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After four election victories in a row, the New South Wales Labor Government's 15-year reign is entering a spectacular endgame.
There is an ever-growing whiff of scandal: political donations, corruption findings, sacked ministers and continuous leadership speculation which the Government seems unable to do anything about.
And while the Government tears itself apart, there is chaos on the roads and the city rail network is bursting at the seams.
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia says congestion costs the state economy more than $12 million a day in lost productivity.
One struggling commuter, Adrian Hart from Baulkham Hills in the city's north-west, faces a four-hour journey each day to get to and from his workplace in North Sydney.
The only way Mr Hart can get to work is to catch two buses which are both privately run.
By the time he gets home at night it will have been a 12-hour round trip - on transport for four hours and at work for eight.
"I think there's a big demand out here for public transport. I think people really want it, and they just get let down," he said.
Garth Bell of Castle Hill said his family moved to the north-west on the basis that a rail line would be built.
"It was on the original plans. I believe it's been on plans for 20 years," he said.
The sticking point
When Bob Carr was premier of New South Wales he realised that massive investment was needed in public transport for Sydney.
The premier also knew that he needed to sell the state's electricity generators to pay for it.
To do that he needed approval from the ALP's state conference, but public ownership of power stations has long been a sacred cow for Labor and his scheme was defeated.
Some in the ALP, such as factional powerbroker Edie Obeid, have lived to regret that decision.
"[The power assets] should have been sold when Carr and Egan floated that in '97," he said.
"We'd have got about $35 billion at the time."
The next New South Wales premier, Morris Iemma, announced an ambitious $12 billion plan to build an underground fast commute metro system out to the city's north west.
But Mr Iemma had to find the money and he decided to reattempt the sale of the state's electricity assets.
At an explosive ALP state conference, his proposal was resoundingly defeated.
The next day, Mr Iemma announced that he was going to defy the decision of the conference.
His decision outraged the union movement which lobbied to MPs to oppose privatisation.
Without crucial support Mr Iemma was forced to resign.
The CBD Metro
New premier Nathan Rees was facing the same problem as his predecessors - public transport, and how to pay for it.
Having dumped Mr Iemma's north-west metro, Mr Rees announced the CBD metro - a six-kilometre tunnel under the city from central station up through the CBD and into a marginal Labor seat in the inner west.
Mr Rees had not taken the plan to his Cabinet and it had not been fully costed.
The Federal Government was not impressed either, saying that the project was not part of a comprehensive transport plan, so it was not willing to fund it.
Mr Rees decided that New South Wales taxpayers would pay for the CBD Metro instead.
But the CBD metro is winning few supporters, least of all people who live at the end of the proposed metro line at Rozelle.
Many are angry that a deal has been struck between Sydney Metro and the Wests Tigers NRL club, so that the station can be constructed and the club totally rebuilt at the same time.
As a result, the State Government is now compulsorily acquiring neighbouring properties for substantially less than the club's developers would have had to pay.
On top of that, six months ago the Government admitted the CBD Metro would run nearly 90 per cent empty when it opened.
It commissioned new models and predicted passenger numbers rose by 50 per cent.
The state's Transport Minister David Campbell insists the CBD Metro is a good long-term investment.
"I'm confident that it will play its part as part of the integrated public transport network that we're working on putting in place," he said.
The cost to business
As Sydney's population soars in north-west, a city the size of Canberra will emerge over the next decade or so.
Norwest is a big new business park in the area, accommodating 25,000 workers including from Woolworths which has its headquarters there.
A key part of the Norwest plan was the north west railway which would have linked the multi-billion dollar park to the rest of the city.
Liberal Party member Graeme Hale set up a scrapbooking and card-making business on that basis.
"We saw the Business Park here at Norwest as an excellent opportunity," he said.
Mr Hale says the never-built rail link is now affecting who he can employ in his company.
"As part of our interviewing process, we ask them what vehicle do you have? Do you have your own motor vehicle licence?" he said.
"It's now got to the point where we are reluctant to hire staff unless they have their own private vehicle.".
The first sod on the CBD metro will be turned before the writs are issued for the next state election, in March 2011.
The Government is unlikely to survive, and the people of New South Wales will still not have a decent public transport system.
ABC TV's Four Corners Program "Off the Rails" is on tonight at 8.30pm on ABC 1.
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