Today’s “faster rail” reannouncement by Scott Morrison simply exposes the six wasted years Australia has experienced under this Government when it comes to building the rail infrastructure this country desperately needs.
In recent days Mr Morrison has been scrambling to announce plans for new rail projects linking capital cities to regional areas to reduce traffic congestion.
But this late conversion follows years of Coalition cuts to rail investment, starting in 2013 with its cancellation of Federal support for major rail projects including the Melbourne Metro, the Parramatta to Epping rail link in Sydney and Brisbane’s Cross City Rail.
It also follows the fact that five times now I have introduced my Private Members Bill to establish a High Speed Rail Authority in the Parliament.
This Authority would have included representatives from the relevant state and territory governments to set out a practical path for delivering High Speed Rail in Australia.
Yet each and every time the Coalition Government has refused to debate my Bill, let alone allow a vote on it.
On the basis of the 2013 feasibility study, an independent panel led by former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and the Business Council of Australia’s Jennifer Westacott recommended the creation of a High Speed Rail Authority to advance the project and begin corridor acquisition.
Now, after nearly six years of inaction, Mr Morrison suddenly wants to create a national authority to manage his rail plans.
His sudden interest in rail should be seen for what it is – a desperate attempt to feign action on an issue the Coalition has ignored for years.
It will take a Shorten Labor Government to invest in the infrastructure Australia needs, including High Speed Rail.
A High Speed Rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to move between capitals in less than three hours.
This would supercharge development of communities along its route such as the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the NSW Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.
Labor has been leading the infrastructure debate from Opposition and Mr Morrison is very late to the party.