A couple of points,
Australia is very large country with a small population, and due to VERY poor water resources , its almost certain it will never reach the population density of the USA and do not even think about the population densities of the europen countries. One of the problems this creates is its a comparatively expensive country to run and after all expeneses there's not enough genera; revenue around.
A lot of infastructure projects are going to be very expensive and beyond the country/organisations ability to drum up the immediate funds. Such projects have always been funded by long term loans. This is why its VERY important the project stacks up well.Get
In 1710 The Liverpool (Britian) Corperation (ie the town council) borrowed 11000 pounds (around 2 billion pounds now), to build the worlds first wet dock, this was an enormouse success and quickly propelled Liverpool into one of the worlds leading cities. AN example of a long term infrastucture project that paid off.
I understand and see your point, however a few more from me.
The fact that its a large country is irrelevant, the project is what it is and in the case of suburban infrastructure is less relevant.
If the project is more than once in a generation, ie SNOWY Power, Sydney Harbour Bridge, I tend to agree. But urban railway expansion far less so because the construction is basically ongoing, ie build this one, then the next, then the next....
For example lets look at Sydney, Built the NWRL, now doing the Sydney Metro and in a few years will start the Western Metro, a total of $40-50B plus everything else its also doing. If this money was borrowed by the end of 2020's we'd have $30-40B or so in debt and the job would still not be finished as this is only a drop in the bucket, only now we have also a $2-3B interest bill to fund as well.
Go to Brisbane, $70B in debt, interest bill of $2.5-3.5B of interest. Yet its repeatedly gone on bended knee to the feds to fund the majority of the $5B Cross River Railway, 5 year construction. if it had no debt it could easily fund the project internally and build 3 x CRR projects at the same time. Currently when the CRR is done, the the next railway project such as the Northern Suburbs Trouts road project and/or the Greenbank line will come up, borrowing ontop of borrowing. How about get the budget into the black and fund the project out of recurring revenue. As it turns out, the feds, both sides, refused to lend the money as Qld govt could not be trusted and its now funding the project itself. When done, no extra debt, fund Trouts Road or Greenbank, probably both at the same time from revenue, not debt.
Regards to Mel, the Metro Project is a major deal, but could be funded from the surplus with minimal borrowing during the projects construction, when means once complete, Metro 2 which seems to be thrown about in RP is able to be started almost immediately without adding red to the budget.