TOWNS DIE, CITIES CHOKE, AUSTRALIA SLEEPS

I was born and bred in the Australian bush.

There, I went to a tiny bush school which had eleven students whose parents worked in the local timber mill. I enjoyed many happy days in a prosperous little community that really was one large family.

Back in those days of the 1930’s and 40’s, Australia had thousands of small towns, most of them larger than mine, which were stable and secure with affordable housing, plus good shops and a fine school and reliable hospital, based as they were on solid rural industries which were the core of the national economy.

Then, they slowly began to die. Continue reading “TOWNS DIE, CITIES CHOKE, AUSTRALIA SLEEPS”

A FUTURE WITHOUT ADANI

We are led to believe that the economic future of North Queensland is utterly dependent upon the opening of the Adani Mine in the Galilee Basin. Without it, we are told that there will be massive unemployment and a general economic downturn.

Indeed, it is of such enormity that an election in Melbourne for the Seat of Batman in the Federal Parliament will be decided on the issue, even though the electorate and the mine are thousands of kilometres apart.

This nonsense, spread by politicians, free market advocates, climate change deniers and general fear mongers, badly fails the pub test.

The stark fact is that development of the North and the Inland has never been backed by either serious political will or genuine investment, nor has a well researched long term plan of sustainable development for the region ever been prepared, let alone implemented.

The Adani mine was chosen as a quick fix for years of neglect and it was based on series of appalling fabrications. Continue reading “A FUTURE WITHOUT ADANI”

THE ADANI ELECTION

Queenslanders go to the polls on Saturday, 25 November, to elect a State Government.

Ostensibly, it is a contest between Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls as to who will be Premier of the Queensland Parliament,

It is absolutely not.

The battle is about whether or not one of the largest coal mines in the world will be opened in the Galilee Basin of Queensland and send its coal to India via the Barrier Reef.

This creates a complicated political situation as both Palaszczuk and Nicholls strongly back the opening of the mine, as does the likely holder of the balance of power, Pauline Hanson and her competitor for that role – Robbie Katter.

One would think that this would place the Adani mine in the safest of political positions, but it does not. It is an issue that will dominate the headlines until voting day as Adani protesters turn up to disrupt every political meeting, particularly those of the Premier.

Its chief beneficiary will be the Greens who have never before prospered in Queensland.

They will gain the balance of power and deny Hanson her dream. Continue reading “THE ADANI ELECTION”

BIRTH OF A RAILWAY

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.

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. Continue reading “BIRTH OF A RAILWAY”

Why our railways must triumph over roads.

The foundation of Australia’s growth as a nation was based on railways. They spread out like tentacles over the habitable areas of the continent from every capital city, and they were the basis on which commerce and industry were built.

Unfortunately, they had defects that downgraded their ability to serve the needs of a growing nation as they were focused on directing passengers and freight to capital cities, thereby causing unbalanced development — too much population concentrated in too few places. Continue reading “Why our railways must triumph over roads.”