Not another railway boondoggle!

John Howard's Alice to Darwin railway was wasteful enough!

An ambitious $59 billion project to link Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney by very fast train is at the top of a Federal Government wish list for road and rail projects. The proposal heads a priority list of 94 projects, worth $190 billion, selected by the Government's Infrastructure Australia (IA), which was charged with sifting through 1000 submissions. Releasing the list today, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese would not commit to any projects but said the preliminary report, compiled by IA chairman Sir Rod Eddington, would allow "further prioritisation".

Sir Rod was frank, saying the global financial crisis would affect short-term plans. But it would not hurt the long-term ambitions of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, he said. "What we've been asked to do by the Government is to provide a pipeline of projects for their consideration for one, two, three decades," Sir Rod said. "And I think it's very important that we don't confuse the need to get the right pipeline in place with the realities of short-term capital availability."

The short list highlights projects in every state and territory, including rural and urban rail and roads, ports, energy, water, communications and indigenous affairs. Most audacious is the very fast train plan linking east coast capitals, a massive project that has been a pipe dream of successive governments for about two decades now. If the plan does garner Government support it has the potential to turn Canberra into a dormitory suburb of Sydney with the two capitals just 90 minutes from each other.

Other major projects include a long promised freight-only train line through northern Sydney at a cost of $4 billion and a desalination plant for Adelaide which would cost $2.4 billion. At the bottom of the list is a $7.2 million bridge replacement in Adelaide.

The Australian Greens damned the short list, saying it locked the nation into a "high-polluting" future. The top 94 projects will be the focus of Sir Eddington's final report, due to be submitted to the federal government in March.


Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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