For an election in which environmental considerations have been claimed to
be high on the agenda of both political parties, there has been extremely
little talk of providing any funding to state governments for improved public transport in the major cities. It’s hard
to imagine any solution to the problem of carbon emissions without also attempting
to remove the large number of cars on our roads that simply do not need to be there.
I had a brief look through the transport policies of both the Labor and Liberal parties in the five biggest
states, and found the following policies all directly involved in building or upgrading roads:
- Westgate Bridge strengthening (Liberal & Labor)
- new Frankston Bypass (Liberal)
- Calder Highway upgrade (Liberal)
- Geelong Ring road completion (Labor)
- Western Ring Road upgrade (Labor)
- South Road upgrade (Liberal & Labor)
- Southern Expressway duplication (Liberal & Labor)
- Northern Expressway upgrade (Liberal)
- new Portwakefield Road (Liberal)
- Gepps Cross intersection upgrade (Liberal)
New South Wales:
- Building the F3 to M2/M7 Sydney Orbital Link (Liberal & Labor)
- Widening the F5 (Liberal)
- F6 Freeway extension (Liberal)
- Upgrading the Great Western Highway (Liberal)
- Brisbane ring road (Liberal)
- Port of Brisbane motorway upgrade (Liberal)
- Pacific Motorway upgrade (Liberal & Labor)
- Toowoomba Second Range crossing (Liberal)
- Gateway motorway southern link (Labor)
- Northern Link tunnel (Labor)
- Upgrade Tonkin Highway (Liberal & Labor)
- Upgrade Kwinana Freeway (Liberal & Labor)
- Duplicate Leach Highway (Liberal & Labor)
- Upgrade roads around Perth airport (Liberal)
- Upgrade access into Fremantle Port (Liberal & Labor)
I then looked for all policies that directly improved public transport in some way, and could only
come up with the following:
- Whitehorse/Springvale Rd/railway grade separation (Liberal)
- Mill Park/South Morang overpass for future railway line (Liberal)
New South Wales:
- Upgrading Sydney rail freight system to ease congestion on commuter rail (Liberal & Labor)
So, there we have it. The commitment of both major parties comes to … well, not very much at all. Three of
Australia’s major commuter railway systems are currently in crisis (Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide) and desperately need
upgrades. Melbourne needs new railway lines to Doncaster and Rowville, and line extensions to Whittlesea. Adelaide’s system
needs to be electrified (diesel is so 1920s). Sydney … well, NSW needs a completely new government before anything can
be done about that mess.
Perth’s system is the only one that has had any major investment put into it; and I confess not to know anything
about the state of Brisbane’s railway network.
It’s well known that building roads does nothing
to fix congestion; it simply encourages more cars onto these roads, which leads to demands for more freeways to ease the resulting congestion. Hence, the roads policies of the two major parties
listed above demonstrate just how little commitment that either of them have to reducing greenhouse gases.
The policies of the Democrats and Greens don’t go into specifics, as the major parties do, but they do at least demonstrate their commitment to public transport:
- Substantial funding for integrated public transport – rail, light rail and bus networks and transit lanes on urban freeways with a priority for those metro areas where transport services are poor.
- Improved public transport frequency, amenity, safety, reliability and accessibility, particularly in outer metropolitan areas. Better scheduling and ticketing coordination.
- Rail services extended to residential developments on the city fringes and modernised and high quality sub-regional feeder and circumferential bus services provided
- Fast train services extended to all major airports and regional centres and linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide for rapid, low emissions passenger ad freight travel.
- a comprehensive, integrated public transport system, with critical components publicly owned and controlled.
- a transport system, including roads, railways, airways and sea-lanes, that is safe, environmentally sound, efficient and reliable.
- increased opportunities for the community to participate in transport planning.
- a public transport system that is more attractive than private car use.
- public transport services to be provided under community service obligations where demand is too low for economically viable services.
- public ownership of the national rail system.
- train services that are competitive with road transport – reliable, safe, fast and inexpensive.
- major airports located to minimise social and environmental impacts.
This election has been a wasted opportunity. The frustration of commuters with delays and cancellations of trains, combined with congestion and petrol prices, added to mounting fears of global warming would have meant a fantastic reception to a comprehensive plan for public transport from one of the major parties. If properly costed – and let’s face it, we can afford it, especially with those huge surpluses that the current government keeps stealing from us – it would have blown the opposite party out of the water.