Mar 16, 2015

Abbott’s Indifference puts Handbrake on High Speed Rail

Today I visited Albury with New South Wales Labor Candidate for Albury, Ross Jackson, to call on the Australian Parliament to adopt my Private Members’ Bill, the High Speed Rail Planning Authority Bill 2013.

 Tony Abbott must stop feigning interest in developing a High Speed Rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra and begin acquiring land before ongoing urban sprawl makes the project impossible.

 Since his election in 2013, Mr Abbott has done nothing on this visionary project apart from scrapping the former Labor Government’s $52 million investment to establish a High Speed Rail authority to begin serious planning and corridor acquisition.

 High Speed Rail would revolutionise interstate travel, making it possible to travel between capital cities in as little as three hours.

 It would also supercharge the development of regional communities along its route, including Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Grafton, Newcastle and Shepparton.

 A feasibility study into the 1748km line commissioned by the former Labor Government found that for every dollar spent on the first section between Sydney and Melbourne, the project would return $2.15 in economic benefit to our nation.

 While High Speed Rail is a long-term project, the key to its success is early planning.

 The Commonwealth should be providing leadership to affected state and territory governments and talking to regional communities about the potential economic spinoffs.

 Instead, Mr Abbott’s indifference is slowly sucking the life out of the project.

 Running a nation requires the ability to think long-term and recognize what can be done now to advance future economic development opportunities.

 But Mr Abbott seems unable to think beyond the next election or the next challenge to his leadership.

 If the Government is serious about preparing Australia for the future, it should adopt the High Speed Rail Planning Authority Bill 2013.