Federal Govenment Policy?
At an industry conference in Cairns at the beginning of this month, I asked the Federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, the following question: ‘What are the barriers to getting the Federal Government to implement the House of Representatives Standing Committee Report on Sustainable Cities, in particular Federal funding of sustainable transport?’ Here are some extracts from his response: “We are considering the report …the big idea in the report was to establish a sustainability charter and a sustainability commission and to condition grants to the States on the basis that they achieve certain sustainability outcomes such as a reduction in automobile dependency, for example; now that is a big idea and its a great idea at a conceptual level but the practicalities of it are still being debated. In terms of the Federal Government funding public transport …there is no more passionate advocate of urban mass transit than me …now the one virtue of public transport is that when the train is late at Linfield Station people know it is Morris Yemma’s fault and not John Howard’s, so there is clear line of accountability …but the minute we get involved in that we will end up owning the problem …but the neglect of urban mass transit has been incredible, you know if you look at a city like Sydney…in the last ten years or so there must be 12 -15 billion dollars or so invested in tunnels and big roads …and the city has become more congested. So what the Federal Government tries to do, through AusLink, which is an enormous transport infrastructure fund, is focus on roads that go from one centre to another …like the ring road in Sydney, we put money into the M7…but leave the local urban mass transit to the States and in some cases, local government.”
Justification and priorities?
“Expense figures released yesterday by the cash-strapped Melbourne City Council, which in May sacked 26 staff to cut costs, show …the council paid$10,379 in the last financial year on petrol and eTag charges for the low-profile councillor Carl Jetter to drive from his home in Ashwood to the Town Hall, even though he works full-time in his private business from an office next door. Cr Jetter …defended spending public money to get to his private workplace, saying he was legally entitled to claim local travel expenses when visiting the Town Hall for Council-related work. ‘I am just spending what I am entitled to,’ he said.” (Clay Lucus, The Age 28 July 2007)
Stephen Ingrouille’s note for the future:
Catch a train at either Holmesglen on the Glen Waverly Line or Ashburton on the Alamein Line. Change at Parliament, Melbourne Central or Flinders Street. Catch a tram or walk to the Town Hall. If this is not convenient, work really hard to bring Melbourne’s public transport system up to an acceptable level. Annual fee is $1094 (Zone 1). Use the balance of the $10K to fund part of an investigation into a new tram/metro system in Russell Street.