Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Birth of a railway

By Everald Compton - posted Monday, 15 May 2017


Shortly after John Howard was elected Prime Minister of Australia in 1996, I visited him at Parliament to outline a plan that I had to build an Inland Railway from Melbourne to Darwin via Parkes, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Gladstone, Mount Isa and Tennant Creek.

He has readily agreed to see me as I had been his honorary fund raiser for the marginal seats he had to win in order to be PM. I was not a member of the Liberal Party and had done this with no strings attached as he was an old friend, and still his.

Howard apologised and said he did not see it as a priority. He wanted to carry out all of his election promises and this was not one of them. That decision blows the theory that politicians are duty bound to repay political debts, not that I ever expected him to do so.

Advertisement

I decided to undertake the project privately and formed a company that I called Australian Transport and Energy Corridor Ltd which is still operating 21 years later. It is largely responsible for the decision in last Tuesday’s Budget to fund the Melbourne Brisbane section of the Inland Railway.

Let me tell you the story of two decades of persistence.

Peter Costello was not interested as he only favoured infrastructure that was privately funded and was profitable from its opening day, but studies I had done showed that this was not possible. It had to have substantial government funding.

Tim Fisher was a supporter, but he did not have the numbers to get there and John Anderson sat on the fence, offering token funds for small studies.

Nevertheless, my team was able to keep it on the agenda and Anna Bligh backed our plan to link Toowoomba and Gladstone. Sadly it became unviable when the mining boom collapsed.

Then, Anthony Albanese and Wayne Swan pledged 300,000 dollars to buy land for the new corridors needed for the Melbourne Brisbane route, but their government fell before the work could commence and Abbott cancelled it because it was a decision of the Gillard Government. Some time later Truss reinstated it, then doubled it, while Turnbull added extra, but little work was actually done.

Advertisement

Now, Malcolm Turnbull has committed to build it, stating that it will be done irrespective of whether or not private capital is contributed. The Australian Rail Transport Corporation, the government’s own railway company, will receive the funding and has been instructed to form a public private consortium.

ATEC Rail Group, which my old company is now called, has been invited to put capital into the consortium and we will do so along with other private investors.

Will it happen?

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Everald Compton was one of the five contributors to the first edition of On Line Opinion, and in April, 1999 contributed this article Australian Inland Rail Expressway: a century of planning, outlining his plans for the Inland Railway. We're happy to have been a small part of his success.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

14 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Everald Compton

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Everald Compton
Article Tools
Comment 14 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy