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A FRIEND of mine bought a short wheelbase four-wheel drive recently. He did this because he had measured his garage and realised that if he bought a long wheelbase model, it wouldn’t fit.
He could, of course, have spent more than he paid for the vehicle extending his garage but as it was his own money, he chose a vehicle that matched the dimensions of his garage.
In politics it’s different, as witnessed by the Palaszczuk Government’s decision to send Queensland Rail’s NGR — New Generation — trains to the Downer EDI workshops in Maryborough to have some of their many faults rectified.
By the time the litany of problems plaguing these trains is addressed, they will be OGR — Old Generation trains. This, however, is no one’s fault because the former LNP government says that Labor did it and Labor says — you guessed it.
As politicians never lie, both parties must be right and the ongoing Queensland Rail new train debacle is an act of God. As usual, mugs like you and I get to pick up the tab for monumental bureaucratic and political incompetence.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre) and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad (2nd from left) at the Downer EDI Rail manufacturing plant in Maryborough during the 2017 Queensland Election campaign. Picture: AAP/Darren EnglandThe only problem with sending the trains to Maryborough, however, was that unlike my friend’s four-wheel drive, they didn’t fit in the Downer workshops. Someone in government, who is obviously destined for great things, took the trouble to measure them and found they were too long.
This minor irritation was overcome when the Premier produced the special tape measure that she keeps locked away in the top drawer of her desk.
This is the one used in situations as in Maryborough, when you have a local Labor MP such as Bruce Saunders, who is in danger of losing his seat, and trade unions reminding the Premier where her campaign funds come from at election time.
The special tape was taken to Maryborough where measurements showed the six-carriage trains would fit perfectly — as long as the Government spent $10 million making the sheds longer!
There was also the small matter of upgrading overhead power lines, installing a new section of track, building a new spur line and installing extra cranes and what Saunders describes on his Facebook page as “general infrastructure upgrades to support the rectification work”, all paid for by the taxpayer.
Apart from these niggling issues, which amount to a significant public subsidy to a private company, Downer EDI was the standout candidate for the job.
The company that built the trains, Bombardier, has said that it has the capacity at its Victorian workshops to do the job. This, however, would not please the trade union reps in Maryborough or help Saunders keep his seat on that other piece of government rolling stock, the Political Gravy Train.
Still, all is well that ends well, for while that dreadful Peter Beattie may have blocked her from making a speech at the Commonwealth Games, the Premier had her moment in the sun at the Logies. You and I paid a reported $1.7 million to stage this event. I’m not sure how much per word when measured against the Premier’s speech that represents. I’d need the special calculator she keeps in her top drawer to work that out.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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