Thursday, December 1, 2016

Responsibility: It is the Victorian government through VicTrack, a reader says, not the Australian Rail and Track Corporation that manages the north-east  line.
Responsibility: It is the Victorian government through VicTrack, a reader says, not the Australian Rail and Track Corporation that manages the north-east line.

Government in charge

I wish to put out a claim by Bill Tilley about management of the north-east rail line.

While it is true that the Australian Rail Track Corporation has responsibility for managing and maintaining the line, ultimate ownership is the Victorian government through VicTrack. 

That is VicTrack has legal ownership but they lease the track, like a landlord to a rental property, to Public Transport Victoria (PTV), who in turn sub-leases the north-east line to ARTC, with V/Line managing other tracks. 

VicTrack and PTV are both owned and part of the Victorian government. As such, while the Victorian government doesn’t have direct responsibility for managing and maintaining the track, it still has a high level of influence to make sure the track is up to scratch.

I also note that Mr Tilley mentioned that passenger trains don’t really make much money. 

The Farebox Recovery Ratio usually is generally quite low, but that doesn’t mean we should not get the same standards as Melbourne or other regional communities. Other countries usually see partial government financing of passenger rail as a necessary. 

Geoffrey Butt, Wodonga

Students’ visit

I was pleased to welcome Grade 6 students from Victory Lutheran College Wodonga to Parliament House on November 21. 

The students, currently transitioning to Year 7, asked questions about how to improve their community and the role of an elected representative. 

They were excited and optimistic about this new stage of their education. Congratulations and best wishes to them as they continue their studies. 

Visits by schools to Parliament House are always a high point of time in Canberra. Information about making a booking and funding to help with costs can be found at 

Cathy McGowan, Independent member for Indi 

All berries are safe

Recently The Border Mail published an article titled “A berry natural farming method” (November 18).

The article described how a berry grower has reduced the need for pesticides by using integrated pest management, which is control based on pest observation and use of biological methods.

However, in the article the comment “you just can’t have kids eating fruit covered in chemicals” gives a false impression of the safety of fruit sold to the public. Any commercial fruit grower applying pesticide to fruit crops must abide by strict rules. Firstly, the grower must be licensed to use the chemical, they must also keep log books recording any application and most importantly they must abide by what is known as a “withholding period”, which is the time that must elapse between application and harvest.

This period of time is designed to ensure the public is not eating fruit covered in chemicals. To ensure the safety of food, government authorities also sample produce from markets and test them for residues to ensure rules are being observed.

I applaud that Mr Dunnett is using integrated pest management, but I think the article may have left readers with the impression that he is the exception in this regard. Our association has 50 members and the great majority, if not all of them, use integrated pest management. 

Indeed, the techniques used were partly developed and tested by research funded with levies paid by growers. 

These levies are used for research to ensure that strawberries are produced in an environmentally sustainable way and with the minimum possible use of pesticides.

Sam Violi, president, Victorian Strawberry Growers Association