What caused this week’s train chaos? An incompetent government

Wednesday’s train problem was a lesson in how not to appease an agitated public in large numbers at Central station, all asking the same questions of an equally uninformed station staff, that is, will they be able to get their trains home, and when (“Chaos as shutdown hits train network”, March 9). Saving the assailed staff could have been a simple matter. Messages could have been successfully delivered across the public address system by firstly using a loud alert signal – shutting the hubbub down – then, at adequate volume, clear diction and moderate delivery speed. As it was, it was largely inaudible. These skills should be taught, learnt and practised. Melees could be averted. Dave Thompson, Blackalls Park

Sydney’s train network was in chaos on Wednesday after a communication issue.Credit:

One of the most disturbing aspects of Wednesday’s shutdown was the repeated calls for the stationmaster to return to the stationmaster’s office. Ann Brindle, Beverly Hills

Communications failure makes for a telling morality tale. A bright young thing inherits a large estate, selling off the family silver to fund an obsession with cars. Growing ever more private he races ahead with bigger, faster and smarter, confusing slogans with reality until communications totally break down like ferries, trains and overseas contracts do, just as he realises popularity means everything. Having your plans derailed by ignoring the obvious is a high toll to pay. Peter Farmer, Northbridge

David Elliott is right about “foul play” being the possible cause of the rail malfunction. The “foul play” is the way the Coalition government has run the public transport network, and in particular the railways, into the ground over the last dozen years. Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West

It’s always enlightening to know that the massive system failure that shut down Sydney’s rail network on Wednesday afternoon can always be described by the very specific terms of “an internal problem” and “a glitch” by the transport minister. George Zivkovic, Northmead

The transport minister has quickly got to the correct conclusion about the cause of Wednesday’s chaos on or, rather, off the trains. It is just that he deflects to the wrong causes. We all know the true culprit is his incompetent and irresponsible government. Paul Fergus, Croydon

With the train chaos, on the eve a state election, one might say that the NSW government’s “chickens have come home to roost” (“Meltdown could not have come at worse time”, March 9).

The NSW Coalition government has sought to bury its underperforming rail network in its hived-off Transport Asset Holding Entity. Most voters would accept that public transport is a loss maker, which they need to subsidise via their state taxes. It is better to pay required rail maintenance, than have frustrated, stranded commuters. Geoff Black, Caves Beach

Although Dominic Perrottet cannot be single-handedly blamed for Sydney’s latest train fiasco, successive Liberal governments have been totally inept at maintaining and running our public transport. David Elliott as transport minister is not the solution, and it would appear the people of NSW are in need of a change in government as the current one has become quite complacent. Peter Miniutti, Ashbury

It’s taken the Coalition 12 years in power to not fix the trains. Well done. Tim Schroder, Gordon

A huge shout-out for the bus driver who could see me hobble towards my bus and waited for me to board during Wednesday’s rail chaos. It was a gesture of human kindness in what, at the time, was a crazy world. Genevieve Milton, Dulwich Hill

Australia must have audacity to fight for peace

Next to the climate crisis, China’s rise is the biggest disruption to the world that we grew up in (“Confronting ideas that could help defend nation”, March 9). It’s in some ways a return to an older world order, reflecting China’s size and historical weight.

China has unfortunately demonstrated its readiness to ignore international convention to control what they believe is theirs. Yet invading Taiwan, a fully separate state in all the ways that should matter, would represent a new level of aggression, carrying an unimaginable cost.

The Red Alert series’ recommendations are undermined by its message we can only “prepare for war”. What if the panel had argued that we should “prepare for peace”? What if alongside strengthening our military they had given any consideration to our diplomatic, economic and cultural power? The panel rightly praised our diversity and ties with our neighbours and asserted that we are more than a middle power. What if they had suggested that Australia had the audacity to use that power, to sit at a table between the leaders of Taiwan and China, to fight for peace? James Cox, Petersham

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

This week, I have been reminded of the fear instilled in me in my youth. According to the domino theory espoused by America and embraced by Western democracies, if one country fell under the influence of communism, then other countries would follow like falling dominoes. Eventually, the whole of South East Asia would be under the Communist yoke and pose a threat to Australia. It was the justification for America to go to war in Vietnam in the defence of democracy. We now know what happened. Australians were conscripted and some of those fortunate to return home, were traumatised. The war caused death and destruction in the IndoChinese countries and a flood of refugees and even today, left certain areas like the historic Laotian Plain of Jars, closed to farming because of American unexploded ordnance. Not one of the dominoes of the non-Communist countries embraced communism.

Over the years, I have heard variants of the same argument for America to conduct wars or overthrow democratically elected governments in other countries; the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chile, Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few. Each time the result is the same. Countries are left in chaos or ruins or both and the American military industrial complex grows richer. But getting into a war with China is different from wars with underdeveloped countries. It is a red alert, alright. Thiam Ang, Beecroft

Let’s take a moment for sober reflection. We must be careful about who we align with (“Call a spade a spade: China is clearly a danger, Mr Keating”, March 9). The USA, for example; a country which dragged us into the illegal invasion of Iraq and which remains one election (or insurrection) away from being governed by crazy people. Do we really hitch our wagon to another Trump? If China wanted to invade us it could, and there is nothing within our power to stop that. Talk of the “inevitability” of war is harebrained. Do we want Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to look like Bakhmut? Graham Cochrane, Balmain

In the editorial, there is a suggestion to bring back national service. I’m sure I’m not the only mother who thought of resurrecting the Save Our Sons movement. I did not find this suggestion from the expert panel “palatable”. I felt sick. Sharelle Fellows, Gulgong

History has shown if you have nuclear weapons you are considered a target for nuclear weapons. What your panellists are advocating is having the USA base nuclear weapons in Australia over which we would have no control. Is that really a good idea? Steve Bright, North Avoca

Essential housing over heritage

The decision of the planning department to prevent Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council developing the Lizard Rock site is nothing short of institutionalised racism, and underscores the arrogance of white privilege in this country (“Lawyers called in over housing stoush”, March 9). Aboriginal people in NSW have been denied access to economic development and wealth creation for more than 200 years. Yet, non-Aboriginal people have thrived and transferred intergenerational wealth derived from stolen lands. This case of NIMBYism is fuelled by the latent racism that pervades the institutions charged with balancing the economic, environmental and social outcomes from development across the state. To deny Aboriginal organisations these opportunities to move towards economic independence, no matter how much they might affect non-Aboriginal sensitivities around bushlands, is racist and needs to be called out for what it is by all Australians. Chris Andrew, Turramurra

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Diversion in detail

As we head towards the Voice referendum, I can’t help wondering if those demanding more detail and structure, have actually sat down and read The Uluru Statement (“Greens say more detail on Voice to parliament needed”, March 9). It is a voice asking for recognition in the history and constitution of our country, a voice asking for recognition and acceptance. The referendum is just taking the first step, do we in fact want to give them this recognition, yes or no. Hopefully, when we get a resounding “Yes” then the First Nations People, the governments of the day and eventually the whole electorate can sit down and work out how the listening may be best done.

All the red herrings of “why, how and when” beforehand give the impression that for political and other reasons, some people are really finding it hard to accept the premise of the first and basic concept. Brian Collins, Cronulla

The growing calls for more detail on the referendum is breaking my heart. The referendum is a vote on the fair go. The details of a fair go : everyone, everywhere, all the time, without a grudge, without a frown. There is no other detail to speak of. It is not about the number of payroll clerks, the colour scheme in the waiting room, the music in the lift, the water views from some posh office block.

