Thursday, June 30, 2011

Altona Central Sports Precinct Plan 2011-2031

The Altona Central Sports Precinct is an area of about 141.6 hectares, comprising Grant Reserve, G. Nevitt Reserve, H.C. Kim Reserve, Fell Reserve, Cherry Lake and Cherry Lake Reserve. These reserves and the land south of Cherry Lake are managed by Hobsons Bay City Council while Melbourne Water manages the land north of Cherry Lake.

This precinct is a major sport and recreation site in Hobsons Bay, being home to some 11 sport and recreation groups, a monthly market and an annual community festival. In consultations with local community groups, Hobsons Bay City Council has come up with a proposed blueprint to develop this precinct for the next 20 years. The draft plans can be downloaded from the Council's webpage. The hardcopy can be viewed at Hobsons Bay Civic Centre and Altona Library. This plan is open to public feedback until Friday 29th July 2011.

I have prepared an embedded map below, which shows a synopsis of the proposed developments. Click here to view a larger map, with an itemized list on a left panel. Click each icon to read the project details and timeline. Meaningful symbols are used for the icons e.g. a walking man to show new walk paths, a tree for tree-planting sites and a lamp-post to indicate proposed lighting.

Note: There are some bugs in scribblemaps, which rendered the text formatting and bulleting missing/different from the parent Google Maps version.

View Larger Map

General improvements applicable to various areas within the Precinct include:
  • Tree planting and landscaping (represented by green patches in the above map).
  • Security and timed lighting.
  • New walk paths and connections between trails/reserves (shown as yellow dotted lines).
  • Formalizing and adding more car parking spaces.
  • Distance markers and interpretive signage on wildlife, vegetation and history, along the Cherry Lake circuit path.
  • Safety barriers and adding/upgrading fencing.
  • Road improvement.

The projects are divided into 3 implementation phases: short-term (implemented within 1-4 years), medium-term (4-10 years) and long-term (11-20 years). Within each phase, each project is further rated as a first, second or third priority.

Those projects accorded higher priorities are mainly those intended to address the specific needs of the various sports clubs such as the upgrading of sports facilities, including sports grounds, buildings (club-houses/pavilions/halls) and spectator seating.

What I find more exciting however are those proposals that are accorded lower priorities, presumably because they are more dispensable. These include:
  • a cafe at Cherry Lake.
  • a jetty and ramp for non-powered boats.
  • a new wetland (no timeline has been provided in this plan).
  • a viewing platform on top of mound/levee wall, overlooking Cherry Lake (apparently my thoughts were not unique - see post).
  • two granitic sand running tracks, on the northern and southern bank of Cherry Lake, with fitness stations along the track for the one on the southern side (represented as red dotted lines in the map above).
  • 5 recreational areas/playgrounds - 3 new ones (at Millers Street, end of Sugargum Drive and corner of Sugargum Drive/Bluegum Drive), 2 upgraded ones (at Fresno Street and the current playground).

I could not help wishing that these improvements will be brought forward much earlier. 11-20 years is after all a very long waiting time. I suppose that these projects need to be prioritized, based on budgetary constraints. If a new train line is long overdue in Melbourne, this plan represents visions. The incremental improvements in Altona will be considered achievements and something to be proud of.

Adding my wishlist items:
  • Altona Beach has the Seaborn sculpture, Altona Coastal Park has the "Requiem of the Champions" sculpture, Truganina Park has the Time Beacon and Pier Street has its murals. As the gateway to Altona, Cherry Lake definitely deserves its own signature sculpture along the Millers Street frontage to welcome visitors to Altona.
  • It will be lovely to have an area of Cherry Blossoms and fabricate a local legend although I know the Lake's name is derived from the Cherry family.
  • Sources of water pollution should be addressed and monitored to ensure high water quality at Cherry Lake, Cherry Creek and the surrounding wetlands.
  • I will love to see a sustainable ecosystem garden, making use of renewable energy sources and rainwater/stormwater recycling and using commensal plants and animals (wormfarms, fish, insects, birds).
  • Promote this new precinct together with other Altona attractions, as a tourist destination. Places like Williamstown, Werribee, Newport, Point Cook, Yarraville and Footscray appear in tourism brochures. Unfortunately, Altona is not mentioned in most of these brochures despite its rich natural and cultural assets.
  • Cherry Lake Reserve is an ideal venue for group exercises such as morning Tai'Chi. More can be done to encourage artists, photographers, filmers and event organizers to capture and make use of the beauty of Cherry Lake and its surroundings.
  • As there are so many Sports Clubs and facilities in Altona, consider an annual Altona Sports Day/Weekend event, in which teams from other parts of Melbourne will be invited to participate and compete.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Laverton Carpark Complex

