The first Tuesday of May is Victorian State Budget day.
On Budget day, journalists and some interest groups (well, those that have the resources) attend the Budget Lockup, where from about midday to the 3pm public release, they get to peruse the budget papers, but can’t communicate what they find with the outside world.
They are let loose at around 3pm, and often gather in the grounds of Parliament House, where representatives from the interest groups will form a (reasonably orderly) queue up to give their comments to the waiting media.
On a rainy day, they might all huddle under the small shelter at the back door to Parliament. Otherwise, they might head for the garden.
This year there was an added bonus in the garden: Trades Hall had come along with a multitude of jellybabies, representing the 43,000 jobs lost in Victoria in the past 12 months.
- Video: Budget blues strike public sector (7pm TV News VIC)
- Bonus pic of yours truly taken by Adrian Lowe from The Age
And the budget in summary? Well for PT, apart from extra V/Line carriages, confirmation that the very successful 601 Huntingdale to Monash Uni shuttle has got recurrent funding, and three grade separations, not much else. Certainly it was a tight budget, but roads seem to have got more new money yet again.
These anonymous flyers appear to have popped up overnight (at least I didn’t spot them yesterday) around Bentleigh station.
I might note that since the 2010 timetable was introduced (and the tweaks in 2011), the morning commute is slower, but I for one can almost always get a seat on the train in the mornings, apart from when there are cancellations and other disruptions. However, I consistently travel after 8am on weekdays — it may be a different story before 8.
Whoever posted these new ones, it seems public transport is still a hot button issue — something both major parties would do well to note.
I didn’t spot any signs relating to the sub-par Bentleigh “Smartbus”.
The barber the other day was having a rant about crime (as well as a number of other issues), and claimed that white-collar criminals almost always get caught (specifically, he reckoned they get caught 95% of the time), but muggers and others who commit crimes against the person almost never get caught (he reckoned 95% of the time get away with it).
It sounded pretty unlikely, and frankly I was relieved when his ranting got onto more hazy, less provable (or disprovable) ground. I think he’s been listening to too much tabloid talkback radio.
So what are the real figures?
The Victoria Police publish statistics on crime, including “single year clearances”. From page 14, and quoting the 2010-11 year:
|Category||Offences recorded||Offence rate per 100,000 population||Single year clearances|
|Crime against the person||48,511||868.5||78.0%|
|Crime against property||252,417||4519.1||29.5%|
I’m going to assume that the clearance rates for the bottom two categories are so much higher because they might generally be reported as a result of proactive police action, whereas the others are generally reported by members of the public, and then investigated after the fact.
On the face of it, the opposite to the barber’s claim is true: you are more likely to get caught for a crime against the person than for a property crime such as theft. (Presumably some crimes are cleared after more than a year, bringing the figures up a bit further.)
I like the barber, but I suspect his ranting that the carbon tax will ruin the country is equally wrong, and I’m not entirely sure about his theories on what the CIA’s up to can be trusted either.
There’s some other interesting stats in the VicPol document, such as the temporal trends (pages 103-112), which show that crimes such as assault are more likely on Friday and Saturday nights, there appears to be a spike in homicides on Mondays around midday (hmm. Could be the small sample size skewed it?)… and burglary (residential) is most common on weekdays during the day (eg when people are at work) — which makes me think the home insurance people should ask if there’s a car in the driveway on weekdays, and give a discount for it.
Page 114 covers the locations of crime. More crimes against the person occur in residences than anywhere else (18,568 out of 48,511, or 38%). In contrast, 1,873 (3.8%) occurred on public transport. There’s also a figure of 1,180 for “other transport” — I’m not sure what this means — people beating each other up in their cars? There were no homicides on public transport, but one on “other transport”.
Page 116 has figures on the relationship of the victim to the offender. For most types of crime against the person, the victim was known to the offender. No relationship was recorded in 25.6% of cases.
Some interesting figures. Well worth a read.
