Author Archives: John Austen

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About John Austen

John Austen is a happily retired former senior official of Infrastructure Australia living in Western Sydney. Details are at thejadebeagle.com.

Sydney’s Metro mania is policy based on vanity

Is it of interest that a 2018 study by Transport for NSW and its federal counterpart into rail connections to Sydney’s second airport was made at roughly the time the same the federal portfolio spent $30 million to buy land … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

Transport infrastructure: our States biggest waste

The Reserve Bank governor recently asked States to support jobs – by spending $40 billion more on infrastructure. Please don’t – at least not on the usual transport projects!

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JOHN AUSTEN. High Speed Rail – shooting a corpse?

The Grattan Institute’s recent condemnation of high-speed rail is fair enough.  However, its further speculations on ‘renovating regional rail’ and urban commuting need questioning.

Posted in Infrastructure | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Transport infrastructure in a Covid world

Governments made dramatic responses to challenges posed by Covid-19. New ideas are being sought in many areas of public policy. However, transport infrastructure is a lamentable exception – instead of a reassessment of plans in light of the new realities, … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Another year of record waste on roads

In the past few years Pearls etc carried posts on how road spending vastly exceeded road related revenue even though road use had not much increased – a perversion of public policy helping the infrastructure lobby at the expense of … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Placating the Infrastructure Club

Infrastructure Australia’s 2020 priority list doesn’t recognise – let alone address fundamental problems.

Posted in Infrastructure | 5 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Sydney Metro developments

Are recent developments with Sydney’s Metro railway straws in the wind or embers heralding an infrastructure inferno?

Posted in Infrastructure | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Electric Vehicle Charging

Recently the question of road charges for electric light vehicles – cars – hit the headlines. Opinions split into: those who want such charges to collect funds for road building; those opposed to such charges because they might slow the … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Sydney and the mock Metro

The Sydney Metro saga continues, with renewed – and still unrealistic – promises of a $20bn west Metro giving travellers a 20-minute trip from Parramatta to the CBD. Talk of this, and progress with tunnelling under the CBD, must be … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Infrastructure Claims – Above the law?

Ongoing urging of infrastructure proposals for Commonwealth funding exacerbates already high moral hazard. Yet nothing is done to discourage the possibility of illegal behaviour costing Australia dearly.

Posted in Infrastructure | 5 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Infrastructure Australia’s ‘believe it or not’ audit

Last week saw media coverage of Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 infrastructure audit.  The hype was short lived.  The audit was another analytically deficient step towards a transport policy abyss into which the infrastructure club wants to throw vast amounts of your … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Post-election infrastructure review

The NSW and Federal 2019 elections saw the return of Coalition Governments.  My perspective – from western Sydney – is: Coalition infrastructure policies have been dreadful, Labor’s offerings weren’t any better.

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JOHN AUSTEN. Fast rail – apologies please from perpetrators.

A  recent post said politicians should not ‘bite the bullet’ on high speed rail – but  apologise for money wasted; unrealistic expectations fanned; incompetence.  It suggested a start with Newcastle – a city dudded by bureaucrats. Better still would be policy … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 5 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW infrastructure: who is fit to govern?

Readers of Pearls and Irritations may have followed the transport infrastructure fiasco in NSW under conservative governments led first by Mr O’Farrell, then Mr Baird and now by one-time Transport Minister and Treasurer, Ms Berejiklian. Several reports last week put an … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. High speed rail – Please don’t bite the bullet.

The Federal Opposition recently got media attention for high speed rail by exhorting Australia to ‘bite the bullet’.   Australians should indeed ‘bite the bullet’ on high speed rail – by demanding public apologies for failures: large amounts of public money … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Transport for an incoming NSW Government.

NSW faces an election in March.  This note – to help an incoming government – draws on transport matters identified in Pearls etc.  It won’t be in the incoming government’s briefs.  Never mind – people who matter read Pearls! 

Posted in Infrastructure | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. WestConnex inquiry report.

The Parliamentary inquiry into WestConnex is the type of thing that should happen before any major infrastructure project starts.  However, it let the project off too lightly.

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JOHN AUSTEN. Public inquiries into NSW infrastructure projects.

The former NSW Opposition Leader proposed a judicial inquiry into WestConnex and Sydney Light Rail.  The new Opposition Leader wants public inquiries into major infrastructure projects.  The NSW Transport Minister called this a ‘hairbrained idea’ saying projects are already subject to … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW farce rail

NSW Premier Berejiklian says her Government will ‘deliver a fast rail network slashing travel times across the State.’  Work will commence in the next term of Government and won’t wait for the Commonwealth – NSW will go it alone! 

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JOHN AUSTEN. A report by Infrastructure Australia on outer urban transport.

A recent report on outer urban public transport by IA  provides some interesting information .But much better understanding and analysis is needed before more resources are wasted and communities made worse off . 

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JOHN AUSTEN. Pain before more pain and then no gain in Berejiklian’s growing Sydney transport mess

The NSW Government says there is an ‘amazing’ light at the end of the tunnel with the closure of the Epping-Chatswood line that is part of the Metro project.  The analogy is apt. An approaching light in a railway tunnel … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 5 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN – A public Inquiry into Sydney Metro is essential (Part 2)

Only a public inquiry can cut through the nonsense surrounding Sydney Metro and advise on what to do.

Posted in Infrastructure | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN – Inquiry into Sydney Metro (Part 1)

We are told Sydney Metro will overcome capacity constraints on Sydney’s rail network.  This is false.  Only a public inquiry can reveal the truth and advise on what to do.  This is the first of two articles following-up John Menadue’s … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Sydney’s transport mess will now envelop Badgerys Creek Airport

Instead of turning sods at Badgerys Creek airport, the new Prime Minister should order a public inquiry into Sydney Metro  and the mess it will create.The newly helmeted Prime Minister recently appeared in the media turning first sods at the … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Bill Shorten and Western Sydney Rail.

Mr Shorten has the right intentions about Western Sydney Rail but he needs to read Pearls and Irritations more carefully!  

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JOHN AUSTEN. Sydney Metro: the $60billion dollar deception

Here are some starters for the Sydney Metro inquiry.

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JOHN AUSTEN. Australian freight policy: after the chainsaw? Part 3

A recent report on freight and supply chains leads Governments astray. This is the last of three articles seeking to put them back on course.

Posted in Infrastructure | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Australian freight policy: where is my chainsaw . Part2.

A recent report on freight and supply chains leads Governments astray.  This is the second of three articles seeking to put them back on course.

Posted in Infrastructure | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Australian freight policy: where is my chainsaw? Part 1 of 2.

A recent report on freight and supply chains leads governments astray.  This the first of two articles challenging its view that more bureaucracy and data is needed to deal with a supposedly ubiquitous task. 

Posted in Infrastructure | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Revolving doors at the infrastructure club

Infrastructure Australia should be made a Commission and do its work in public.

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment