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Infrastructure plans roads to redemption … or ruin?

Delaying or cancelling the 11km Blackheath to Little Hartley road tunnel will be seen as treacherous by many who live, work, run businesses or travel through the upper Blue Mountains (“Perrottet should heed advice of experts and postpone projects”, June 1).

Since 2019, local community organisations and businesses have tirelessly grappled with defining a positive, or least damaging, option for the Great Western Highway to be duplicated in the mountains west of Katoomba. The “long tunnel” is the most economically beneficial, and least socially and environmentally negative of all the options discussed.

Residents and businesses cannot afford to wait years for the highway traffic snarls and accidents, and the pollution of increasing truck numbers, to get much worse before anything meaningful is done. Gary Moore, Blackheath

With a rethink on infrastructure expenditure, any regional expenditure has been decapitated (“Brakes on big spending”, June 1). Cancelling the tunnel under the Blue Mountains will only increase transport cost of moving essential goods into Sydney. Another 20 years of using the current dog track has far-reaching implications for supply chain costs. Bruce Clydsdale, Bathurst

The premier has acknowledged that infrastructure projects need to be delayed. But one that is proceeding is the light rail for Parramatta. Is this because Parramatta is a marginal seat, held by the state Coalition by a slim margin, and the next state election is in March 2023? Geoff Black, Caves Beach

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Nowhere is the climate crisis mentioned by the premier in talking nation-building infrastructure, just big roads and “connectivity projects” (“Premier calls for nation-building funding, not car parks, from Canberra”, June 1). He must remember that our greatest challenge is the climate crisis. We will need to keep focused on how to reduce emissions by deep structural changes to our economy, such as improving public transport. The Morrison legacies of massive national debt and the misdirected gas-led recovery also have to be dealt with, on state and national levels. That will affect priorities, particularly infrastructure spending. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

Sydney’s city circle is arguably our most vital transport artery. It’s so congested we’ve had to build a metro to take some of the pressure off it, and every time there’s an incident on it, transport across the entire city descends into chaos (“Lord mayor pitches ‘interim solution’ to Cahill dilemma”, May 31).

Given this precarious situation, can we please have a moratorium on yet more utterly fanciful nonsense plans to move Circular Quay station, unless they begin with a practical and manageable way of doing so without shutting down the entire city for at least two years? Peter Fyfe, Enmore

On behalf of Sydney’s plebs I plead with the powers that be: don’t take away our chance to savour the glorious view of the Bridge, the Opera House and the lively bit of the harbour in between, as we stand on Circular Quay station or walk along the Cahill Expressway. Why should these elevated vantage points on the south side be available only to the fancy folks in the smart hotels and the office towers that are closed to us plebs? Penelope Layton-Caisley, Marrickville

So many people access Circular Quay via a bus or train to the city then connect with a train to Circular Quay. Without the railway station at Circular Quay, access to the Opera House, for example, will be more difficult and take much longer. There has been talk for many years about removing the Cahill Expressway. Surely we can spend less money beautifying this structure, when it is so vital for money to be spent elsewhere to improve public transport? Judith Rostron, Killarney Heights

Intervention needed to prevent GPs going extinct

Thank you, Jenna Price. It’s rare to have a journalist bother to understand the state of general practice, but you nailed it (“General practice is on life support”, June 1).

Currently, we are supposed to roll out free flu vax for all with no rebate for our nurses to give it. This means we either pay our nurses to do it anyway and suffer a financial loss, or have our doctors do it and lose valuable consultation time. This when we are also managing the flu epidemic, many other viral outbreaks, possibly fielding some 000 cases, ongoing COVID cases now abandoned by NSW Health, COVID fourth doses and, yes, our core business “saving lives before they know they have been saved”.

General practice is a job I and most GPs love. We have a strong sense of duty of care but governments need to stop taking advantage of that. Lately, shortages of appointments have also led to abuse from frustrated people, sometimes online, often towards our staff. Please tell our politicians – we in general practice are just as burnt out as the “angels” and “heroes” in hospitals. Lucy France, Cronulla

I have been a GP in Redfern for decades. I won’t list all the highlights, but some comments by patients have stayed with me and remind me that, in the end, my hard work and dedication, provided at rock-bottom prices, have rarely been appreciated.

One patient remarked; “You probably don’t remember me, but you saved my life a few years ago. Anyway, I’m just here for a script.” Another patient, not seen for years, complained at length at being asked to pay $10 for scripts and advice provided over the phone before telling me about the overseas holiday she had planned. A two-pack-a-day smoker told me they could not afford a $20 gap to see the doctor every few months. Health matters, folks, but you won’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Marie Healy, Redfern

My GP husband has pointed out for years that his work was in its death throes, that the numbers entering the specialty of general practice were declining so markedly that they were a threatened species in danger of extinction. Australia has a poor record on extinctions. At this stage of its disappearance, many interventions will be necessary, for example, lowering the ATAR to include the not-so-over-the-top brilliant minds that need to keep specialising; signing up most undergraduates to work as GPs for a minimum of five years or more; graduates to study under general practice mentors rather than hospital internship with medical specialists; and a Medicare rebate that moves with the CPI that would encourage graduates to stay rather than pursue specialist remuneration. Helen Lewin, Tumbi Umbi

Many holes in plastic bag ban

There is little to applaud in the current ban on single use plastics (“NSW bins bags in push to banish problematic plastics”, June 1). Supermarkets are completely untouched while their heavier bags and lightweight produce and deli bags are exempt. There is no mention of the yards of packaging they use before the good are on the shelf. It seems that the only people affected will be small businesses like bakeries and “two dollar” shops who use the lighter bags. So much for government support for small business. Sally James, Russell Lea