I was at Laverton train station on numerous occasions, either intentionally or by accident. My home station is Westona, which is one station east of Laverton. Whenever the city-bound train was cancelled, I would take a train from Westona to Laverton and may be lucky enough to catch an express train from Laverton. This will be much faster than waiting for the next available train to arrive at Westona. I had also on several occasions boarded the wrong Werribee train that run express from Newport to Laverton. Sometimes it was the "correct train" that decided to skip the Altona Loop.

I am always amazed by the monumental carpark at Laverton station and the time it will take to walk from one end of the carpark to the other. Laverton is a very busy station, serving not only the residents of the neighbouring suburbs of Laverton, Altona Meadows, Seabrook and Point Cook but also has catchment that extends as far as Williams Landing, Truganina, Hoppers Crossing and Werribee. There are good reasons why Laverton is so popular. Aircraft station, which is just one station further from Laverton and very close to Laverton, receives far less patronage. It is in fact underutilized. One would find this phenomenon to be very strange as cars coming from Point Cook Road via the overhead bridge across Princes Freeway/M1 will reach Aircraft first. Why do people desert the closer Aircraft station for the more distant Laverton station? This is because Laverton is the last Zone 1 station on the Werribee line. Since people need to drive anyway for a considerable distance to reach a train station, they reckon they may as well drive a bit further to take advantage of a lower train fare.

After the Altona area, the train track stops running through the population centre of the residential areas, with the train stations mostly located near the periphery. For example in Hoppers Crossing, all the houses are located north of the train line and station. Only a small proportion of houses are within walking distance of Hoppers Crossing station, requiring driving to the station for the majority of commuters. You may wonder why did the residences develop so asymmetrically and not around the train station, which will be a better urban design. One possible reason is that the Princes Freeway/Highway was built very near and parallel to the train track. This had taken away land close to the train track that could be used for residential development. This resulted in housing concentrated on one side of the rail and M1 forming a physical barrier between the train station and houses located south of M1.

The Hobsons Bay Leader reported that based on Metro's latest estimate, about 4500 people use Laverton daily but there are only 580 carpark spaces available, which get filled up by 7.30 am, forcing latecomers to park up to 1.5 km away, often illegally or unsafely (Ref 1). Parking has worsened in recent weeks and this has prompted a resident to advertise parking for rent on his property (Ref 2). How could the shortage of parking spaces at Laverton be addressed and what would the opening of the new Williams Landing station in 2013 entail?

The most obvious solution is to tackle the root of the problem - Laverton being the last Zone 1 station on the Werribee line. The Hobsons Bay City Council had requested for Zone 1 to be extended beyond Laverton but this was rejected by the State Government (Ref 1). Allowing this arrangement will firstly cut the revenues of Metro and secondly will set a precedent for other parts of Melbourne's train network. The second option is to remove Laverton's status as a Zone 1 station. In this scenario, the limited number of car park spaces at Altona Loop stations will prevent the migration of commuters from Laverton to the Altona Loop. However, this option is highly unlikely as this will infuriate the commuters and incur too much political risk. The most probable option is to build more and more parking spaces at Laverton. However, this option too carries a risk.

The new Williams Landing station puts yet an unknown factor into the equation. We know that commuters are deserting the nearer Aircraft station in favour of Laverton. Will the same situation happen to Williams Landing, making it a white elephant? Will the new station be used by only those residing within walking distance? After all, driving makes the distance appears shorter. If you need to drive a considerable distance anyway, will you be tempted to drive a bit further? Building more car park spaces at Laverton will have the effect of encouraging more people to use it as people do not need to worry that they will be turned away by lack of parking spaces.

There are worries that the under-utilized Aircraft station will be closed when the Williams Landing station, which is only 1 km away, is opened. The 37 traders along Aviation Road in particular fear that their business will be affected or wind up if Aircraft is shut. Terry Mulder had made an election promise to keep Aircraft open while in opposition as the spokesman on transport (Ref 3). Hence, unless he breaks his promise, we will continue to see Aircraft in operation while under the Liberal government.

