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Abbott’s transport priorities drive Australia into the past

In last week’s election, the respective contenders to lead the nation offered contrasting views on the transport future. One opted to promote urban roads and the other, urban passenger rail. We chose roads…

A focus on freeways will drive Australia’s transport emissions up. Leonard John Matthews

In last week’s election, the respective contenders to lead the nation offered contrasting views on the transport future. One opted to promote urban roads and the other, urban passenger rail. We chose roads.

By sticking with roads and high use of private cars, we stay with automobility and unsustainable transport - with its high pollution levels, dependency on oil, high road trauma levels, inequitable access to mobility, and continuing degradation of urban amenity.

If we had opted for rail investment, we would have a chance of sustainable transport and lessening these environmental, social and economic costs.

But ordinary Australians like to drive, right?

Road supporters say that we live in a democracy and car use is what most people want (although how much of democracy we really have might well be questioned in the wake the Senate results). But is this true?

Let’s look at what we do, rather than what we say we want.

Since the mid-2000s, Australians are driving less distance on a per capita basis. Urban rail has grown strongly in recent decades to the extent that operators are struggling to meet (peak hour) demands. Younger people no longer get their driving license as a universal rite of becoming an adult; many are delaying getting their license and a growing cohort seem intent on never doing so.

Inner city living in the major cities has grown greatly, featuring lifestyles without daily car use by choice and preference. And where the cities are growing on the urban fringe, one of the key complaints is the absence of public transport and the resulting reliance on driving which, for those without cars, brings social isolation.

Based on consumer preferences for urban mobility, you can no longer assume the universal primacy of the private car. People want affordable, convenient, efficient, reliable, safe and clean transport options; they don’t care what they are.

It turns out that the community is surprisingly fluid about how they travel and it’s certainly not true that all urban travelers want to drive their cars for every trip. If public transport, walking or cycling meets their needs, then some travelers prefer these to driving.

Many look for options to avoid driving, with its safety risks, congested roads, high costs, and contributions to air pollution. In all likelihood, if there were more opportunities for public transport and active transport, there would be even less driving and the trends to public transport use would be higher.

Yet our incoming government has pledged to take up the cause of road building and exclude urban passenger rail funding, proffering the view that new roads build the economy and ease road congestion.

Such views are not based on evidence. Most of the recent freeway projects in Australia have gone bankrupt (including Airportlink, Clem7, Lane Cove Tunnel, and the Cross City Tunnel). Transport planners abandoned the views that congestion can eased by adding new roads because the new roads attract new motorists (causing a problem known as “induced traffic”) and congestion re-occurs.

Are more roads necessarily bad news for emissions?

Transport remains a headache for any government dealing with climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Transport was almost 16% of 2011 emissions (excluding those from land use), with 85% of that from road vehicles. Road emissions have been growing 1.7% annually since 1990.

Our current national target is to reduce all emissions to 5% below their year 2000 level by 2020. But transport emissions are currently 18% above their year 2000 levels (and 41% above 1990 levels). Meeting the reduction target in 2020 would mean cutting 23% from the 2011 emissions. In brief, transport emissions are trending up against a target that requires significant reductions.

Incoming environment minister Greg Hunt proposed introducing emission standards for motor vehicles to meet lower emission targets for transport. Could this work? It could help, but would need to meet two seemingly difficult conditions.

Australia would need to adopt strict transport targets, such as those of the European Commission. Currently, we have only voluntary targets and have resisted adopting standards, so moving immediately to strict standards would require a heroic political effort. And future national governments would need to adhere to these targets and ensure on-going regulatory support, since they would be set for 2020 or a similarly distant year.

Furthermore, such standards would apply only to new vehicles. With the ten-year average age of Australia’s registered vehicles, fleet turnover is relatively slow, making fuel efficiency standards a somewhat medium-term solution.

To draw the obvious conclusion, cutting transport emissions is only feasible using a mixture of policy tools and approaches. No single measure, such as vehicle emission standards, will be sufficient.

It seems, however, that there are more motoring enthusiasts in Canberra than just the sole representative of the new Motoring Enthusiasts Party. In assessing the claims being made for road investment, the public would do well to consider the interests of those advancing such views and consider whether these are identical with the national interest.

Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott wants to be the PM for infrastructure. Unfortunately, the road they’ve elected to take Australia down will make Mr Abbott the PM for transport pollution.

Join the conversation

83 Comments sorted by

    1. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I sympathise Alice, we have 1.2km of road that remains dirt, impassable when wet, even though it was widened and made ready for sealing in 1988. The locals call it the tricentennial project...

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Michael Croft

      The best thing about the floods three years ago, was that the federal government gave the local council $2,000,000 to rebuild bridges and roads which washed away. This money helped the council play catch-up. The time-table always blows out by unforeseen problems. Councils simply don't have the cash for this infrastructure. And I bet this government despite the rhetoric, won't either. My little car negotiates with ruts, potholes 300 mm. deep, corrugations, climbs trees, dodges utes, causeways, etc. And yet the far south coast has breath taking scenery. And we can't keep paying for damage to our cars. thanks for the ear.

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  1. peter mackenzie

    Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

    The fossil fuelled car (and trucks) are the real villain here, along with the bureaux, pollies and corporate interests that want more roads, instead of the multi-modal and intermodal approaches alternative approaches that should be mandatory in every case.

    Even putting aside their contribution to AGW, and threats of peak oil, they do great harm viaa combination of road trauma and harmful emissions.

    The combined annual national death toll is greater than 2600 pa, with 32,000 serious injuries…

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  2. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Doug Fraser

      policy analyst

      In reply to account deleted

      Or maybe you could use slaves to do the job. That would probably bring the cost down by 95%.

      Thank God you're unemployed.

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    2. In reply to Doug Fraser

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      Would you care to define what a "right-wing organised infrastructure project" is and give some examples?

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    4. Jonti Horner

      Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow at University of Southern Queensland

      In reply to account deleted

      I'm confused. Did you just argue that the left-wing projects cost far far more, and that the right would do them 75% cheaper because of different HR decisions - then criticise the left for employing "mercenary" engineers who will do the job "substantially cheaper"?

      So, let me get this straight? The left are forcing the costs way up by the human resources decision to employ people who'll do a decent job for a much lower salary? Whereas instead the right would reduce costs by employing only Australian-born engineers who would charge far more for their services?

      I'm sure I'm missing something here - but I can't see where, I'm afraid :(

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    5. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to account deleted

      Mike, your second para raises the $200 billion question. $200 b is a rough estimate of the total of needed/requesyed transport infra project funding nationally.

      But what is really needed for long-term best results as opposed to what is wanted is still an unknown.

      At the moment, a quick scan of Coalition policies shows there funding "intentions" to be about $50b for roads to perhaps $1bn for rail.

      Toowoomba second range crossing - we just don't know if it's really needed, 'cos there's no proper study taking into account a multi-modal and intermodal network approach to include the proposed Inland Rail.

      Pacific Highway - at one time Australia's most dangerous road so needed safety upgrades - but should have always been approached as a multi-modal solution, not just fix the road and let the railway stay in the 1900s.

      Whether it's pork barrelling or appealing to populism, both Labor and Liberal can do that equally well - you don't have to be left-wing!

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    6. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    7. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      So all these construction firms such as Grocon and Leighton are owned and managed by left-wingers, are they? They are the ones who plan and execute these projects and are responsible for timely completion and sticking to budget, not their workforce.

      "Expected to cost" is a long way from factual evidence to demonstrate your assertion. We can all identify any number of infrastructure projects that cost far in excess of what was expected.

      And your statement referred to all "right-wing infratstructure projects" not just one isolated example of a project yet to be completed. I still am no clearer on what you mean by this term.

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    8. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    9. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      It is not a little clearer, because you still have neither defined what a "right-wing infrastructure project" actually is, how it differs from a "left-wing" project nor substantiated your claim that they are always better than "left-wing" ones.

      Projects in progress do not prove your point, because cost and schedule blowouts may yet occur, and benefits realisation will be many years away.

      If you are positing the union-busting Daniel Grollo as anything other than right-wing, them I'm afraid your defnition falls very flat indeed.

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    10. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    11. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      Nicely ducked. Completely fail to define your premises and then patronise me because you're not able to state what you mean.

      As to Grollo, odn't make me laugh. IT doens't matter what happy snaps he appears in, or even that he donates to potential clients; what matters is how he runs his business. Calling out the police on striking unioinsts is not the act of a left-winger, no matter how much you want to whitewash him.

