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It is an interesting time in Australian Politics. Some may not agree but in my view we are in a period of political wilderness. We struggle as Australians to understand why poor decision making flows from Canberra and the respective state and territory governments around our country.
We struggle to understand why we can't get what we need and why can't we actually get the right projects off the ground, projects which are good for this country.
The answer is of course economic and fiscal rationalism benefiting those organisations who choose to rely upon it. We continue to fall behind the rest of the developed world on many critical issues including infrastructure and education. Organisations and politicians don't always have our best interests at heart.
Australian's are treated with such disrespect by our politicians We are made to feel dumb, we are not listened to, many lack integrity and our views are largely ignored.
Australian's are in favour of a High Speed Rail service between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. There have been polls and we have voted. Perhaps now it is time for a referendum on such an important project?
This is a project we want and it is a project we need. As an Australian I want a high speed rail service. I have travelled overseas and used the equivalent services in Japan mainly. These services are convenient, safe, reliable, time saving and most importantly accessible to many.
Indeed there are councils and local government areas across the proposed route and across routes perhaps not as popular who also see the benefit of making their cities more accessible. Making those regional centres between capital centres is a bonus and further justification for the project. Imagine being able to travel between Albury and Melbourne in under an hour. People would then have a choice on living in an expensive capital city or in a smaller regional centre like Goulburn or Wagga Wagga with the ability to work in a centre like Canberra or Melbourne. The possibilities are vast and the government knows this. Property developers, Business, construction, hobs and ordinary Australian's will all win. Further, our standing in the eyes of the world will also change as we are seen as a more progressive country.
Why then when we review projects like a high speed rail line between our biggest cities we constantly find ourselves arguing over the merit of projects in dollar terms rather than the economic and social benefits of such a project? It comes down to who has what to loose, or gain if you like.
NBN is a good example of a project that when complete the NBN provide enormous benefit to all Australians. I could write all day on the benefits of the NBN as it is game changer. The NBN will encourage business ideas and also drive change in the way services are delivered to us at home. This includes new TV providers and new ways of delivering rich content services to us. The NBN is a nation building project which will benefit all Australian's. If we looked at the financial investment, the numbers are large and for many Australian's too complex. It is a very worthy project. However, there are organisations and interests which will not necessarily benefit from a National Broadband Network. The NBN will open up access to the consumer in a competitive way. You will be able to choose between a number of TV providers for pay content and you will be able to change your internet and phone provider. There are current organisations who will find their business models under competitive threat. Who will win? The consumer.
Just as worthy is the High Speed Rail project along our east coast. However, I don't feel the same NBN vibe when it comes to the HST project which in my view is an essential project for this country. Why? Because it will benefit most Australian's living on the east coast.
Railways need to become more competitive for the travelling dollar, why should we prevent this? Perhaps there are businesses who will not benefit from an efficient and reliable competitive form of transport between our state and territory capitals? High Speed Rail is a convenient form of transport on all other continents globally with the exception of The Great Southern Land being Antarctica. Imagine if you could get between Sydney and Canberra in less than 60 minutes on a Fast Train? Would that be of benefit to you? What if you could take that journey for half the cost of an airline seat? Would that be of interest to you?
Of course, but it is not in the best interests of Qantas, Virgin, Regional Express, The Sydney Airports Corporation, the company which runs the car parking at Sydney Airport, the taxi industry and perhaps others. There are vested interests in maintain and growing the status quo. These interests are seldom aligned with the consumers expectations for a more cost effective or cost efficient competitive service. Competition will see business flow from traditional transport models or services to the new fast rail service and for the right reasons. So why are we being denied this competition?
We have been told from certain groups the project is not viable, too expensive and not required. Really? Says whom? Even on Railpage Australia there has been discussion on the reasons why we should build it and also why we should not. Can we really afford not to open up Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne to 21st century approach to transport options?
Australian's should care about the high speed rail project as it will introduce competition on the route, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a better more reliable service option for all Australians. The cost of this project over the longer term is not excessive, and should not only be measured in fiscal terms, but also in terms of the environmental, economic and social benefits. How much money does aircraft congestion at Sydney Airport cost the Australian economy per annum? Why don't the airlines like to talk about these numbers?
Australian's are sick and tired of the double standards used by Governments to justify projects which have little or no social, environmental and measurable economic benefits. We are treated like mushrooms by governments with their own bankrupt agendas. The approach to rail projects in Victoria under the current government could only be described as a passive disinterested nuisance. An obligation which gets in the way of supporting the road freight lobby.
Let's take the Melbourne East West Road Tunnel as an example. A project which is shrouded in secrecy, poorly planned and of little use to most people in Melbourne, but the current Liberal Government insists on bulldozing this project through the inner northern suburbs. What are the economic, social and environmental benefits of the east - east road tunnel?
Construction of a High Speed Rail Service between Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne will create jobs, provide competition, provide consumer choice, open up regional areas for housing and living and provide considerable long term benefits to the people of this country. It will also place competitive pressure on existing airlines and under-performing 20th century infrastructure providers.
We need to move into the 21st Century in terms of infrastructure and thinking! Bring it on!
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