Both Laverton and the new Williams Landing station do not have ramp access but Aircraft station has one. When the lifts break down at Laverton, passengers who cannot climb the steep stairs are told to catch the next train to Aircraft, where Metro provides a free taxi back to Laverton (Ref 3). This arrangement is going to change if Aircraft is closed down. The next closest train station to Laverton with ramp access will then be Westona. Apart from accessibility issues, it is also unusual that Laverton station is not served by a nearby shopping strip, despite its high human traffic. Many commuters will definitely appreciate the conveniences of having a warm morning coffee before rushing to work, a takeaway meal or doing some grocery shopping on the way back home.

There is actually another way to solve the parking shortage problem at Laverton or at any terminal Zone 1 train station. However, this solution that I will be describing will be highly unlikely in the near future for it requires a complete overhaul of the current fare structure. Melbourne is divided into Zone 1 and 2 areas, where Zone 2 areas are further away from the CBD so the commuters pay a higher public transport fare to get to the CBD. This is not a very equitable system as inevitably some passengers are subsidizing the commuting costs of others. Commuters using the last Zone 1 train station and the first Zone 2 station pay vastly different fares though the two stations may be located not far from each other. A fairer system will be to pay the fares according to the commuting distance. In other words, do away with Zone 1 and 2 and make fares distance-dependent. Under this new system, commuters will only pay slightly more if they go to Aircraft rather than Laverton. The change means that it will not be possible to have fixed-value two-hour, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly tickets. Commuters can no longer travel an unlimited number of times on a single ticket within its duration. As the train operator will be charging per trip rather than per ticket, it will be unfair to charge the current rate, which would have factored in multiple trips per ticket. For the majority of commuters who use public transport twice a day (to and from work), their fares will be reduced. This will change the way people travel, such as promoting more local trips and reducing unnecessary multiple and long-distance trips. This system represents a major change and thus a great challenge as it not only involves a change of travel mentality but also large-scale infrastructure investments such as the installation of fast and reliable ticket gantries and validators at all stations. The benefits will however be huge. There will be systemic elimination of fare evasion, which removes the need for ticket inspectors and assures the reliability of fare collection.

I had observed the following phenomenon in Singapore. Walk paths were created over lawns by pedestrians who habitually used these paths as shortcuts rather than the longer cemented walkways. So what did the government do? Instead of erecting barriers, the government chose to cement these paths. It is far more efficient and effective to go along with human natural behaviours and tendencies than to impose some artificial control measures. Obviously, the parking problem at Laverton arises as a result of a fundamental flaw in the ticketing system as no people will choose to travel further away to catch a train. The most effective way to deal with this problem is to tackle this flaw. Building more parking spaces is treating the symptoms and not the underlying cause, akin to a painkiller relieving the pains but not eradicating the disease.

Have your say and cast your vote in the following poll:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Safe

I had attended a number of the Altona Loop community meetings. The consensus from these meetings is that the problem can only be solved through a political solution. Even the public transport experts came to these conclusions.

A long-time Altona resident lamented that Altona has been traditionally a very safe Labor seat, so safe that it has become a liability. The Labor Party feels it will not lose the seat while the Liberal Party does not even bother to court the Altona voters, knowing that it will not capture the seat. The result is years of neglect to the electorate by the Labor state government and things getting worse when the Liberals assumed office.

In most democracies (including Victoria), the campaign resources are focused on the marginal or swing seats which require a smaller swing to change hands. The voters in these marginal seats stand to gain the most as they are usually given more election promises compared to others since their votes are crucial in deciding which party wins the election. Even if the seat eventually ends up with the unelected party, these voters are not forgotten by the party that has assumed government since the marginal seat can easily change hands at the next election.

I have recently come across the term "pork barrelling" in the newspapers. It refers to government spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support such as votes. The benefits are concentrated in a particular area but the costs are spread among all taxpayers. The most recently reported case of pork-barrelling is the multi-million dollars replacement of the New Street level crossing in Brighton by a car underpass, despite it being ranked No. 223 in priority by a 2008 government-funded survey, the Australian Level Crossings Assessment Model report (Ref 1, 2). The decision to move the upgrading of the Brighton's level crossing to the top of the queue was made so that the Tourism Minister Louise Asher could keep her election promise to her Brighton constituents. Another suggestion of pork-barrelling is the priortized rollout of the National Broadbank Network to the residents of Armidale, New South Wales - the electorate of Tony Windsor, the Independent who had backed the Gillard government (Ref 3). It appears that pork-barrelling is legitimate, though it is being frowned upon by most, including business and industry groups (Ref 4).

