May 24, 2017

Turnbull’s infrastructure plans built on shaky ground, but escape proper scrutiny

There's no evidence we're getting infrastructure spending or decision-making right at the Commonwealth level.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Commonwealth's role in infrastructure investment is one of the biggest economic policy issues in Australia currently, and it's not at all clear that it is not being dreadfully mishandled by a government -- and a Parliament -- more focused on placating sectional interests than addressing the national interest.

The Commonwealth has been MIA on infrastructure for several years now, leaving the New South Wales and Victorian governments to lead the way on investment. The government purported to rectify this in the most recent budget with headline investments in inland rail, Badgerys Creek Airport and a "National Rail Fund" but there has been plenty of scepticism, and not just from the opposition.

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10 thoughts on “Turnbull’s infrastructure plans built on shaky ground, but escape proper scrutiny

  1. klewso

    …. someone doesn’t believe in Santa Claus….?

  2. old greybearded one

    Why do you hate the idea of rail freight Bernard. There is no viable link from Brisbane to Perth as it all has to come and get tangled up in the Sydney passenger network causing delays and poor scheduling. We have absolute crap infrastructure in inland NSW and Qld. Toowoomba has a serious air terminal now and this becomes part of it. There are alternative routes for many items in this. Mike Mrdak knows this. He is from inland NSW. Get out and look Mr KEane.The world is not Melbourne.

  3. Dog's Breakfast

    While not disrespecting OGO’s comment, surely a rail line from Badgery’s to the city will be much more used and therefore a higher return.

    But this should be considered in terms of how to avoid everything going in and through Sydney and Melbourne, and possibly even linked to opening up some far flung destinations to allow people to live outside of SydMel and still work there, coupled with an NBN allowing more working from home, plus boosting the economies of the non SydMel cities.

    Regional investment could earn a great return on investment if it also boosted economies outside the centre and spread out our population a bit, which tends to resolve myriad problems of housing, roads, rail, commute times, quality of life, all those things that economics doesn’t actually value at all.

    1. Duncan Gilbey

      “…coupled with an NBN allowing more working from home…”
      See, that’s the problem right there. The FTTN NBN now being built will not really allow the upload really large files to be sent from home – so too bad if you work in the multi-media industry.
      If the LNP’s handling of the NBN is any indication of their project management skills viz a viz infrastructure in general, we are well and truly rooted.


      Yes why is that we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by expanding our major cities, especially SydMel, instead of putting government incentives into developing new industries (assuming we are clever enough) in regional towns / cities. Transport and telecoms are getting better all the time so this should be possible. This country cannot survive long term by just digging holes in the ground and tilling the land.

  4. James O'Neill

    National Trunk Rail have in fact already spent $20 million of feasibility studies. If, for example, the percentage of freight currently traveling by truck on the Melbourne Sydney Brisbane route could be diverted to rail in the same ratio as freight traffic from the east coast to Perth then the rail would be very profitable. An efficient inland rail route also has the potential to boost the growth of secondary cities thereby providing a range of other benefits. There are a whole host of other variables that have been analysed and costed. Dragging in easy target Malcolm Roberts to discredit what is well worth while examining properly rather betrays the lack of insight that this country sorely needs in its infrastructure planning as in so much else.

  5. graybul

    When it comes to infrastructure the Prime Minister has form . . . . that is, he backs infrastructure not for the nation; but for present day political capital. Knowing infrastructure budget projections/timelines insulate against accountability . . . like, well after a current government has collapsed . . .

    Cherry picking major infrastructure projects sans context, integrated forward planning and access to state of the art technology almost always ends, not in nation’s interest. Put another way; immediately after the lights have gone out . . . unwise to commit $4 billion pumping water uphill. Or, redesign a 21st century national communication network as a 20th century hybrid regional network. By all means transportation corridors should be built. But let us be a little more sophisticated at the design stage than sketching out rail corridors on tablecloths for steam engines.

    Given neither government or opposition are clothed in glory when it comes to national interest . . . why not when it comes to national infrastructure design/builds; Parliament put in place an infrastructure expenditure cap beyond which both major parties must agree to support the proposed project before it can proceed?

  6. phonakins

    IT also doesn’t have to all be about dollar return. Why not have an efficient rail system inland so to get the trucks off the road and save a few lives here and there? Or, have a decent rail line to the new airport for everyone else who lives between there and the centre of Sydney already dealing with overcrowded road and rail links?

  7. AR

    The increasingly deranged neolib frothing of BK against the Mel/Bris rail link is reaching Blot-like proportions of irrationality.
    Flailing at straw nutters like Malcolm Roberts to try to damage the case is tabloid tawdry and taints the rest of his reportage.
    The point of the Inland rail should be less about moving freight from A to B than the massive impetus it would give to living west of the GDR.
    Let the Big Shittys on the coast pay the true cost of the cossetted lifestyles and see how attractive they really are.
    However, if it should ever come to pass, can we at least ensure that PhV be the motive power source?
    Railways are not just long lengths of steel but much wider easements which, lined with PhV owned & maintained by the localities would be a source of income, training & employment, not to mention pride and self sufficiency when the refugees from the crumbling megacities come seeking sanctuary.

  8. klewso

    “This government will deliver on it’s promises”??????
    Pass the NBN.

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