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Is high speed rail our national boondoggle?

By Alan Davies - posted Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Prime Minister's embrace of east coast High Speed Rail and his spinning of value capture removes any doubt he's just as cynical and opportunistic as Labor and the Greens.

Excerpt from S01, E03, Very Fast Turnover, Utopia by Working Dog Productions



Excerpt from S01, E03, Very Fast Turnover, Utopia by Working Dog Productions. More excerpts below

The Turnbull Government is expected to join with Labor and the Greens shortly to promote Australia's perennial National Boondoggle, a High Speed Rail (HSR) service along Australia's east coast from Melbourne to Brisbane.

The Government's contribution to this show of unity is to suggest the $100 Billion plus project could largely be paid for by the sorcery of value-capture (see here, here and here).

Naturally the putatively progressive forces of Australian politics didn't find much wrong with the Prime Minister's latest transport enthusiasm.

All Opposition Leader Bill Shorten could come up with was a mild complaint that the Prime Minister is "clutching at straws" to avoid being branded a "do-nothing" leader ahead of this year's election.

The response from Australian Greens spokesperson for transport and infrastructure, Senator Janet Rice, was even more lacklustre. Ms Rice said "we need to see some real commitment by Mr Turnbull, not just another pre-election grab at a headline".


It's no surprise they didn't question the wisdom of east coast HSR. After all, Labor and the Greens have been guzzling the HSR Kool-Aid for years. Now Malcolm Turnbull's crashed their party.

If you've watched series one, episode three, Very Fast Turnover, of Utopia (Dreamland in the UK and US) you'll already know how ready cynical politicians are to promote the fantasy of east coast HSR to their gullible supporters (selected excerpts below).

It's a political prop. But to take it seriously for just a moment, here's a brief summary of the key problems with east coast HSR (see Why are we still taking east coast high speed rail seriously?):

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This article was first published on Crikey.

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About the Author

Dr Alan Davies is a principal of Melbourne-based economic and planning consultancy, Pollard Davies Pty Ltd ( and is the editor of the The Urbanist blog.

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

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