An unconventional way out of the conundrum of being a safe seat is to perhaps turn Altona into an unpredictable marginal seat so that Altona voters will not be taken lightly. I had jested that perhaps half of a family could vote for one major party and the other half could vote for the other major party. If every family is doing this, this will lead to a 50:50 deadlock situation. This suggestion was quickly dismissed, as voters should be encouraged to vote for the politician that could do the most, that is, bring the best possible outcome for the constituency. Voters should judge each politician not only on election promises but also on his/her past track records to determine if the promises are genuine and would be delivered. I agree that ideally this should be the case as the most hardworking politician should be duly rewarded. However, this does not usually work in reality and this is a shortcoming of democracy that I hope will be eventually be addressed by the future evolution of the political system.

It was learnt from the Altona Loop community meetings that though Altona is deemed a very safe Labour seat (Lower House), the Upper House is subjected to much more volatility and uncertainty so it is a more competitive battlefield, with no party guaranteed to hold on to their incumbent seats. Although the next state election is still more than 3 years away (on Sat 29 Nov 2014), it appears that some Altona residents have already started forming opinions of their representatives now, yes NOW!

Click here to read more about the Federal, State and LGA electorate system.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Picnic @ Parliament

In the 1967 novel "Picnic at Hanging Rock" by the Australian author Joan Lindsay, a group of school girls and a teacher mysteriously vanished after an excursion to Hanging Rock, located 70 km northwest of Melbourne, near Mount Macedon. The residents and friends of Altona had organized a special picnic a few days ago on the 16th of June 2011, not to country Victoria, but to Parliament House, smack in the centre of Melbourne and the epicentre of Victorian policy-making.

On the steps of Parliament House, not less than 100 people congregated in solidarity to show their disapproval of the worsening interpeak train services in Altona resulting from the timetable change introduced in May. There were elderly people, students, people in wheelchairs and people with prams - the segments of the Altona population most vulnerable to train service cuts.

Picnic @ Parliament 01

Red is the colour of the day. It has been decided that the group would wear red wigs, in honour of Julia Gillard, the most eminent resident of Altona. This must be a rare and spectacular sight as you will not often see so many people donning red hairs in front of Parliament House. Daniel Bowen, the President of the PTUA (Public Transport User Association) lamented that while many journalists were nearby, most of them were preoccupied with the announcement of Simon Overland's resignation from his position as the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police and hence, unfortunately did not cover this mass rally.

Picnic @ Parliament 03

Why did I start the post with the "Picnic at Hanging Rock"? Like the "Picnic at Hanging Rock", something were also missing from the plot. Make a guess.

Well, there is actually more than one thing missing. First, the trains had mysteriously "disappeared". A signalling problem had occurred at Seaholme in the early morning, resulting in suspension of train services from the Altona Loop until midday. This had however not thwarted the determination of the Altona protesters in making their presence felt at Parliament House. They overcame all hurdles, made their journey on bus and other transport and eventually arrived at Parliament House punctually. I learnt from one Altona commuter that no replacement buses were arranged at Seaholme (second thing that was missing) and there was no announcement whatsoever (third thing missing). Another Altona resident recounted her trying journey experience - she had to return home to drive to Williamstown to catch a train from there as she found that was no parking lot at Newport or Spotswood.

Picnic @ Parliament 04

A room at Parliament House was booked for the Picnic. All Members of Parliament for the western region and the Transport Minister were invited to this meeting. However, only 3 MPs had turned up - Colleen Hartland, Jill Hennessy and Wade Noonan. For the other MPs, the Altona Community can only be contented with the empty name-tagged chairs that were reserved for them (the last but most important missing parts). There were touching speeches from those who lived through the experience of the first month. Regrettably the story ended on an incomplete note with the key characters missing in action. But life is such. I had a bite on the sandwich before I left the venue (just in case the readers may be interested in knowing whether this is a real picnic or not.........)

PS. My wife is helping her friend to sell hair extensions on eBay. On hindsight, I should have told her to order more red.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How does Australia measure up?

