Jul 7, 2017

Coalition must act now on high speed rail

Malcolm Turnbull must accept the advice of Infrastructure Australia and begin to secure the corridor for a High Speed Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra before it is built out by urban sprawl.

Today’s report by Infrastructure Australia calling for the government to begin securing land for the line follows four years of inaction by the Coalition on this visionary project.

In 2013 the former Federal Labor Government allocated $50 million to create a High Speed Rail Authority to advance planning and secure the corridor.

But the incoming Coalition Government scrapped the plan, which Labor had proposed in response to the recommendations of an independent expert panel that included former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott and the late Bryan Nye, of the Australasian Railways Association.

Since then the Government has refused to bring on a debate of my Private Member’s Bill which would create such an Authority.

This remarkable lack of vision threatens the viability of the project, with Infrastructure Australia’s report warning that development is now consuming land along the route.

High Speed Rail would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to travel between capital cities in as little as three hours.

It would also turbo charge the economic development of the regional centres along its route, including the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The former Labor Government conducted a feasibility study into the project which found it was viable, producing $2.15 in public benefit for every dollar invested in the Sydney to Melbourne corridor.

It is time for the Coalition to stop stalling and get behind this project in the national interest.