Apr 19, 2016

Seinfeld Parliament ignores High Speed Rail

Malcolm Turnbull has blocked debate of the only Bill before the Australian Parliament – my Private Member’s Bill establishing a High Speed Rail Authority – just days after telling the media he supports the project.

This afternoon I sought to bring on a debate into my Bill, which would create the platform to begin detailed planning and corridor acquisition for a High Speed Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

But the Government gagged debate, despite my Bill being the only piece of legislation before the Parliament, which Mr Turnbull recalled to allow the Government to contrive a double dissolution election for July 2.

In 2013, the incoming Coalition Government cut $54 million that had been allocated by the former Labor Government to establish a High Speed Rail Authority.

Just last week Mr Turnbull floated the idea of using value capture to fund High Speed Rail, only to be shut down by his Parliamentary Secretary for Cities, Angus Taylor, who said the Government would not deliver this important nation building project.

Today Parliament had a golden opportunity to discuss the project in the national interest.

But Mr Turnbull refused, turning the House of Representatives into the Seinfeld Parliament – a Parliament about nothing.

A High Speed Rail line down Australia’s east coast would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to move 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, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

A Labor Government will move quickly to create a High Speed Rail authority to work closely with the governments of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory to advance planning.

Importantly, the authority would also begin the important process of acquiring the corridor before it is built out by urban sprawl.