Monthly Archives: November 2007

Love me or loath me

I think we’ve sorted that one out now.

Goodbye John.

We live in a society, not an economy.

I have no idea who said it first, but that about sums it up for me.

It’s time to fix a mistake I made eleven years ago.

Where are the public transport promises?

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 Australia:

  • 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)

Western Australia:

  • 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:

Australian Democrats

  • 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.

John, you’re not helping your cause.

From the ABC:

Prime Minister John Howard says if the Coalition wins Saturday’s federal election a future Labor government would never be able to repeal the Government’s controversial WorkChoices legislation.

“They will become part of the furniture. They will become so embedded in our business and workplace culture that no future Labor government would be able to reverse them.”

Doesn’t he get it? Workchoices is the primary reason that this government is so on-the-nose. They over-played their hand, and a statement like this can only serve to make people realise that not only can they now be screwed over, but their children and grandchildren can be, too.

Upper-class welfare

First, John Howard says:

“I want to complete the transition of this nation from a welfare state to an opportunity society”

…and then, in the same speech he offers non-means tested education rebates that cover not only tuition fees at private schools, but useless items like uniforms and school camps.

How is this not welfare? Or is it only welfare when you give it to low-income earners?

Senate Group tickets: Victoria

Earlier this week, the Australian Electoral Commission released the Senate group tickets – ie, the manner in which preferences are allocated, if you’re silly enough to vote above the line on the Senate ballot paper. I’ve analysed the Victorian group tickets below; please note that while I make every effort to be accurate, I don’t make any claim to be impartial in my commentary.

I’ll start first with the major parties. As announced last week, the Labor Party has given their immediate preferences to the Greens. This is followed by the Climate Change Coalition. Oddly enough, they’re preferencing the right-wing Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP), and the Shooters Party, above the considerably more moderate Australian Democrats. In the case of the Shooters’ party, this may well be due to some sort of deal, as they have surprisingly preferenced Labor over Liberal, but I can’t work out what the ALP thinks it is doing with the LDP. Fortunately they have learnt from their idiotic mistake in the 2004 election, and Family First is right down at the bottom of their ticket.

The Liberals and Nationals are running a joint ticket (three Libs and one lonely Nat), and their immediate preferences go to Family First, which might be off-putting to any small-l liberal voters still on the Coalition’s side – and more so given that the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) are preferenced next; this is particularly strange, as I can’t imagine that the DLP would be in favour of Workchoices.

Moving on to the not-so-major parties, the Greens have two group tickets, both of which are identical at the pointy end – preferences go to the Democrats, followed by the What Women Want party and the Carers Alliance, and eventually Labor above Liberal/National. The main differences between the two tickets appear to be the positions of Family First, the LDP and the Christian Democratic Party (CDP); presumably the Greens didn’t want to decide between the lesser of three evils.

Family First demonstrate their commitment to the so-called working families of Australia by endorsing Workchoices – they’ve preferenced the Liberals above Labor, although both well below their religious brethren, the DLP and the CDP. One Nation even rates fairly high on their ticket, which just about says it all for me. Not surprisingly, they’ve put the Greens in the absolute last spot, even below the lunar Citizens Electoral Council (CEC).

The Australian Democrats, in what is likely – and sadly – to be their last hurrah, are running two group tickets, with the only difference between the two being the position of the Labor and Liberal/National parties with respect to each other. In both cases, the Carers Alliance, the What Women Want party and the Greens are given higher preferences, and Family First, One Nation and the CEC are right at the bottom.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have given the DLP‘s ticket a second (or even first) glance, but after their surprise win of a Victorian upper-house seat in the state election last year, once again due to ALP insanity, their newfound prominence might cause their preferences to be useful to someone here. They’ve billed the ALP above the Coalition – not a surprise – but both well below Family First.

Some other items of note from the smaller parties:

  • The Carers Alliance have given preferences to the Democrats and Greens, but have put Labor below the Liberals. Odd.
  • One Nation appear to be somewhat schizophrenic; there’s a One Nation ticket on the ballot paper, but there’s also a One Nation WA candidate in the independents section.
  • The Citizens Electoral Council appears to be disliked by almost everyone; the only parties that didn’t put them down in the lower 60s were the Non-Custodial Parents Party, the Christian Democratic Party and One Nation. Great minds think alike.
  • The Conservatives for Climate and Environment party are evidentally so committed to the environment that they’ve preferenced the Liberal Party, known climate change denialists, above the Labor Party.
  • The Socialist Equality Party has three group tickets, one preferencing the Greens, one Labor and one to the Liberals. I guess the Greens are just too bourgeois now.