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A popular genre of computer game allows players to design and create civilisations from the ground up.
Players build roads, water supplies and industrial precincts. As their cities grow, they attract workers whose taxes fund further building, allowing the player to build wealth, raise armies and conquer the world.
The heart of these games is planning. Players have to make sure their civilisations have the infrastructure necessary to sustain development.
High speed rail down the east coast would completely transform the economies of the regional cities along its route, as it has done in Europe.CREDIT:RAIL EUROPE
If they skimp on roads and water supplies, for example, community sentiment goes sour, residents leave, the civilisation collapses and the player has to start all over again.
Of course, in the real world, it’s not that simple. We can’t just start the game again if we get it wrong.
That’s why it is critical governments ensure that they respond to population growth with commensurate infrastructure investment or risk real damage to our quality of life.
The simple lesson from those computer games is that government must invest adequately to meet the demands of growth with the investment required to deal with its effects.
The current federal government is failing in this task.
Over the five years to 2018, total annual infrastructure investment in this country was down by 17 per cent compared with average levels during the period of the former Labor government.
In the same period, the national population, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, increased by 1.5 million, or 6.5 per cent.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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