It is an interesting time in Australian Politics. Some may not agree but in my view we are in a period of political wilderness. We struggle as Australians to understand why poor decision making flows from Canberra and the respective state and territory governments around our country.
We struggle to understand why we can't get what we need and why can't we actually get the right projects off the ground, projects which are good for this country.
The answer is of course economic and fiscal rationalism benefiting those organisations who choose to rely upon it. We continue to fall behind the rest of the developed world on many critical issues including infrastructure and education. Organisations and politicians don't always have our best interests at heart.
View the full story
You appear to have forgotten to answer the question posed in your title. But I'll bite regardless.
A simple question - why should the taxpayer be asked to put up $100 billion to allow businessy types to have more convenient travel between capitals? Remind me of the lasting social benefit that this brings? Why should society devote a significant chunk of its resources for the benefit of a select part of the population that are already relatively well off?
If HSR is so good, what things should governments and society not spend money on instead in order to fund it? Health? Education? Public Transport? The NBN? To fund $100 billion capital you need to shift about $5 billion a year from somewhere else, on an on-going basis. What's it to be? When you polled the Australian people, did you put that real choice in front of them? Did they volunteer how much extra tax they were willing to pay? What they were willing to go without?
When advocates in regional communities began spruiking this, were they similarly volunteering how much they'd be willing to tip into the pot by some means? Were local governments happy to commit their rate payers for a couple of billion or did they just have their begging bowls out in front of the federal purse?
If HSR is that worthwhile, perhaps we should shut down the existing passenger rail systems in the three capitals on the east coast? That would more or less free up the required public funds. You might upset a few "special interest groups", but I'm sure the fact that they can then travel between interstate capitals, for about the same price as they current fly, taking about the same time, would more than make up for it. Are you still keen?
If you could get between Sydney and Canberra by train in less than sixty minutes for about double or more the cost of the plane, would that interest you? Because that's the sort of cost that you should be considering, in the absence of a huge taxpayer subsidy.
Most things look like a good idea - until someone has to pay!
Let us say some benevolent entity happened to donate the $100 billion - are you telling me that with all the discussion about infrastructure shortages in urban and freight transport, the pressing needs associated with the aging population, the need to remain productively competitive relative to other world economies, the compelling benefits that result from improving education levels, the chronic disadvantage that a large chunk of the indigenous population still endure, the potential challenges associated with Australia's reliance on high carbon energy sources and industries, etc, etc the best thing you could think of to spend that windfall on is a high speed train?? WTF??
Regardless of your point of view, putting this project in the same league as the NBN in terms of the breadth of social benefit or even just the cost/benefit ratio is laughable. Similarly, pretending there's some overarching conspiracy by airlines or whoever to suppress the project in the face of the very publicly available studies and discussion is just plain silly. Conspiracy is the last refuge of those that have lost the rational argument.