This might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but there was some fascinating reading on economics and politics in last week’s media, and since I have nothing else for you, here it is in my blog:
Then there was Access’s early 2009 warning that it would be “impossible to avoid a recession“. The Rudd government promptly did exactly that.
The immediate test of whether a party is fit to govern is the minerals resources rent tax (MRRT). In economic terms, it’s a no-brainer, which is why the opposition’s stance is such a worry. Either there are no brains, or the leadership is so pathetically shallow that they are prepared to damage the country to get the keys to the Lodge.
Pointing to Australia’s Budget deficit, the Opposition Leader thundered: “Why is the Government planning to provide money it does not have to prop up the eurozone, which is the world’s biggest economy?”
ABBOTT knew – or should have known – that Australia’s contribution to the IMF would be in the form of a loan, with no impact on the Budget bottom line. In fact, it will earn interest.
This billboard is still on display up high above Flinders Street, opposite the station, roughly across from the centre entrance*.
It seems to refer to the 20% emissions reduction by 2020 pledged last year by Labor, and matched by the Coalition, though some say there are indications the Coalition will drop the target.
Perhaps it’s just too difficult for the advertising company to remove it, and/or they haven’t got another client who wants the space. Despite the size of the sign, it’s not really very noticeable.
Google Streetview shows a different advert up there.
(Tip-off: Mike Alexander.)
*At least, it was still there a few days ago. I haven’t checked this week.
New for June… a Lego house with solar panels on the roof.
Here’s a few thoughts on the carbon scheme announced yesterday:
1. I simply don’t understand how the deniers can continue to be taken seriously by anybody when the vast majority of climate scientists agree there’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
It also seems a peculiar view that the world’s population can continue to burn fossil fuels in huge amounts with no consequences.
2. It’s true that Australia represents only a small fraction of overall global emissions. But people are are watching, and influence is important. On any issue, people look to those who are leading the world. Here’s a small example: while I’m not even sure I agree with it, it turns out that inner-city Melbourne has been hailed as a world leader in pedestrian-friendly streets. If we have any hope at all of convincing others to do something about reducing emissions, we have to get our house in order.
3. The scheme sounds like a pretty good start. If the modelling is right, it’ll have a minimal effect on the overall economy (0.1% of GDP) while providing a good price signal that big companies in particular need to find better ways of doing things.
4. The Opposition’s view on this doesn’t make sense to me. A plan of direct action? There seems to be agreement from economists that this is less efficient than a pricing scheme:
The main finding of the research is that the experience from these six schemes indicates that a general price on carbon emissions is preferable to specific measures. – markets are generally more efficient in encouraging innovation than direct government intervention. — CPA blog
And wouldn’t direct action be far more like a socialist response than letting market forces figure it out? Interesting quote from Alan Kohler about just who wants what:
For what it’s worth, what I think is that the entire scientific, business, bureaucratic classes – all the serious people – are in favour — Alan Kohler on Twitter
Those against carbon pricing are the Shadow Cabinet (and not even all of them) plus some attention-seekers. That’s all. — Alan Kohler on Twitter
5. There’s some niggles. The Australian Railway Association notes that with petrol exempt and heavy (road) vehicles exempt for some time, railways, which should provide a less carbon-intensive way of moving people and freight, will be disadvantaged by not being exempt. One estimate is that it may push up public transport fares by about 2%.
6. The second niggle (but a political reality) is that the scheme is aimed squarely at the big emitters, and with lots of compensation to individuals, there’s little or no incentive to change personal behaviour. Hence, petrol is exempt (but as Phil Hart from ASPO said at a recent PTUA member meeting, including it wouldn’t have made much of a price difference compared to what will happen when peak oil really kicks in).
7. Personally I’m not sure if I’ll end up ahead or behind in economic terms. The Estimator tool on the government web site told me “The household situation described by the information you have entered is not covered by the scenarios used by this Estimator.” Oh well.
From the looks of it, wealthier people can’t count on the tax changes to get all their costs refunded. But then, they are precisely the people who can afford to cover their roofs in solar panels themselves to cut their electricity and gas costs, and cut their direct emissions and costs that way.
8. Niggles aside, I do think it is important to get the ball rolling on reducing emissions, and it does seem to me that putting a price on pollution sends an important market signal that will get that process underway.
But solution of our problems involves hard cash. Of this, at present, public transport is getting less and less.
(Minister for Transport) Mr Wilcox emphasises that Government action depends largely on public demand. If such demands are not made funds go elsewhere.
He says that while the motor car owner readily provides funds for road building, there is no public transport users’ association to make demands on the Government.
(Found by Marita; emphasis added. It’s unknown if Frank Casey was partially inspired by this comment.)
Glen Mount Waverley MP Michael Gidley got into a scrap with some ALP campaign workers on Wednesday outside Parliament Station.
On exiting the station, I received a brochure from an individual.
I then sought advice from authorised officers at the station on the distribution of this information because I do not believe it is appropriate for commuters to be approached in this manner by people distributing this information.
The ALP campaign workers, who work for Shadow Transport Spokesperson Fiona Richardson, claimed he was aggressive towards them, demanding to know their identities. Channel 7 reporter Brendan Donohoe saw the last part of the exchange, and said Gidley was shouting.
Has this guy never been handed a political brochure outside a railway station before? All the parties do it, and provided they weren’t blocking the exit or inside the station itself, he’s being a bit precious. And losing your temper over it certainly isn’t acceptable.
But what’s in the brochure itself? I haven’t been handed one yet, but Andrew got one on Monday outside Melbourne Central, and kindly scanned it for me.
Point by point.
“30.5 million extra passengers.” This is from the budget papers; the total 2011-12 target minus the 2010-11 expected outcome for metropolitan trams, trains and buses.
“No extra train services.” Err well I hate to break it to Labor, but this isn’t right. Metro and the Department of Transport are now on a trajectory of steadily adding services. This would have happened no matter who was in government. A bunch got added in May (though not on all lines, and Fiona Richardson’s Epping line was one that missed out), and more will get added in the next timetable revision.
In fact the same budget paper they got the 30.5 million from also says (on the following page) that train services will be expanded from 19.7 million service kilometres in 2010-11 to 21.0 in 2011-12 — a 6.5% increase (to cover a forecast 7.8% increase in passenger trips — something Labor don’t mention — though note part of it is expected to be off-peak growth, which in some cases can be accommodated on existing services).
“No new trams”. Labor ordered 50 which have yet to start arriving, but this is basically correct. The Coalition hasn’t funded any more.
“No new buses”. Umm well, in just over two weeks, the high-frequency 601 shuttle between Huntingdale and Monash Uni starts, and presumably requires an increase to the bus fleet, so this obviously isn’t true. But it is true that no new Smartbuses or major service expansions (apart from the 601) are currently on the cards.
The flip side re-iterates and expands on these points:
On the point of the new timetable: actually the number of peak-hour loop services didn’t drop. It went up. The biggest change in peak the Glen Waverley line switching to run direct, so 7:01 to 9:00am from Richmond:
- Old timetables: from Caulfield 37 + from Glen Waverley 12 + from Camberwell 24 = 73
- New timetables: from Caulfield 36 + from Glen Waverley 0 + from Camberwell 41 = 77
The number of direct trains into Flinders Street also went up.
It’s true that the new timetable increased travel times. The loop changes add to some trips, and make others quicker, but there is certainly padding in the timetables which means some trips are at the very least several minutes slower — and I don’t think any trips got quicker due to those types of adjustments.
As for the conclusion, that’s it’s getting worse under the Liberals, well that’s a loaded statement that I think is very difficult to prove.
The Opposition has a vital role to play in ensuring scrutiny on the government. They’re short-selling themselves with this brochure. There are genuine concerns that the government is ignoring, and the pledge for more open government is definitely something that Labor should be making more of.