The Economist lauded Australia in a recent report as the next Golden State whose resource boom and sound economic management will ensure its prosperity for a considerable period of time. When I last returned to Singapore, I was asked a question by a university professor who had supervised me and whom I have maintained contact with over the years. He asked in what ways was Australia better than Singapore as he was skeptical about the choice of people migrating from Singapore to Australia. Indeed, there are many Asians who were attracted to Australia but eventually returned to their home countries after failing to obtain good employment in Australia.

I feel that Australia and Singapore both have positive and negative points, with regards to settling down. However, I have not seriously thought about how Australia measures up in various areas relative to other countries. Whenever Singapore scores highly in some global rankings, these news will always be prominently reported by the Singapore's media. I hardly come across reporting of Australia's ranking here so I thought it may be worthwhile to do some online research in this area.

I have compiled five tables below, showing various indicators (economic, social, political, etc), the assessing body, the year of assessment, Australia's rank/score and the top-ranking country. I came from Singapore and naturally have an interest in knowing how Singapore fares relative to other nations so I have also included Singapore's rankings for the various measures. I have provided hyperlinks and references so you can click them to find the rank and score for any country. Australia's rank and score for the previous assessment year is also provided, for comparison against the current assessment. The legend at the end of this post displays the ranking organizations and their abbreviations.

So what do I learn from these statistics? Australia performs pretty well, especially relative to other OECD countries. However, for most measures, it is not among the cream of the crop in the top elite group of countries. This sentiment of "falling short" or "not excellent enough" was expressed by the Economist in the same report: "Some Australians talk big but actually think small......All these (plans) are under way, but few are surging ahead. Though the country’s best-known building is an opera house, for example, the arts have yet to receive as much official patronage as they deserve.....Australia’s universities, like its wine, are decent and dependable, but seldom excellent."

It is interesting to note that the northern European countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Ireland) and alpine countries (Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) feature prominently in many indicators. They are all temperate countries with beautiful landscapes and most are sparsely populated. I do not know if the climate contributes to their high rankings. The notable exceptions to this "rule" are Singapore, Hong Kong and Qatar, all characterized by being small, fast-pace, competitive, highly-adaptive, resilient and with uncomfortable temperatures.

Australia performs extremely well for the Human Development Index HDI (ranked second), Education Index 2007 (1st), World Giving Index (1st), Legatum Prosperity Index (4th), Quality of Life Index 2005 (6th) and Democracy Index (6th).

I am very surprised that Singapore was ranked 52nd for the Education Index in 2007 and 92th in 2006. This is somewhat strange as some inconspicuous countries such as Barbados (16th), Kazakhstan (23rd) and Guyana (39th) were ranked much ahead of Singapore. I can accept the possibility that the older Singaporeans may have received less education due to Singapore achieving its prosperity within 1-2 generations. However, its extremely low ranking still runs against my ingrained knowledge of the importance that Singapore attaches to education. For instance, the National University of Singapore was ranked 34th, higher than the University of Melbourne (ranked 36th), the top ranking Australian university in the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Singapore students also excelled in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), having achieved second in Mathematics, fourth in Science and fifth in Reading. This anomaly makes me skeptical of the underlying methodology and criteria used. As the Education Index forms part of the HDI in 2007, this inevitably leads me to question the reliability of the HDI.

Australians are people of great generosity, as seen by its number one place in the World Giving Index. In contrast, Singapore ranks towards the bottom at 91th place, despite several high-profile televised charities fundraising events each year. It is notable that Singapore fares poorly for the Democracy and Press Freedom Index, presumably because the ruling politicians have deemed the western models of democracy to be unsuitable for Singapore.

In a recent interview with the Age, James Packer said that Australia is targeting the wrong segment of the tourist market, that is, the faraway European and American backpackers on a shoestring budget. Australia should rather be aiming for the affluent, rising, high-spending and geographically-closer middle-class Asian market. According to the latest World Economic Forum figures, Australia's global ranking in travel and tourism competitiveness has dived from 4th place in 2008 to 13th place in 2011 while Singapore has moved up from 16th place to 10th over the same period. Singapore is on target to reach $S30 billion ($A22.75 billion) revenue and 17 million visitors by 2015. Australia apparently has fallen behind its competitors in what it is able to offer to tourists in terms of attractions, infrastructure and services.