      Truth is, there is no such thing as a "right-wing" or "left-wing" infrastructure project, as you finally acknowledge above. But it was you who first floated these terms and insisted that one is superior to the other.

      I'm not confused; I can spot clear BS when I read it.

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    12. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    13. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      My first response was to this quote:

      "right wing organised infrastructure projects have been built at a fraction of the cost..... we are talking about a 75% reduction in infrastructure project costs on multibillion dollar projects cause kev07 was excluded from human resource decisions"

      and you have been debating me on that response. Your repost is from a post that did not form part of that trail and forms a big departure from your original assertion; hardly a "typo".

      I fundamentally disagree…

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    14. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to account deleted

      "The mentioned tunnelling projects were grossly overstaffed and deliberately staffed with the wrong people in order to facilitate the left wing overstaffing, employment generating agenda."

      Puhlease......... are you serious? WHAT staff? I've never seen 'tunnel staff'......

      Those projects went bankrupt, because no one (well almost no one), myself included, use the stupid things. They are rip offs.

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    15. In reply to Doug Fraser

      Comment removed by moderator.

    16. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Greg Young

      pertinent comment but let's look at the traffic projections for the bankrupted owners of various road tunnels........nothing to do with right and left wing - just going for the highest plausible projections , conflicts of interest situation , ignoring prople's tendency to avoid tolls where feasible... set up trust funds to get retirees to invest in the units... bad luck if they lose out when the projections don't get anywhere near achieved. Nothing much to do with costs of construction , just totally unrealistic traffic projections.

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    17. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to account deleted

      Mike, While you define yourself as an unemployed civil engineer you are self-limiting your prospects.
      I always tell my students that first rule for getting their dream job is to get a job .. any job.
      At least that proves to prospective employers that somebody else thinks that you are worth paying money to, and that you probably turn up to work sober and on time and don't abuse the boss too often.

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  3. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    Tony Abbott has referred to himself as the "Infrastructure Prime Minister".

    Could someone explain to Tony that roads are only a part of infrastructure, please?

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    1. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I'd file that title with Abbott's claim to introduce a "kinder, gentler polity" by turning QT into a bear pit, and Howard making us "relaxed and comfortable" by taking the country into no less than three wars.

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    2. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      Apart from the fact that household insulation and pink batts refer to the same project, nobody would describe that as a public infrastructure project. "School sheds" is a gross over-simplifaction of the objectives, scope and deliverables of that program, which I would expect an engineer to appreciate. Measuring the program against its stated objectives revealed a 97% success rate, something that an engineer ought to appreciate as an excellen outcome, not disparage.

      The government recently elected…

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    3. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    4. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to account deleted

      You are just displaying more and more ignorance. The 97% success rate related to the Schools for the Future program. The insulation program you are carrying on about was not public infrastructure, and so is not relevant to this discussion. In any case, the deaths you refer to were the responsibility of the contractors, not the govenment.

      Most of your comment above does not relate to infrastructure projects at all, and certainly nothing to do with your thesis that there are right-wing and left-wing projects and one is more effective than the other.

      We live in a global economy and professionals do need to compete globally. Pretty sure you'll find that was not the idea of left-wing progressives. You reap what you sow.

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    5. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    6. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to account deleted

      "then you got the pink batts"

      which worked fine and didn't electrocute anyone.

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    7. In reply to Greg Young

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to account deleted

      For your information, THREE of my friends found employment in the insulation scheme, and none of them died. Whilst every industrial accident/incident is deplorable, far more people died installing batts during the Howard years than during the insulation boom, EVEN THOUGH far far more batts were installed when Rudd was PM.

      BTW, most insulation contractors were self employed, and not members of unions.

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    9. In reply to Mike Stasse

      Comment removed by moderator.

    10. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to account deleted

      No I'm not lose to it at all.......... I installed my own insulation before the scheme, and as a designer of hyper efficient houses, I firmly believe in insulation..... and I agree with Greg Young.

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  4. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    Let's remember a few facts here – 90% of workers in our big cities do not work in the central city - they commute between suburbs, and public transport is simply not feasible for most of them. Roads are also used by thousands of people delivering goods and services to factories, office buildings, and housing throughout the entire city. They carry goods, equipment, and tools and it is simply not feasible to use anything but road transport. Parents with small children cannot do the shopping with a…

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Michael Brown

      "The idea that rail investment is good and road investment is bad is simple-minded and misleading."

