Tony the infrastructure PM… WTF?
I very nearly choked when I heard Abbott say that he wants to be known as the infrastructure PM.
This is the man (?) who rabbits on (pardon the pun) / waxes lyrical about the golden
years of the Howard government. That’s the same government that wasted billions in middle class welfare, and left us with probably the biggest infrastructure deficit this country has ever seen.
The same government that was exposed as the most profligate government in the 200 years of Australian history.
So the first question that needs to be asked is ; “What, if anything, does an ex senior minister in the Howard government know about building infrastructure?”
Now, as a driver myself, who owned a small business in Western Sydney last century, I know first hand how long it takes to get around, and how frustrating it is when you’re stuck in traffic for hours on end.
But I have to wonder at the forward thinking ability of someone who’s main infrastructure focus is on roads when, in this 21st century age of communication technologies, he is only offering 20th century infrastructure? 🙄
The truth is that most people now accept that climate change is a real problem that needs to be addressed, and I would have thought that the most important infrastructure projects that we, as a nation, could undertake, are those that reflect the needs of a 21st century nation, and that reduce not only traffic congestion, but also polution in our cities, and around the country.
- The NBN
- Improved public transport, including high speed rail.
There is no doubt that many of the access roads into our cities from the outer suburbs and regions need major upgrades, but the reality is that if the job is done correctly with the NBN, as in FTTP, then not only does decentralisation become a much more attractive alternative for many technology and information based businesses, but also many of the workers in these industries can do much of their work from home.
The net effect being that:
- If a worker doesn’t have to travel for two or more hours a day, then you would imagine that there would be a corresponding lift in productivity.
- The same worker would have more disposable income, as they would not be spending as much money on fuel, fares or parking etc.
- Congestion on the roads would be reduced, along with pollution levels.
- Those that still need to use the roads would experience less delays, reducing travel times and a further reduction of pollution.
If we add high speed rail and better public transport into the mix, you further improve the road access because:
- Many commuters would use a quicker and more efficient public transport system if it were available.
- As more people use a system, the costs come down, making it even more attractive.
- As more people use an efficient public transport system, the volumes of traffic decrease meaning that road upgrades and normal maintenance programs could be scaled back over time freeing up public funding for blackspot upgrades, and other more essential works.
Decentralisation as a result of a 21st century NBN would have major benefits to the economy for a variety of reasons including:
- Companies that move their operations to the outer suburbs or regions will, in many cases, lower their overheads and general operating costs.
- Workers in these industries will reduce their travel times, giving them more down time as well as a larger proportion of disposable income, due to reduced travel expenses.
- Property in the outer suburbs and regions are generally cheaper to buy or rent, further reducing costs for both companies and employees.
- Small towns and regional centres will get more opportunity to grow and improve their services in health and education as well as infrastructure.
So, are roads important infrastructure?
In the 21st century, are roads the most important infrastructure?
I would argue NO.
With the need to address the challenges of climate change, and the information technologies revolution, by far the most important infrastructure project has to be fast and reliable internet. Not an ad-hock scheme based on a mixture of old and new technologies that will be obsolete and need upgrading before it is even completed, but rather the best and most up to date technology available.
So while the LNP and Tony Abbott in particular ramble on about infrastructure, making out like they know what they’re talking about, I’m afraid the best response that I can come up with is:
Tony the infrastructure PM… WTF?