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Serco puts The Ghan, Indian Pacific up for sale
For some political observers it was a matter of when, not if, the South Australian Government would abandon its signature 'GlobeLink' infrastructure plan, writes political reporter Casey Briggs.
This week it announced that the bold plan to divert road trains around the Adelaide Hills and build a new railway and freight airport near Murray Bridge was dead.
Despite being rubbished by the South Australian Freight Council and the former state government when it was announced by the Liberals ahead of the 2018 state election, on becoming Premier, Steven Marshall spent $2.4 million for consultants to tell him that it was indeed a rubbish idea.
KPMG said demand was too low, and the expected benefits were too limited, to justify a project which would ultimately cost taxpayers $7 billion.
It estimated the road corridor part of the project would bring just six cents of value for every dollar spent, while the rail corridor would give back eight cents in the dollar.
In short, it was never going to happen.
Ahead of the election, the Liberals campaigned hard on the GlobeLink policy in electorates along the South Eastern Freeway and Southern Adelaide, hoping it would swing voters sick of trucks and freight trains barrelling through their neighbourhoods.
As the "threat" of Nick Xenophon's SA Best party loomed, the campaign was waged in precisely the electorates the Liberals most feared losing.
Mr Marshall conceded public backlash in the southern suburbs was a concern.
"I'm very strongly a proponent of the project, but the reality is if it doesn't stack up, it doesn't stack up," he said.
"We cannot spend billions of dollars of taxpayer money on a project which really just doesn't financially make sense."
The Premier will be hoping any resentment by residents will have disappeared by the next election, and he's helped by the fact that SA Best is no longer the electoral threat it once was.
While Labor never supported the plan, it appears eager to remind South Australians of Mr Marshall's broken promise.
"Everybody knew that this project wasn't likely to stack up except Steven Marshall, who decides to promise it anyway to get some extra votes," Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said.
"South Australians expect a leader that they can believe and trust will do everything he said they're going to do."
A public holiday trash collectionIt's common practice for politicians to 'take out the trash' on a Friday afternoon, but Steven Marshall made it a three-day long event.
Before killing off GlobeLink on the Australia Day public holiday, he also released two controversial reports about the state of the health system.
The beleaguered health department chief gets to keep his job, after a slap on the wrist and some extra training in conflicts of interest.
And the Premier released his initial response to the corruption watchdog's concerns about conduct in SA Health, after ICAC Bruce Lander said the agency was "ripe for exploitation".
He welcomed the report as an "opportunity to take stock", and a taskforce of senior public servants is continuing to meet to develop a plan to reduce corruption risks.
The fact both reports were dropped at once raised the ire of the State Opposition, but it is, after all, a tactic long used by all in politics.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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