Friday, April 30, 2010

Transport Trivia Friday

Presenting milestones in Victoria’s transport landscape...

This week: 1973


The Victorian Government signs a $6m contract to build the first of Melbourne’s underground stations, Museum Station (now Melbourne Central).


Plans are announced to reduce Victoria’s open-road speed limit to 60 mph.

Next week: 1974 ! !

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Efficiency, revenue, efficiency...

Kevin Rudd:
"Improving the structure of the tax system by replacing inefficient taxes with more efficient ones and streamlining governments and administrations reduces complexity and makes the Australian economy more productive.

"Australia needs to respond, to remain an attractive place to invest and to do business.

"That's the reason the government's aspiration is to reduce the level of tax faced by the vast majority of Australians."

Sooo… taxes which are "inefficient" will be replaced by taxes which are "efficient". One can therefore expect that taxes which "inefficiently" collect revenues will be replaced by those that will collect revenue very efficiently. All the while Kev "will reduce the level of tax faced by the vast majority of Australians." But not the amount. The level which we face might change but never the revenue (amount). That will simply be collected far more efficiently.

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Andrew Bolt trivialises killer drug

Andrew Bolt’s blog is of course Rudd Hate Central and, as such, part of the rich tapestry of Australian political life, providing a relatively harmless outlet for those who have nothing else with which to fill their days.

Among other threats to civilisation as we know it, Bolt is currently excoriating Rudd for his “lack of courage” in shelving the Emissions Trading Scheme — the evil “tax on everything” Bolt previously excoriated Rudd for wanting to promote.

But it’s not just Rudd’s “cowardice” and “ineffectiveness” with which Bolt takes issue. It’s that Rudd wants to “distract you” from his failings with the announcement of a proposal to only allow tobacco products to be sold in generic packaging.

Rudd has downscaled his gandiose [sic] ambitions from saving the entire planet to saving just a few smokers... Rudd is treating voters with complete contempt. The very next day after his humiliating backdown on his emissions trading scheme he announces a trivial campaign on smoking, banking that it’s enough to change the topic from his deceit and cowardice, and talk instead of hios [sic] being “tough” and “bold”.

Truly, if there’s an anti-Rudd angle to anything, Bolt will nail it and package it for ready consumption by his boltoids. Not that he’s a pioneer in that kind of thing, just as the Rudd Government is no pioneer in “distracting you.” Of course, it’s all just part of the rich tapestry of Australian political life.

But I must take issue with and excoriate Bolt for his careless throwaway line about “a trivial campaign on smoking.” The proposals announced are not about “saving just a few smokers.” Potentially, the measures could save hundreds or even thousands of people (particularly, the young) from ever taking up the deadly addiction.

If Bolt wasn’t so blinded by Rudd Hate, he might see that potential is underscored by the threat of a major legal challenge from the tobacco industry. And if he wasn’t so addicted to attention, cash and power, he’d alert his readers to the merits of the proposal.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eyjafjallajokull calling

According to UK’s Daily Mail,

Britain’s airspace was closed under false pretences, with satellite images revealing there was no doomsday volcanic ash cloud over the entire country.

Leaving aside the sloppy language of ‘false pretences’ and ‘doomsday’, one of the key revelations is that:

Evidence has emerged that the maximum density of the ash was only about one 20th of the limit that scientists, the Government, and aircraft and engine manufacturers have now decided is safe.

The problem with this reporting is it fails to make clear that there was no agreement, prior to the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, on what might constitute ‘safe limits’. Indeed, the aviation industry’s approach to the hazard of volcanic ash has apparently been in disarray for some years.

The body co-ordinating the international response to the spread of volcanic ash has been aware for at least three years of the need for new guidelines setting out the conditions under which aircraft can keep flying after an eruption... It has now emerged that the International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group, a division of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, discussed three years ago establishing what might constitute “safe” levels of ash for aircraft to fly in. But the aircraft manufacturers were reluctant to talk about the issue.

Perhaps Niki Lauda, Richard Branson, et al, should sue their aircraft’s manufacturers for having dragged their feet on this important matter.

Overall, the international aviation industry has been caught with its pants down due to the inconvenient timing of this eruption. But Eyjafjallajokull’s wake-up call has precipitated some on-the-run decision making which, we can only hope, will prove to be reasonably sound.

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