Bollards (2)

As I’ve previously blogged, those concrete blocks around the city are very intrusive and have attracted lots of comments.   They appeared on the scene very quickly, so perhaps the design was due to the fact that they had to be hastily prepared.  Or does the cynic in me mutter that their “obviousness” has helped contribute to the feeling that the authorities are “doing something”?

In fact, on a short wall around the city recently, there are already many bollards and the like that we hardly notice (because we’re so used to them) – and more could easily be placed so as to deter vehicles.   There are also  items of street furniture that would be effective.  Perhaps not all of them would be completely stop an extremely determined attacker with a very heavy vehicle – but I suspect that they’d severely hamper all but the most determined “baddies”.

Hopefully, devices such as these will replace those blocks sooner rather than later.


Those concrete bollards being placed around the city are attracting quite a lot of comment.  It’s true that they’re not pretty, and it’s unfortunate that they’re seen to be necessary.  The ones near Fed Square are certainly very “obvious”.   Hopefully they’ll be replaced in the not-so-distant future by something more attractive.  In the meantime, I’m not convinced that the answer is to “decorate” them, as reported on the news.

In Flinders Street, at Fed Square
In Swanston Street, at Fed Square
TV news report of bollards “being decorated”

New financial year

The advent of the new financial year brings with it numerous changes, mostly too boring to blog about.   But one change (perhaps small in the overall scheme of things) is the abolition of “outgoing passenger cards” when departing for overseas.

Last time we left Australia, we placed our completed cards in a big bin.  No-one seemed to care whether we did so or not (but we did), and it seemed most unlikely that anyone ever looked at the completed cards.  So their abolition perhaps means that the bureaucracy is catching up with the reality?


Choice – and “free range” eggs

I still read Choice magazine, although sometimes its passion for causes leaves me a bit cool.   One such cause that Choice has come back to again and again in recent months (and on-line, too) is the matter of “free range” eggs.  They’re upset that eggs can now be labelled (and also see here) as “free range” if the hens are stocked at densities of up to 10,000 per hectare.  Their preferred stocking density is up to 1,500 per hectare – a point that they’ve made a number of times in recent months.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t worthy issues here.  However, all the emphasis on this aspect of egg labelling seems to me to be a bit shrill.   Choice’s concern doesn’t seem to be welfare of the chooks (not a word about the animal welfare aspects of “cage eggs”, or even “barn laid” eggs).   My cynical mind suggests that the real concern is that the density figure adopted has made it possible for large scale producers to get into this segment of the market, presumably at the expense of smaller producers, one of which is actually named in the current issue of the magazine.   But isn’t the real issue whether consumers are properly informed?

I observe that the figure of 10,000 is less that the originally proposed figure of 20,000 that parts of the industry were pushing for and also that if specialist producers really think consumers want eggs laid by hens at the 1,500 density then why don’t those producers promote their eggs on this basis, bearing in mind that all producers of “free range” eggs now have to state the stocking density on the label?   True, it’s apparently open to state “one hen per m²” which may sound better than 10,000 hens per hectare, but surely not a lot turns on this?


Data matching

The Australian Taxation Office is pretty good at matching up the data it receives from various sources to individual taxpayers.  Well, so it ought to be, it’s not rocket science – most of the data they receive presumably comes with tax file numbers.

And sometimes the ATO likes to portray itself as being a little helpful, too.  Hence, I recently received a letter from them drawing attention to the fact that I might be in a zone where I could be affected by the upcoming changes to the superannuation rules.

As it happens, I was already aware of this.   But I couldn’t help wondering why the letter was addressed to our residential address – when we always use a different mailing address (a P O Box) for all our superannuation and ATO correspondence.   Sounds as though there’s room to fine-tune that matching process!

The route 58 tram (3)

There seem to have been some problems with the new route 58 (see earlier comments here and here).   The local paper reported major over-crowding, particularly at the Domain Interchange, where passengers from the city via St Kilda Rd now have to pick up a 58 tram heading down Toorak Rd.

There appears to be some basis for these complaints, as the PTUA has written about the issue.    Certainly, with the route being so long, there would seem to be potential for any delays along it to be magnified.

Also, the point made in the PTUA article about the inadequacy of evening services generally is certainly valid.  We do travel at times quite late in the evenings, and it’s not uncommon on a Friday or Saturday night for trams to be “standing room only” (in fact, congested) down St Kilda Rd.

We have a choice of routes, so the 20 minute frequency on most routes in the evenings isn’t a big issue for us, but it’s demonstrably inadequate – and massively so if there’s been a major event in the city area.  Late evening services certainly seem to be the “poor cousin” when it comes to tram services (especially on Sunday evenings, when it’s a 30 minute frequency).

Shock, horror……

The business pages of the newspaper had an article about the profits tobacco companies are making in the US – illustrated by a picture of naked cigarette packs!    Wow, to think that we in Australia are allowed to see cigarette packets, even if only in a photo!

So politically incorrect.  Maybe another law will have to be passed to protect us from such sights?