Railway works

I see that there’s going to a complete closure of the railway line through our suburb for a week in January.   I know that this has happened on other lines, but because we’re not too far from the city and there are 4 tracks, we’re accustomed, when works are occurring, for one pair of lines to continue to operate.  However, on this occasion, it seems there are going to be big electrical works at Caulfield, so presumably there’s little alternative?

Signage at station

There are signs around as well as information on the internet (and here) stating that there’s going to a be a total closure.     Amongst other “issues”,  I notice that the replacement buses from Flinders Street station operate from way down St Kilda Rd, in front of the Arts Centre, and that if you want to go to a loop station, you’ll have to take a train from Flinders Street.

And from reading Daniel Bowen’s blog, when a similar massive closure occurred on the lines through Camberwell, there were plenty of hitches with the replacement bus services.

It sounds that this week will be a good time to avoid the trains!


(Left - looks as tough some materials for use during the works have already been pre-placed)


Banks aren’t very popular in our community.  They’re fending off calls for a Royal Commission, with the media drawing attention to instances of mis-selling of products and alleged bad conduct with the fixing of interest rates.  And staff lay-offs don’t help, even if the need for them is accepted.

But, for many of us, issues with banks are closer to hand…such as service at local branches.   Sure, maybe this isn’t an issue that any Royal Commission would address except, maybe, in that it might be thought to be related to the  perceived existence of a “cultural problem” at the banks.

Be that as it may, what has inspired this rant is that the local CBA branch has moved across the street, into newly refurbished premises.



As seems to be usual these days, in the new branch the traditional glass wall in front of the  “tellers” (ooops, sorry,  “customer service officers”) has been replaced with little counters and no visible security barriers.  Is it just a subjective impression, or does it take longer to deal with customers in this environment?  I don’t usually bank at the CBA but I looked in, and the queue seemed longer than usual.    I’m told anecdotally that the new arrangement isn’t popular.  Hardly a positive move in terms of the esteem in which the banks are held around here!

Those street trees

I blogged recently about all the mature melaleucas that were cut down in a nearby street.  Since then massive rebuilding works have been occurring there, first the drains, now the road surface.

Perhaps the trees had to go in order for these works to happen?

Anyway, as part of the works, new trees have been planted – but it will be years before they reach the maturity of the previous melaleucas.

Buying property

There was yet another “successful” auction not far from us recently.  A small place sold for $2 million, an amount that would have been undreamed of only a year or so ago.    Sure, the property had a number of nice characteristics, but still ….

But leaving this aside,  curiosity led me to check the stamp duty that the purchaser will have to pay on this purchase, over and above the purchase price.  It’s $110,000!   Then there are conveyancing expenses and some other fees.  It certainly means that buying a property is not a cheap exercise.

Doing the MyTax tax return

I have become accustomed to the quirks of the “MyTax” tax return website (you get to it via MyGov).   As I’ve said before, it takes a bit of getting used to.  One way of looking at it is that the powers that be have tried to “dumb down” the tax return process so much that it’s actually harder to use than the older electronic eTax site.  Still, in this day and age, perhaps even tax returns have to be able to be handled by an iPhone?

Having said this, my impression is that in some ways, there have been some marginal improvements to the format this year.  For example, there’s now an option to review the form before pressing the “Lodge” button.   However, one thing that did annoy me this year is that some of the pre-filled information arrived very late.    I had been working on and off on my return for a number of weeks, yet in mid-September, another dividend was “pre-filled”.

True, this isn’t the Tax Office’s responsibility, as it can only handle information supplied to it when it arrives.   And the site certainly draws your attention to the fact that new pre-fill information is available, and this year, identifies the particular item as new (I don’t think this occurred last year).

Car recall

We became aware through the news media that our 3+ year old Mazda was subject to a recall.   That was in July.   The issue seems to be with one of the airbags.    Given the number of vehicles having an issue with these airbags, it seems that it took some time for the recall program to get moving and that it had been under way for a while before we became aware of it.

As it happens we received a letter from Mazda confirming the recall, dated 24 August.  True, we didn’t ring the dealer immediately.   But then we received a letter dated 1 September, noting that we hadn’t responded, and suggesting that the replacement should be done urgently!  Given that this issue has been around for some time, this seemed a bit odd.   Do I detect a bit of pressure from the authorities?

But I rang the dealer anyway.   Ah yes, they said, but there’s a minor problem – we’ve run out of the replacement part!   Provide us with your details, and we’ll ring you when more supplies arrive.   So the end of the saga is yet to occur in our case.

And in the meantime, a 3rd letter has arrived from Mazda!    Amazing!

I don’t underestimate the issues that are no doubt involved with such a massive recall.   It does raise the issue, however, whether it’s desirable that the supply of a component should be so concentrated.  This is said to be  the largest recall in history, and the ACCC release (link above) states that 2.3 million vehicles in Australia alone have become subject to the recall. Is there a need to ensure that there’s a greater diversity up the supply line?  And how might this be achieved in our trans-national world?