Australia's rankings also appear to have slipped for most other indicators (red for decline, blue for gain in ranking). This resonates with the advice of caution against complacency given in another recent Economist report: "this era of prosperity and self-confidence should be a good time for Australians to take stock and confront any problems. On the face of it, their troubles are few: in 20 years of radical change all the obvious economic issues have been dealt with. Things are good, and the beach beckons. Certainly, the politicians seem unworried. Though they talk of reform, they spend most of their time scrapping about issues like climate change. A slight whiff of complacency pervades the groves of the capital, Canberra. That in itself should be a warning. "

I will attempt to discuss about Australia's economy in a separate post.

Table 1: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and GDP per capita

MeasuresPubPublisherYearRank (Score)No. 1 Country (Score)Singapore's Rank (Score)
GDP (Nominal) per capita


GDP (Nominal) per capitaRefWorld Bank200916
GDP (Nominal) per capitaRefCIA2000-20106
GDP (PPP) per capita
GDP (PPP) per capitaRefWorld Bank200912
GDP (PPP) per capitaRefCIA201011
GDP (Nominal)RefIMF201013


GDP (Nominal)RefWorld Bank200913


GDP (Nominal)RefCIA201013


GDP (PPP)RefIMF201017


GDP (PPP)RefWorld Bank200917


GDP (PPP)RefCIA201017



Table 2: Economic Indicators

MeasuresPubPublisherYearRank (Score)Previous Assessment Year RankNo. 1 Country (Score)Singapore's Rank (Score)
Global Competitiveness IndexRefWEF2010-2011


Ease of Doing Business IndexRefWorld Bank2011109Singapore1
Index of Economic FreedomRefHeritage Foundation&WSJ20113

Hong Kong


Economic Freedom of the WorldRefFraser Instittute20088

Hong Kong

Globalization IndexRefKOF





Globalization IndexRefA.T.Kearney2007138Singapore
Economic GlobalizationRefKOF



Global Enabling Trade IndexRefWEF201015
Travel &Tourism Competitiveness IndexRefWEF201113

International Tourists ArrivalsRefUNWTO200940


International Tourism ReceiptsRefUNWTO20098



Table 3: Education, Technology and Innovation Indicators

MeasuresPubPublisherYearRank (Score)Previous Assessment Year RankNo. 1 Country (Score)Singapore's Rank (Score)
Global Innovation IndexRefBCG, NAM & MI200822

Global Innovation IndexRefINSEAD2009-201018

Patents in forceRefWIPO200813

Patents grantedRefWIPO200815

Patents appliedRefWIPO200814

Education IndexRefUNDP20071
5 countries
Student Assessment (Maths)RefPISA2009


Shanghai, China

Student Assessment (Science)RefPISA2009


Shanghai, China
Student Assessment (Reading)RefPISA20099
Shanghai, China

Table 4: Social, Development, Liveability and Environment Indicators

MeasuresPubPublisherYearRank (Score)Previous Assessment Year RankNo. 1 Country (Score)Singapore's Rank (Score)
Human Development IndexRefUNDP20102
Global Gender Gap IndexRefWEF2010


Social GlobalizationRefKOF



Legatum Prosperity IndexRefLegatum20104
Quality-of-life indexRefEIU20056

Satisfaction with Life IndexRefAdrian White200626

World Giving IndexRefCharities Aid Foundation2010


Environmental Performance IndexRefYale & Columbia University201051
CO2 emissionRefCDIAC200715


Table 5: Political and Governance Indicators

MeasuresPubPublisherYearRank (Score)Previous Assessment Year RankNo. 1 Country (Score)Singapore's Rank (Score)
Composite Index of National CapabilityRefJ. David Singer200728

Corruption Perceptions IndexRefTI20108
Denmark, NZ, Sin
Democracy IndexRefEIU20106

Press Freedom IndexRefReporters without Borders2010


6 countries
Political GlobalizationRefKOF





Global Peace IndexRefIEP201118


  • BCG = Boston Consulting Group
  • CDIAC = Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center
  • CIA = Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook
  • IEP = Institute for Economics and Peace
  • EIU = Economist Intelligence Unit
  • MI = The Manufacturing Institute
  • NAM = National Association of Manufacturers
  • PISA = Programme for International Student Assessment
  • PPP =Purchasing Power Parity
  • T1 = Transparency International
  • UNDP = United Nations Development Programme
  • UNWTO = United Nations World Tourism Organization
  • WEF = World Economic Forum
  • WIPO = World Intellectual Property Organization
  • WSJ = The Wall Street Journal

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Date with the MPs - 16th June 2011

Book your lunch date with the MPs on the 16th of June 2011. Read more ......

regarding this email from Colleen Hartland:

Three weeks into the new train timetable and any claims that initial problems were just 'teething problems' have been proven wrong - the Altona Loop train service is unacceptably poor- the community deserves better!

