Getting on with things – Pride, the UN and Qld’s oldest broken political promise

Despite the disruption of losing Senators and staff (and the Government winning control of the Senate), I have still had to keep busy with local and national issues. In some ways I have to keep busier than ever if I want to (a) cover the same number of issues with fewer Senators, (b) balance out the likely loss of some of the forums that previously existed in the Senate for issues to be explored and heard, and (c) get re-elected in Queensland.

Over the weekend, I attended the Pride Fair Day, where the Democrats have had a stall for many years. With Brian Greig’s departure from the Senate, I am keen to make sure that his legacy (and that of many others before him) of effective work and achievement promoting equal rights for people of all sexualities and gender statuses is not lost.

On the Saturday night I went to a United Nations Association dinner marking the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter.

On Sunday I went to a community meeting of people campaigning for the building of the Petrie to Kippa Ring Railway. This goes through an area which has one of the fastest and largest population growths in the country. The land to build it on is already in Government hands. The highway through the area carrying all the traffic up to the Sunshine Coast, already gets severely clogged at peak times, is expected to have traffic doubled and has already had a fortune spent on it.

The railway to Redcliffe – a city on Moreton Bay on a peninsula just north of Brisbane – was first proposed around the end of the 19th Century and is probably Queensland’s oldest and most regularly broken political promise. I have a natural preference for favouring investment in public transport and in favouring rail over road. Despite this, I do acknowledge that rail is not always the best solution. However, putting a rail link through to Redcliffe seems clearly beneficial and cost effective, and it truly baffles me that somehow or other successive Queensland Governments keep talking themselves out of it.

This piece by Peter Spearitt from the Brisbane Institute (pointed out by Benno in a comment to this posting) shows the bizarre aversion to rail that appears to permeate the Queensland Government. It doesn’t mention the Redcliffe rail link, but makes a strong case for rail lines being extended through to Coolangatta and Maroochydore and shows some of the curious logic that seems to be driving infrastructure spending in other directions.

UPDATE: I’m informed that Redcliffe City Council voted unanimously on July 4th to support the construction of the railway and to lobby the Beattie Government. The Council also voted to seek to establish a joint committee with Pine Rivers and Caboolture Councils to lobby for the railway. This is a good sign, particularly as there is widely expected to be a by-election before the end of the year for the state seat of Redcliffe, currently held for the Labor government by the Speaker Ray Hollis (who some may not know was number 2 on the Democrats’ Queensland Senate ticket in 1984, with a person called Cheryl Kernot number 4 on the same ticket). A by-election would provide an ideal chance to pressure the State government to change their mind and deliver on this promise. There’s still a long way to go, but a well organised campaign at community level with a well argued case can sometimes achieve a lot.

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  1. My father was a senior manager with Australian National Railways before it was privatised. One of his favourite sayings was – “People love trains, they just don’t like travelling on them”.
    He would tell stories of how people would whinge that trains no longer go through their town, but when they did no one used them.
    That might explain why many politicians shy away from building rail lines they know will never be used and would lose bucketloads of money.

  2. Mike
    That’s why I tempered my comments by saying that rail might not be the best in every circumstance, despite my own preferences.
    I remember my father (who was an engineer) used to love telling the story of representatives from the Gold Coast going to see the state Govt back in the 1960s or 70s to plead for the preservation of the passenger rail line from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and being quizzed by the Qld Treasurer (Gordon Chalk I think) as to how they enjoyed their train trip up to Brisbane – the twist being that of course they drove up like everyone else.
    However, my modern rejoinder to him 20 years later (I always was a bit slow with the sharp response) would be to point to how they rebuilt that Gold Coast line – at huge expense – after having torn it up and sold some of the land. The same thing happened with the line out to Redlands Shire.
    I’m told the Gold Coast line now has good patronage, and I’d be very sure the one to Redcliffe would do even better, especially as the highway north clogs up.
    It also worth comparing it to the cost of endlessly widening and duplicating highways and bridges – hugely expensive and costing a fortune and definitely ‘running at a loss’. and that’s before you factor in externalities like the cost of traffic accidents and air pollution.

  3. What “Gold Coast” train line? I was on holiday in Surfers and needed to take the train to Brisbane. Loaded with luggage, I had to take a municipal bus on an extended tour of a shopping centre, Carrara Oval, and various other bits and pieces; half an hour later I actually arrived at the train station in central nowhere.
    Why isn’t there a Gold Coast line that actually goes to the Gold Coast? Did the Bjelke-Petersen approach to urban planning manage to screw things up so badly that it’s simply impossible to build one anywhere near tourists want to go?

  4. Dear Robert,
    Your comment about there not being a rail line that goes to the business area of Surfers Paradise is correct. That is why they have a bus service there to link in with the line that generally follows the course of the Motorway from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. There are priority buses that quickly get from the main tourist areas to the rail but they are not publicised much and hence few people know of them.There are plans to both expand the bus services and also build a light rail to cover the area you are talking about and link it to the rail. one of the biggest problems on the Gold Coast is the co-ordination(or lack of) between different ypes of public transport and many community groups are trying to do something about it.
    Russell White

  5. where the stations are on the gold coast are fine, surfside has 2 to 3 buses waiting outside robina station to take you to ether surfers paradise or coolangatta. i just wish they hurry up & connect robina to murwillumbah

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