Great day for diversity

If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, the photo of Linda Burney being sworn in and congratulated by Governor-General David Hurley speaks volumes (“Pictures of swearing in”,, June 1). At its heart, his generous, warm and positive response to our incoming minister for Indigenous Australians and her equally proud, beaming face punctuates the tectonic political shift in the Australian political landscape. Truly a celebration of the inclusivity, respect and integrity which will be, in our Prime Minister’s own words, at the foundation of the Albanese government. Barry Ffrench, Cronulla

The glass ceiling of Parliament that for so long inhibited the advancement of gender and culture equity in Australian politics is being comprehensively dismantled and reshaped to create a hothouse of truly representable community discussion and decision-making (“Record number of women as Albanese stocks cabinet” June 1). Steve Dillon, Thirroul

Heart-warming win

Sam Lim’s life story and success in winning Tangney with an 11 per cent swing is heart warming (“From Flipper to flipping seats, Lim learns language of politics”, June 1). While the Albanese government has substantially increased ethnic diversity in the caucus and outer ministry, there is a still a long way to go. The New Zealand government now has a ministry where Maori, Pacific Islander and south Asians are very well represented at senior levels. Lim’s hero Gough Whitlam removed the last vestiges of the White Australia Policy and introduced a progressive agenda, Similarly, Albanese’s election will be transformative and should eliminate the divisiveness of the Coalition. Tony Simons, Balmain

Better public servants

The change of government is sure to have a massive impact on the public service, as Ross Gittins explains (“Public servants back in the tent”, June 1), but we need more than a government that’s prepared to listen to advice. Successive governments have so de-professionalised the bureaucracy that the quality of the available advice may be seriously compromised. What’s urgently needed is a change in the selection criteria to enable proper recognition of the importance of informed professional advice and expertise across all portfolios. Only then will the incoming government have the confidence to implement its ambitious program. Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale (Vic)

Familiar arrogance

Chris Bowen is showing the same type of arrogance that brought the downfall of the Liberal party (“Bowen designed policies to skip the crossbench”, June 1). Labor hasn’t been given a mandate by the Australian people. The uprise of the Greens and independents says it all and he needs to work with the crossbench to address climate change. I hope our new PM has a quiet word in his ear. In this first week of the new government they have spectacularly shown that they can hit the ground running and it would be a shame if climate change hit the first hurdle by a misreading of the people’s will. Margaret Grove, Abbotsford

Absence of resilience

There is no way Resilience NSW can wave a magic wand and fix what seems to be an impossible task (“Resilience NSW was ‘missing in action’, says MP”, June 1). People who are affected should be bought out, the land returned to crown ownership and the cost eventually recovered in the future by leasing for usage other than residential. Current owners should be given a letter of credit for the pre-flooding value of the land to help in the purchase of a new home. Frank Tweedie, Morpeth

Housing system rigged

Kate Colvin (“PM, your plan to fix housing crisis should reach for the stars”, June 1) illustrates the importance of homes for our society. After air, water and food they are the most important thing a society can provide but, these days, the system seems to be working against the very people it should be helping. The current system is set up to help those who do not need help; developers, real estate agents and multiple homeowners – but the biggest winners of all are the banks.

Who loses as interest rates rise and prices fall? Not the banks. They rode the price-rise-wave to secure billions of dollars’ worth of mortgages at inflated prices. And as interest rates rise, they’ll continue to benefit because they’ll raise the rates on those inflated loans – even though actual prices have fallen. We need to change the system so that the banks who help to cause the house-price bubble do not continue to benefit from it as house prices fall. Tom Orren, Wamberal Heights

Nuclear co-option

The Nationals have been duped by the nuclear lobby. Nuclear power is slow and very expensive to build, emitting lots of greenhouse gases in the process, has a poor safety record (think Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island, Sellafield), requires thousands of years of waste storage, and is very unpopular (Letters, June 1). Richard Edmonds, Morisset

Sound a sour note

Meena Evers notes notable annoying noises but did not mention those in restaurants (“Sounds of my family and other irritants”, June 1). Here one encounters shriekaholics who cannot talk normally, all amplified by alcohol. To this one adds the venue’s heavily amplified thumpy-thumpy bad music. In the end, everyone ends up screaming just to be heard. Ivan Head, Burradoo

Letters of loss

1.Down. Devastated at the passing of Donald Harrison. Tuesdays will never be the same again. (3.4) Answer: Sad emoji (“Vale Donald Harrison (DH)“, June 1).

In a recent discussion on the ideal dinner party guests, one of my inclusions was “DH from the Herald”. Deepest condolences to his family and the cruciverbalist world. Aidan Cuddington, Umina Beach

As a crossword fan, I was sad to hear of Donald Harrison’s death. The brilliance of being able to continually produce challenging puzzles always amazes me and I will miss DH. Vale to a master. Vicky Marquis, Glebe

Vale Donald Harrison, my cryptic crossword compiler of choice. Whenever I travelled out of reach of the Herald, and before digital access was available, I subscribed to DH’s cryptic crossword books. They had “clues for cryptics” at the start of each book and enough puzzles for two months of daily delights. My last one was Book 115, so that’s at least 20 years worth of daily puzzles. Beth Hansen, Alstonville

What sad news. Farewell DH, your cruciverbal skills and wit will be greatly missed. Mike Crowley, Moruya Heads

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
China sets Whitlam’s anniversary as target for relationship repair with Albanese
From tonyW: ″⁣As the saying goes – actions speak louder than words. If China is genuinely serious about ‘repairing’ relationships with Australia, rather than flowery words it needs to act and remove the childish bans on Australian exports to China.″⁣