The community needs improved public transport services, not cuts. This can be delivered by duplicating the single train track.

RMIT Transport Expert, Dr Paul Mees, says "The existing reservation is easily wide enough for two tracks. This would be a very minor engineering project, with a cost around 1% that of the Regional Rail Link". This would allow a train to travel every 10 minutes, making it a reliable, efficient and attractive public transport service.

1. Stand up for Altona Loop - rally & lunchtime forum!
Altona Loop residents and supporters are invited to join us at Parliament House for a rally, followed by a lunchtime forum inside parliament with all MPs invited to attend. Join us on your lunchbreak or on the train from Altona station at 11:32 (Westona 11:30, Seaholme 11:34). See the end of this email for the event invitation or click here.

The community is going direct to Parliament, presenting our stories of how the train cuts and poor service are impacting our lives, and requesting the return of train our services, with improvements.

1. Rally - 12:30pm Parliament House steps, Spring Street. Join us in your lunch break or on the 11:32am train from Altona Station.
The Altona Loop Residents Group will hold a bright and visible rally outside parliament house. Red wigs will be worn in honour of the eminent Altona resident Julia Gillard - I guarantee she would not put up with 6 trains per day to get to the city and home!

2. Lunchtime Forum inside parliament house - 1pm
I will host a lunchtime forum in parliament house for Altona Loop residents. The Altona Loop community will present to members of parliament. Every member of parliament will receive an invitation to attend.

3. Delivering our stories
Stories of how the train cuts are impacting the lives of residents have been collected and compiled. A copy of these will be delivered to every member of parliament together with the invitation to the lunchtime forum at parliament.

2. Altona Loop in Parliament
I raised concerns in parliament about the impact the trains cuts are having on seniors. The example I used on this occasion was the Finnish Friendly Visiting Service in Altona. Read here - 'Seniors hit hard by Altona Loop train cuts'.

3. Next Altona Loop Group residents meeting - 7:30pm, Thursday 23rd June 2011.

4. Other Transport Campaign Activities
I continue to work on transport issues in the West. In addition to Altona Loop and improving public transport across the West, I focus on the problem of our residential streets being clogged with dangerous and polluting trucks. Some local residents have 5,000 trucks past their front door every day!

In parliament I called on the government to prevent the forecasted doubling of truck traffic by 2020 by immediately producing a freight logistics plan that puts freight on rail and reduces the number of trucks on western suburbs streets. Read the parliament speech here: 'Trucks off our streets - freight on rail'

The solution to getting trucks off our streets is to move freight onto rail and to implement the Truck Action Plan - Labor failed to do both of these in their 11 years of government and each year the number of trucks on our streets increased. Read my media release here: Labor's truck leaflet misleads community - Greens

The Greens have been the only consistent advocates for freight on rail and I've been on the barricades with the community from the start. Rather than carping from the sidelines I'll be working with the community, local councils and the liberal government to make rail freight a real priority.

REMEMBER - Make sure you tell your friends, write to the Minister, share on Facebook, come along to the Rally and Lunchtime Forum at parliament - 12:30pm Thursday 16th June.

The community campaign to date has been strong and visible:
  • I have now tabled 2,000 petition signatures in the Parliament and more continue to come in.
  • Hundreds have written directly to the Premier, Minister for Public Transport and the two government MLCs.
  • 250 residents attended the first community meeting, and 500 the second community meeting and the regular Altona Loop Group's residents meetings have been well attended with between 30 - 50 people at each.
  • Community actions have been well attended and have received a lot of attention from the media: snap protest at the release of the proposed timetable, the rally at the minister's office and the rolling protest on Monday 9 May. Photos can be viewed here.
We're going to continue to take action! It's time to invest in the West - no more neglect.


Colleen Hartland
Stand up for Altona Altona Loop rally & lunchtime forum invitation

Greens MLC for Western Metropolitan Region
Ph: 9689 6373