for Premier Baird from the animal rights lobby, but then the tabloid media was hostile to the ban, so perhaps there was but we don't know about it.
Now in Victoria we look like laughing stock because a government minister , Steve Herbert, had his dogs riding around alone in his chauffeur driven ministerial car. The minister's electorate is a long way from Parliament so he is paid a substantial allowance for a house nearer to parliament. The dogs were being transported from his house nearer to parliament to his holiday house, 120 kilometres away. He has yet to reveal how often this has happened. A little digging by reporters then uncovered that his holiday home was not declared on the parliamentary register, as it should have been. There is a phrase or two coming into our Australian language, 'Does it pass the sniff test?' or 'Does it pass the pub/watercooler test?' By any measure it does not and someone, at the very least so incompetent, should not be a minister in government.
I'll get to trains shortly, but well done to the spin doctors who came up with the latest buzz phrase, growing pains. Melbourne is suffering extreme growing pains caused by our rapidly expanding population. This phrase growing pains is to make us think the problem is temporary, but it is not. Growing pains stop when growing stops. Melbourne will always now have massive traffic congestion and overcrowded public transport for as long as we keep growing. The wealth and lifestyle divide between the rich and the poor and the inner and outer residents will continue to grow.
Oh that construction workers on new outer building sites could be put to work restoring and renovating old buildings for residential use much closer to the city, which neatly brings me to the historic Carlton pub that was illegally knocked down, no doubt to be replaced by a very tall apartment. Nothing was done to remove the asbestos and it is mixed in the rubble, although some was removed and illegally dumped at another site owned by the same owners, right near residential housing. It seems the punishment to the developers will be severe. A tenet behind punishment for this outrageous behaviour must be 'You will never profit from this outrage'. In fact I will add to that. Sending the developers towards bankruptcy would be a just punishment. It must be time to insert a photo. Didn't the hotel look nice. Photo from Property Investor.
'So Helen, are things all sorted for the opening of the new rail line? Enough staff? Enough trains? The Prime Minister and the Premier will be at the opening. What about the ongoing operation? Will that be ok?'
At that point he should have panicked but it should never have gotten to that. The minister must lose his portfolio.
It is lucky that Melbourne's Metro Trains are more on top of things, having an adequate number of train drivers, or do they? Metro Trains rely on drivers working overtime to provide extra services for the Melbourne Spring Racing Season. Given overtime work is surely optional for train drivers, this could potentially go very wrong, especially if labour relations between Metro Trains and its workers are not good, and I don't think they are. It is alleged that excessive sick leave is being taken by drivers. Well, that is what happens when workers are unhappy and stressed. Good company management does not have unhappy workers.
Public transport is taken much more seriously in Britain however it is a long way from perfect. Similar to what happened in Queensland has happened with trains run by Southeastern and Southern, that is a barely adequate new timetables with services much reduced or altered to cope with driver shortages. How many private companies run trains in the UK? Around 22. Absurd and I can assure the quality of the service is very variable having used two companies in rural England. Chalk and cheese is the phrase that comes to mind.
Grand Central, Hull Trains, Merseyrail, Virgin Trains West Coast, C2C, East Coast, Chiltern Railways, Scotrail, East Midlands Trains, London Overground, Cross Country Trains, First TransPennine Express, London Midland, TfL Rail, South West Trains, First Great Western, Northern Rail, Arriva Trains Wales, Southern, Albellio Greater Anglia, Southeastern and Thameslink.