Soon after John Howard became Prime Minister of Australia in 1996, I met him at Parliament in Canberra to outline my plan to build an inland railway.
He agreed that it was a visionary project well worth a try and he gave me the green light to open negotiations with appropriate Ministers in his Cabinet.
I mentioned to him that there was a political downside for his Government. No matter what corridor we chose for the railway, many people would be hurt as we resumed properties & demolished homes as inevitably happens with every infrastructure project anywhere in the world.
We agreed that we must always work on the principle that every effort would be made to avoid unnecessary hardship and that compensation for property and loss of income would be generous.
Sadly, those who have followed him have not adhered to this principle.
However, there have also been selfish attitudes among property owners.
I addressed more than 50 public meetings in rural communities between Melbourne and Darwin in 1996 and 1997. Crowds were so large that there was standing room only. Enthusiasm for the Railway was huge, far greater than anything I have experienced before or since.
Nevertheless, at the end of every meeting, some people would chat with me and say 'Everald, this project is magnificent, absolutely essential for the future of the Inland, but can you give me an assurance that it won't go through my property?'
My answer was always NO. But, this attitude of self-preservation has not changed to this day.
Unfortunately, for me, I am no longer involved in the Inland Railway. When the Federal Government decided to proceed with the Melbourne to Brisbane section of it, they dispensed with me without making contact to acknowledge that I had spent over two decades of my life strenuously advocating it. They offered no financial compensation for my work. And not one word of thanks.
REPORT THIS AD
So, for those of you out there who are angry with the way that you and your property are being treated at this moment, spare a thought for me. I reckon that I am at the top of the list of the aggrieved.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
14 posts so far.