Planning must start now
It's good to see that Infrastructure Australia has listed the electrification of the Melton railway line as a priority project to be completed in the next 5-10 years ("Melton train line upgrade listed among nation’s top priorities", 27/03). Nick Beale is right when he says it should be closer to five years than ten - this project is badly needed to take pressure off Ballarat-line trains, and give us a faster and less-congested trip into Melbourne.
One long-standing excuse for not electrifying the Melton line is that the City Loop is at capacity, so it can't be done until the Melbourne Metro tunnel opens. It was recently announced that the Metro tunnel is running a year ahead of schedule, and will open in 2025 - just seven years from now. Electrification to Melton should be built at the same time as the tunnel, so they can both open on the same day.
Allowing a few years for detailed planning and tendering, and a few more to actually build it, whoever wins the 2018 state election will need to start planning Melton electrification in 2019, around the time the Ballarat Line Upgrade project is finishing up. The voters of Ballarat will want to know which parties are committed to funding this project, before we go to the polls in November.
Ben Lever, Golden Point
I read in today's news that the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne and heritage Victoria have revoked a component of Queen Victoria Market's planning application. The Minister said that it would jeopardise the "integrity" of the historic sheds. Could they give Ballarat the same respect and review their decision on the railway station, to ensure that the integrity of this significant historical site is not lost.
Fiona Watson, Ballarat
A sad stretch
Ballarat's 'greening the city' strategy is to be applauded. But perhaps a couple of Council heavies might take a wander down to the roadside of Main Road alongside the Sovereign Hill fence north from Elsworth Street, where some years ago an avenue of plane trees was planted. At least a dozen of these trees are broken, dead, stunted or in many cases missing - and have been so for a long time.
This is the main entry point to the city for travellers (many of them tourists) from Geelong, the Bellarine and the Surf Coast. But the pitiful and struggling avenue along this stretch does not score too well on the 'green city' scoreboard. The Victoria Street entrance to the city is looking superb… the Main Road one looks very sad.
Barry Fitzgerald, Buninyong
Scandal raises more questions
What message does the cricket ball tampering send to young impressionable people I am not a sportsperson per se, yet I have admiration for anyone who has a go and plays as part of a team and not just for themselves. The current furore over the ball-tampering scandal committed by the Australian cricket team in South Africa is simply unacceptable on many levels. First, cheating cannot be tolerated; it simply isn't in the spirit of sportsmanship. When it occurs at the elite level, what message does it convey to young, impressionable people? Unfortunately, there has been little spontaneous contrition shown by the Australian cricketers in South Africa. The Australian team has been displaying an unattractive arrogance recently, which is damaging to our reputation as a nation that prides itself on its sense of fair play. Consider the amount so called elite sports players are paid? This might have something to do with the lengths they're prepared to go to win. For goodness sake, it is only a game! Winning is the game plan! We can't always win in a competitive environment. Yes, it takes talent to get to the top but it also requires an understanding of the privilege and responsibility being at the top of the game holds, particularly when they are representing their country. Isn't it time to review the role of elite sport, have a reality check on what it is about and how much is paid and to whom? Dare I say there should be a review of everyone's PD and responsibilities. Sport generally must ensure that so-called professional sportspeople who become leaders are also mentors, role models and are an inspiration to young people aspiring to be like them. In fairness, many are, but there are always those disappointing few. Furthermore, all people involved in sport must share responsibility for their actions, to make good decisions and be accountable for the consequences of their actions. And players in leadership positions must be exemplary in their behaviour. All must focus on demonstrating good sportsmanship and be gracious and dignified in victory and defeat. That is why I believe we have a responsibility to focus on young people and further invest in grassroots sport in Ballarat that is vital for the wellbeing of our residents, young and old, and that it is important to participate, with winning being a bonus. The Andrews Government has spent over $35 million without a strategic plan for elite sport (Eureka Stadium) in Ballarat, and who benefits in the long term? Not the general Ballarat community. It is time to invest in grassroots sport and recreation in Ballarat, not just indulge the few at the elite level. Happy Easter.
Ron Egeberg, Soldiers Hill