      I agree.

      Road and rail are but a small part of infrastructure which includes our telecommunications systems, hospitals, schools as well as the many satellite suburbs (which would benefit from a substantial investment into public transport such as bus or rail (trams?).

      Infrastructure is a relatively small word for the complexity of a functional nation.

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    2. Jarrod Chestney-Law

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Brown

      "They carry goods, equipment, and tools and it is simply not feasible to use anything but road transport. "

      There are other far more efficient means, but there's no political or social will to do so. We're content to use the laziest, cheapest and dirtiest solution for as long as possible (as long as it doesn't impact us personally).

      "Parents with small children cannot do the shopping with a toddler or two in tow using public transport. "

      Yes, they can. They do it all over the world. If…

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    3. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Road investment is more than bad........ it's STUPID! Because in less than a decade, there will be no traffic on them from lack of oil...

      I guess we could lay rails on all the freeways then.... they're not as well graded as rail corridors, but they will be there for the taking. And they will make wonderful cycleways!

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    4. In reply to Mike Stasse

      Comment removed by moderator.

    5. Mike Stasse

      retired energy consultant

      In reply to account deleted

      If we go GTL....... you kiss your arse goodbye. There won't be an ecosystem left anywhere to grow food.

      In any case..... I see ZERO infrastructure to replace the current one, and we have less than seven years left in Australia...

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    6. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Wot? Many Melb professionals love their train trips that let then work while they travel - laptops etc at the ready.

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  5. Rene Oldenburger

    Haven't got one

    There are and have been massive road works undertaken in Adelaide the last few years and ALL under an ALP State Government and partly being funded by a Federal ALP Government.

    It's only when the Libs do the same thing it becomes a problem for some

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    1. Stuart Johnson

      Mathematics Lecturer

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      But they also have carried out major rail upgrades on every suburban rail line and extended the tram in recent years. Furthermore the federal support for the Tonsley rail upgrade which was offered by the ALP government is now being withdrawn. The point isn't that there should be no funding for roads, rather that there shouldn't only be funding for roads.

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    2. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      Stuart below is correct in saying its not that there shouldn't be funding for roads, but it shouldn't only be funding for roads. As I mention in a comment earlier, the Coalition policies reveal intended spending of roads to rail in the ratio of $50 billion to $1b.

      And as I also mentioned, projects like the Toowoomba second range crossing have not been considered along with proposed Inland Rail crossing. It's all single mode, non-integrated planning instead of integrated intermodalism.

      On that…

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    3. Rene Oldenburger

      Haven't got one

      In reply to Stuart Johnson

      Upgrading the railway system in Adelaide doesn't add to more efficiency, the only thing so far has been going from diesel to electric. Simply no room in Adelaide to put in new lines.

      South Road will continue to be a nightmare as a transport corridor unless the whole road is changed to a four lane road. Problem that Adelaide has there is no room for a ring road like other Australian cities.

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    4. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to account deleted

      Hi Mike

      my 50:1 billion ratio roads to rail was just from a quick scan of Coalition policies and a bit of mental arithmetic, so it's no high science.

      The figure of shortfall in rural roads funding varies between the Aust Local Government Association ($1.2b) and a rural roads lobby group (at $2.4bn.)

      Given the complexity behind many aspects of transport planning/funding/policy I suspect that the Abbott/Coalition fixation on roads comes from a confluence of a number of factors/influences…

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  6. Nicolas Bertin

    Physicist

    The problem I believe is from the tourism style in Australia. National Parks and places of interest are often very remote : car camping is the norm. I'm not saying we need more lodges in the parks and airport transfers, but we could have lodges on the outskirts, and a good shuttle service. The problem is, how can you put a shuttle with so many bumpy gravel roads ? It's a vicious circle, you can't have "green" no-car tourism without having good roads in the first place (because you can't just put…

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Nicolas Bertin

      Hi Nicholas

      We need multi-modal/intermodal approaches to transport.
      Unfortunately the bias towards roads and private cars and road freight has been catastrophically expensive for decades

      Road crashes alone have cost in todays prices, at least a trillion dollars over the last half-century.

      We could do much better - but competing and conflicting interest/priorities keep dragging us back and down.

      It's easy to blame the pollies or the bureaux, or industry -or community demands - but its a complex mix of all of that

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  7. Edwina Laginestra
    Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Jack of all trades

    When reading TC I always try to challenge my beliefs and knowledge and also those of the author. There seems to be a little bit of problem in the main premise here...that is that people voted for LNP for their policies. As even LNP members have pointed out some of the policies taken to the election were NOT popular, they just came as part of the package and it is a real bummer that we can't seem to pick and choose (or maybe that is the fun with the Senate). And I think some people sort of hoped they'd be able to change some of these dumb ideas later - this includes PPL, NBN, (perhaps even ETS?). I'm not sure I'd agree that people voted for roads against public transport.

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  8. Jessica L. Browne

    Research Fellow at Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes

    Excellent analysis. Couldn't agree more. The assumption that we all need and want dramatic increases in investment in roads (rather than rail) was one of my key frustrations during the election campaign. Now I'm set to be frustrated for the next 3 years. Please to be living in Melbourne with Adam Bandt on the case!

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  9. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    Two important factors not mentioned.

    Roads take up significant space (about 30% of town size is devoted to roads, carparks etc) which eats into natural environment.

    Roads require maintenance, and roads have to be economic to pay for their maintenance costs.

    Third point perhaps is that after a peak is reached, more people == less natural environment and generally more costs and more debt.

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Good points dale. The flexibility and convenience of cars necessitates the eating up of land - just as the poorer safety levels in road use as compared to rail and air are again necessary to make the road system work - and for it to be competitive against other modes.

      I could explain that better, but would need several pages. Unfortunately I can't write for TC as I am not no hacademic, just a poor unpaid independent research (just kidding TC, no intended sleight, I love this forum except when people start personally insulting each other - boring!)

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      I am involved in road building currently, and what becomes noticeable is how few Australia workers are employed.

      Normally, about 50% of men are from NZ, about 10% from Ireland, about 10% from various other countries, and the rest from Australia.

      Few women are usually employed, because few women like the work.

      About 60% of women are from NZ, about 20% from Ireland, about 10% are Canadian, and about 5% are from various other countries, and the rest from Australia.

      So out of a work crew of say 100, about 30 would be Australian men, and 1 to 2 would be Australian women.

      The $11.5 billion WestConnex motorway in Sydney will be a major benefit to New Zealand, as it will provide employment for many New Zealanders, but I believe it will do little for the long term benefit of Australia.

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    3. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Thanks Dale

      Though I try to gain an understanding of numerous aspects of transport, there is so much involved and I was unaware of what you mention.

      Are they people on 457s? or is it under some other arrangement?

      Cheers

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    4. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      I don’t know. There is usually so many, one doesn’t bother to ask.

      Road building companies rely a lot on getting state and federal contracts, and such companies employ a lot of casual workers.

      There can be a very high employee turnover rate, and most New Zealanders seem to come here to make whatever money they can, and then send it back home.

      They may/may not stay in Australia for long.

      With a high number of New Zealanders in Sydney, I would think many or most of the jobs for the WestConnex motorway will go to New Zealanders.

      It would be interesting to see how many employees are paid at award rates. If they are, then they can be earning up to twice the hourly rate than employed at non-award rates offered by a company.

      If someone has minimal chance of employment in NZ, then they can accept lower rates of pay in Australia (below award rates), because it will be more than what they can earn in NZ.

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  10. Neville Mattick

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Why am I not surprised when I read this very informative article - thank you Leigh.

    The last really sums it all; "Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott wants to be the PM for infrastructure. Unfortunately, the road they’ve elected to take Australia down will make Mr Abbott the PM for transport pollution."

    It is true what others' say here about Rural and Regional Councils and their inability to cope with vast networks of degraded roads - this is unlikely to change.

    I am also concerned as the 'infrastructure PM' gets on with his mantra that people will be displaced to make these vast roads.

    An incredible irony to me is the destruction of the NBN in the face of roads, when so many could have worked from virtual offices at home - what a waste.

    I am reminded of the powerful lyric of Neil Young "got fuel to burn, got roads to drive - keep on rockin' in the free world" - and he is someone who has sought to make cars much more efficient: http://bit.ly/1bqEsnR

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  11. Shannon Conroy

    Manager at FMCG

    The author has a strong point, but it only applies when you live within that exclusive 20km belt around a city like Sydney or Melbourne.

    Beyond that, expanding the public transport system which would enable suburban dwellers out to 50km from the city to move relatively quickly and easily between any point in the suburbs would cost several hundred billion dollars - per city. (Think digging hundreds of kilometres of tunnels and/or land acquisitions) And obviously we are talking rail here, as buses are not quite "good enough" to many advocates. Adding to that are billions per year in the costs of staffing stations and running hundreds of services "after hours" which would very likely be under utilised - as people could still use private vehicles.

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    1. Shannon Conroy

      Manager at FMCG

      In reply to account deleted

      Adelaide and Perth have far less extensive networks than Melbourne or Sydney. I do not see your point.

      I am not saying "don't build any PT networks", I am simply saying it has to make economic and social sense. Within high density inner city areas it is far more preferable to use PT and makes sense to expand and improve the system. But where I live, (50km from melbourne centre) unless there was a rail station 300m from my house which could take me to within 300m of anywhere I might want to go, I would use my car. Could you build a system like that with the current financial state of our governments? I think not.

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    2. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Shannon Conroy

      Shannon,

      I used to live 80km from Sydney, and the rail station was several km from home.

      So we did kissnride or park n ride. The worst part of the journey was the change to crowded underground for the last km.

      in the future, park n ride using either car or minus connections powered by non-fossil fuel would be a better alternative.

      Not saying it will go anywhere near being a complete fix. It won't.

      Just as for older people and people with disabilities, mass transit PT will often be unsuitable, so we will need far better communty transport type services with wheelchair accessible minibuses etc.

      As I have mentioned earlier, we need vastly improved integrated multi-modal and intermodal approaches - not more freeways and other short-term, dead-end spending.

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    3. Andrew Kewley
      Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to Shannon Conroy

      Why do you need to be within 300m of a station? Many Europeans who take public transport don't expect stations that close.

      You can easily travel over 3km in 10 minutes on a bicycle with less effort than walking.

      Keeping in mind that your travel times are going to be long anyway because you chose to live so far from the city centre.

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  12. Arthur James Egleton Robey

    Industrial Electrician

    Check your assumptions.
    This has nothing to do with transport-it has everything to do with selling cars. They are Liberals, remember. It is all about the bottom line.
    No, No-Not your bottom line, silly! The car dealerships' bottom line.
    To test his idea we should see a clampdown on "Old" vehicles soon.
    Listen, if you pay good money for politicians, you want Results- Not excuses.
    We have the best politicians money can buy. World class professionals. They do it for money.

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  13. Andrew Kewley
    Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Student

    People drive because they have not been given any choice otherwise.

    Even the newest bicycle infrastructure is of very poor standard compared to international best practices.

    The problem is not the distances involved. Electric bicycles can travel reasonable distances without the rider building up a sweat. Longer trips can be done with mixed mode commuting like many people do in Europe. At least we would if we could...

    Mixed mode commuting also gets neglected with very little secure bicycle parking, at stops, and little or no allowance for taking bicycles on public transport.

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  14. Ted Floyd

    Retired Soil Scientist

    We all need to vote with our bums. We have the choice to sit in a car for many hours, or sit in a train/buss---- . It is easier to Join the conversation on a train. Or live in the inner city and spend less time sitting on my bum, great for health. The best way to stop big, expensive freeways is to send them broke.

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  15. Noel McFarlane

    Cycling advocate

    The precept that the election result was a positive choice by Australians for what has to be seen for what it is - backwardness - seems wrong to me. I think Australians just voted Labour out. Only inadvertently did they vote the Coalition in.
    Now we are walking up to what we have done. Naturally the Coalition says they have a mandate.
    Probably we now have what we collectively deserved.

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  16. Ted Floyd

    Retired Soil Scientist

    Who believe Economist, I don't? Who believe forecasts of future car use by road builders, I don't. Who believe politicians who state we must build more roads in the inner suburbs of Sydney, I don't? The Cross City Tunnel in Sydney is bankrupt and a sorry failure. This project failed because the RTA produced over the top forecasts of high car use in the future. The unfortunate companies involved in financing and building this tunnel believed the dodgy RTA forecasts and built the tunnel. The tunnel went bankrupt because there never was enough cars to produce a viable money making venture. Since the tunnel was built many people have invented excuses for its failure. Our present Gov. are now proposing to build more failures. Who will pay for these failures.

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  17. David Hutchinson

    PhD student, climate science

    Nice article - we could abbreviate the title to PM for Pollution.

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