We have been invited by the wronged to live the best tomorrow. The only other detail we need is the collapse date for the Coalition given their savage addiction to irrelevance. David Gunter, Sydney

Gus off the mark

Peter FitzSimons is right when he highlights the commentary that Phil Gould is making about the risks associated with concussion (“I respect Gus, but he’s stuck in the past when it comes to concussion”, March 9). Perhaps the most egregious error that Gould makes is when he likens head trauma to the debate around climate change. Head injury relies on unchallengeable data obtained from direct observation. Brain scans that reveal traumatic injury are not the result of hypothesising or modelling. By contrast, the dangers relating to climate change are predictive based on the best statistical analysis of trends that allow for modelling rather than directly observed contemporary data, although there is plenty of that available. To suggest that climate science is the same as neuroscience is dangerous. Gould concluded by lamenting the end of heavy-body contact sport. Whatever it takes – the quality and length of human life is threatened. Trevor Somerville, Illawong

Keep public servants

The election promises from both Labor and the Coalition to reduce the number of senior public servants appears to be more about exercising control over the public service than saving money (Letters, March 9). If senior bureaucrats know they have no job security, then they are always going to have in the back of their minds what they need to do to keep their political masters happy. To see how this can play out, we need look no further than the robo-debt royal commission. John Croker, Woonona

Service v profits

I don’t know about banks finding their social conscience but could the Commonwealth Bank use some of its massive profits to fund a few more people to answer phone inquiries (Letters, March 9)?
I rang the Commonwealth bank with a simple inquiry which their website could not answer. I was told the wait time was 30 minutes. The woman said I could ring back at a less busy time which I did. The wait time then was 28 minutes. Perhaps if he reads this letter the CEO might give me a ring back. Judith Fleming, Sawtell

Survival over slashing

I support Australia’s cricket Test captain Steve Smith criticising Matthew Hayden (“Smith hits Hayden’s ‘un-Australian’ Handscomb jibe”, March 9). Peter Handscomb batted sensibly against India’s master spinners on dizzily spinning pitches, scoring 128 runs at 32.00. Face it Hayden, each of the three five-day Tests finished in three days. Where was the hurry? What’s the point in hitting out on a viciously turning pitch? I agree that all countries tend to prepare pitches to suit their bowlers. But to me, India has crossed the limit. About time International Cricket Council supervises pitch preparation in all countries. Kersi Meher-Homji, St Ives

They’re wearing what?

At 80, my sight is beginning fade, but I make a concerted effort to focus on reading the paper. On Thursday, I was interested in an article about raising awareness of skin cancer (“Nurse bares all to raise awareness of skin cancer”, March 9).

In the accompanying photograph, there was something I could interpret as swimmers on a beach. There they were, men and women ready to do their best for a wonderful cause. I couldn’t quite make out what they were wearing, but whatever it was, it sure needed ironing. Paul Hunt, Engadine

Inflation nomads

The blame game for our inflation rate persists, but my travels have uncovered the main problem; grey nomads (Letters, March 9). Every restaurant, bar, cinema and tourist spot is littered with us, spending our money in places we were encouraged to visit after the fires and the floods. The locals are happy, but clearly we are spending too much, thus fuelling inflation. Tom Meakin, Port Macquarie

Accounting error

Another 1960s reality: I well recall opening my first pay packet and sharing the contents excitedly with my fellow young co-workers (Letters, March 9). All the males had higher numbers than we females. I went straight to the boss’s office, naively supposing an error, and was told in all seriousness that the boys needed the extra for their cigarettes. Anne Garvan, Chatswood West

Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in the upcoming <i>Barbie</i> film.

Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in the upcoming <i>Barbie</i> film.Credit:AP

Hot-pink future

I was so appreciative of Cherie Gilmour’s article on Barbie; gosh I laughed (“Barbie, the hot-pink line between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots”’, March 9). The front page filled me with doom and gloom but ironically the Barbie world brought me back to reality. I imagined the Barbies getting AI and taking over the world; better than China. Heather Lindsay, Woonona

Amateur response

Is that supposed to be comforting for the affected customers (“Hacker was no amateur, chief of Optus maintains”, March 9)? Mustafa Erem, Terrigal

BYO crowning

If the Tuckers score an invite to the coronation I’ll give them something to put in the tucker box as a gift (Letters, March 7). It might be a “bring a plate” function. Bernie Carberry, Connells Point

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Voters show signs of an attitude reset – the system needs to catch up
From martinlloyd211: ″⁣The Coalition’s opposition to the super tax change is Dutton’s modus operandi – oppose everything the government puts forward in a desperate bid to remain relevant. Unfortunately for them, it’s having the opposite effect.″⁣

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Justin Scacco

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