Infrastructure needs science, so who put the politicians in charge?

 

News article: Infrastructure needs science, so who put the politicians in charge?

The recent productivity commission 

  Rossco T Chief Train Controller

Location: Camberwell, Victoria
The recent productivity commission report into public infrastructure left the most important policy question unasked, namely: if there were better ways for planning and building transport infrastructure, would anyone actually be interested?

Australians have become addicted to the political theatre that surrounds transport and planning. By contrast, successful jurisdictions overseas have placed infrastructure into a condition of mundane, plodding progress.

To do this, they’ve taken infrastructure planning and financing out of the hands of politicians by-and-large, and have never looked back.
Infrastructure needs science, so who put the politicians in charge?


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The recent move by Denis Napthine in Victoria to “re-shape” the long-planned and well supported central city metro corridor with the stroke of his own inexpert pen would be simply unthinkable in the US.

So would Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrew’s less-than-half-baked move to spend billions on road-rail grade separations without so much as a preliminary study.

The Germans would know that projects such as Melbourne’s metro tunnel need to be planned properly – through the classic “comparison of alternatives” for routes, tunnel alignments, and station locations.

Note that there was very little consideration of alternatives when the metro tunnel was first mooted in the 2007? Eddington report.

Since the original metro was first developed on the back of an envelope it was soon realised that there were many engineering challenges with the route that seemed to have been adopted as a fait accompli.  Significantly more work has since been undertaken in relation to Melbourne's rail capacity needs as shown by the PTV rail network plan and the new route for the Melbourne Metro builds on this additional analysis.  To suggest that the change has been made at the stroke of an inexpert pan is quite ridiculous, it is just that all the analysis has not yet been made public.

Ross

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  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
I had thought that Infrastructure Australia was a useful body (of economists) to rank the various transport infrastructure projects for funding, but I must concede that the projects are only those which are presented to them by state governments to assess against a standard methodology.  The state governments have their own way of designing and proposing projects, which can be based on pleasing voters in specific locations or specific interest groups (developers, freight forwarders) who believe that their own needs are the most pressing ones.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
German's are not perfect and have their own issues. As an example, the rail tunnel at Leipzig is a long draw out cluster starting decades ago. Large city tunnel projects also have a history of cost over runs and complexity with time. What appears simple often becomes increasingly more complex when they start touching on detail. Existing services, buildings, infrastructure etc.

Difference I think between Australia and many parts of European/Asian politics is that in Europe both sides tend to agree on whats roughly needed and hence multi decade plans can be put in place that are heavly influenced by govt change. Australian politics suffers longterm planning as most govt don't plan much past the next election in detail because the next govt may abandon it and whats the point putting in a long infrastructure project if you cannot claim the political points from it when opened.

The advantages of a good dictatorship govt and the likes of Soviet Union is that its one party, one plan (right or wrong), little politics to worry about and public outcry. Put a 20-25 year plan in place and review every 5 years.

I don't know how this can be made possible, but I like to see longterm (say 10 year) bi-partisan major infrastructure plan that is then backed up with 3rd party checking for validity in cost and techical aspects and benefit to community etc. Its then signed off and approved by both sides and cannot suffer from major change apart from time line related funding etc.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Australias problem is the historical legacy of State Govts being responsible for public transport
but having no financial capacity to actually do whats needed, as all the money is collected by the Feds.
Problem cant be fixed, unless the States are abolished, or State Govts go back to levying income tax.
Cant see either happening.

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