I can see where you blokes are coming from and I am not unsympathetic.
I'm sorry to disagree Ian. You are right to want the utmost economy in the use of borrowed state funds, and also to deplore the poor execution of many schemes for improvement by private contractors and the supervisory public servants, but I think that it's a little unfair to blame the ministers (of either persuasion) for not having expertise in areas to which they are appointed. This is one of the greatest faults of the democratic system of government. Even when we occasionally get a Tim Fischer whom I'd like to appoint Dictator of Transport Matters his influence is likely to be negated by ignoramuses and ideologues around the cabinet table.
Where I draw issue with you is in the use of public funds to create assets for the future. Just as we have had to suffer the inconvenience and disruption of, in my case effectively being mostly confined to my own suburban area for a year, and the payment of at least some of the borrowed funds through our taxes, so future citizens should pay their share for what we have provided for their use. As an analogy, it took until I was almost 85 for me to enjoy what the present government has provided in these last few years, but people who will be there after I am dead will enjoy both the free use of the private assets that I have built up by a lifetime of doing without many things that they take for granted, as well as what governments have provided through my hard earned taxes. That is as it should be. They in turn will do the same for their successors.
Though it is of academic interest in the present political climate, we don't need to create credit as a debt. That is the fallacy of capitalism. Control of debt is essential if inflation is to be avoided, but we have had the ability to create it interest free since the creation of the Commonwealth Bank. The USA, in an uncontrolled way which is highly undesirable, is only kept afloat by the printing of money, loading the resultant debt onto the rest of the world, but its private economy is beginning to boom as a result, while ours is contracting to the point that few young people, immigrants or redundant employees will get jobs at all. The resultant social chaos is not far off and it won't be pleasant.
The Great 1930s Depression hit Australia harder than anywhere else and I can vividly remember decent hard working men walking hundreds of miles to look for work, sleeping rough, riding the rattler, and begging to do some wood chopping for a handout at our back door, all because foreign banks demanded repayment with interest instead of declaring a temporary moratorium. Those same men were the backbone of our armed forces in the two disastrous wars on either side of the depression – a great reward for going without to feed their kids, I don't think! Now you know why I support Labor.
Yes our debt is very large, but I for one think that the infrastructure (as against sports and casino support projects) was well justified.
As an aside, I agree with you about mistakes made in our past rail history. I have imported Ron Fitch's book (thick, heavy and in large print with very small pictures) and have read it nearly all the way through. It's my latest acquisition in a large library of interest in rail and many other areas, including his earlier writings.
Finally I am suggesting a revolution. Labor should declare before the election that if the Liberals sell off our public transport assets, it will compulsorily acquire those same assets at the original price upon being re-elected to office. It's about time that politicians realise that they are the TEMPORARY CUSTODIANS NOT THE OWNERS of the common property of us all.