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.

JOHN AUSTEN – More on the Sydney transport mess-the Western Sydney dud ‘deal’

Announcement of a Western Sydney ‘city deal’ by the Prime Minister and Premier was touted as securing a rail line through Badgerys Creek airport. It does not. In fact, it merely committed to yet another review about what to do. That may … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Immigration and infrastructure.

While immigration – and a big Australia – is presented as the cause of infrastructure woe the real culprit is policy failure: deficient planning, bad structural arrangements and absence of road congestion pricing.  

Posted in Infrastructure, Refugees, Immigration | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. We need a Metro public inquiry in NSW to sort out the railway mess

A recent opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Heaald effectively called for a stop to criticism of the NSW Government’s approach to Sydney railways – in particular Metro – and for everyone to get onboard the transport ‘revolution’. I can’t … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. The roads club is having a great spend.

Overspending on roads may be already damaging national productivity as well as adding to debt burdens of future generations. 

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JOHN AUSTEN. NSW needs an inquiry into Sydney transport

A dreadful start to 2018 for Sydney transport made NSW Minister Constance the unwelcome centre of attention.  The spotlight will turn to the Premier who was formerly the Minister for Transport.

Posted in Infrastructure | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Newcastle port – some progress in undoing a privatisation fiasco

Pressure is mounting to overcome the ridiculous anti-competitive constraints on Newcastle port.

Posted in Infrastructure, Politics | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Roads – another year of inaction and congestion-causing deficits

Spending on roads continues to vastly outstrip road revenues, increasing our national debt. This easy access to funding is why we spend too much on the wrong roads and has stopped road reform – as stated in a post in … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN: What will it take to kick off a serious enquiry into the Sydney transport mess?

While readers relax over the Christmas break, Commonwealth advisers and politicians should be asking about the Sydney infrastructure mess.  

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. The NSW infrastructure mess keeps getting worse

This is an update on Sydney’s infrastructure puff piece saga. Previous articles in Pearls and Irritations pointed out that the NSW Government led by the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP does not understand infrastructure.  The draft 40-year plans for transport and … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Trouble in NSW infrastructure paradise, Part 2.

This is a second instalment about the onslaught of NSW infrastructure puff pieces.

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JOHN AUSTEN. Trouble in infrastructure paradise, NSW Part 1 of 2

Sydney readers are being subjected to an onslaught of infrastructure puff pieces featuring former Transport Minister now Premier the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP.  It coincides with a desire to ‘showcase the Government’s infrastructure credentials’ and raise the Premier’s profile.  It also … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN – Road pricing; an update

Reports about the Grattan Institute’s assessment of Sydney and Melbourne traffic is the latest re-ignition of road pricing arguments.  However, the risk that policy falls further into the hands of vested interests needs to be addressed.  There is an urgent … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Priorities for Infrastructure Australia.

The new Infrastructure Australia chair said the organisation is open to ideas and seeks priorities from the public.   Sitting in the public gallery I suggest three priorities: (1) revisit some of its advice; (2) set out the Commonwealth’s role; and (3) … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Doubts about infrastructure go beyond Sydney Metro.

John Menadue recently asked for an open public inquiry into the NSW Metro scheme.  Given the momentous questions about that scheme and its supposed evaluation there is no doubt such an inquiry must be Australia’s highest infrastructure priority.

Posted in Infrastructure | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Infrastructure advice – worse than expected.

Previous articles in this blog suggested serious problems in Australia’s infrastructure assessment and approvals arrangements – upon which tens of billions pivot.  The recent Sydney and South-West Metro Rail review by Infrastructure Australia provides troubling evidence of this problem. 

Posted in Infrastructure | 4 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Infrastructure in Australia- the continuing policy confusion and advisory mess.

Infrastructure Australia’s ‘reform’ reports and its updated priority list – which assesses particular projects – add to evidence about problems with infrastructure advice.  This article deals with the latest reform report – corridor protection – and the resulting depressing high … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Road spending incurs billion dollar new debts annually – nobody notices (Repost from 27 June 2016)

It’s traditional that election time in Canberra brings out the road lobbies who ask for ‘all that extra cash’ which governments raise from fuel excise to be ‘put back into our roads’. The problem is that the facts no longer … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Does Infrastructure Australia understand its ideas for public transport franchising?

A recent report by Infrastructure Australia recommends franchising state public transport services, with Commonwealth incentives for so doing. It claimed that this would realise around $16 bn of financial savings, which could be spent on infrastructure. The report assumed there … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Infrastructure misuse and mistakes – the Hume Highway.

The value of infrastructure depends on how well it is used. Australia’s main infrastructure problem is misuse of what we have; a symptom of an absence of sensible policies, advisory failures and lobbying to build monuments to keep the concrete … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN: The Commonwealth is ‘meddling’ in NSW rail – at last!

There are indications the Prime Minister wishes to modernise infrastructure policy.   Reports regarding rail to Badgerys Creek highlight the discomfort this causes to the NSW Government- and enormous benefits if the Prime Minister gets Commonwealth involvement right.  

Posted in Infrastructure, Media | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. Where to for Commonwealth infrastructure policy?

Legend has it that Charlton Heston flashed a Rolex wristwatch during a chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur movie. Some recent Prime Ministerial comments could be considered flashes of a policy Rolex in an infrastructure discussion fitted to the … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

JOHN AUSTEN. NSW rail projects – a lot of explaining to do

Yet more questions arise about projects set off by former NSW Transport Minister now Premier Ms Berejiklian. This time about light rail. As for the port privatisations and metro, real answers are yet to come. The sooner a Commonwealth inquiry … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. The Sydney metro – the doubt and mess continues.

A little more real information about Sydney rail development is coming to light. It is not dispelling the doubts about metro. A decision on Badgerys Creek rail, which would have been straightforward without the metro, is now ‘years off’. The … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. The Premier and privatisation; selling silverware for transport tupperware?

Commentators on Premier Baird’s years focussed on short term matters such as money from privatisations or inconvenience caused by infrastructure building. The most important question, the merit of infrastructure built with sale proceeds, may take years to answer. NSW will … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. Badgerys Creek – testing times

The new airport at Badgerys Creek will test national competition and state transport infrastructure policies and may reveal the latter to be gravely flawed. The usual Commonwealth-state funding fight spectacle should be treated as a trivial pantomime and not distract … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Roads – another year of congestion-causing deficits

We are spending enormous sums on roads and increasing our national debt. Communities are being seriously disrupted and the congestion is increasing. When will we put a stop to this nonsense?  

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Sydney, metro again: $10billion more to ‘build something later’?

John Austen suggests that the NSW government’s approach to railways is at least back-to-front and probably misconceived. 

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JOHN AUSTEN. Sydney Metro – a disaster in store.

The public has been given no serious justification for why Sydney needs a separate, distinct and very expensive new rail system like Metro. All we have is a very big bill and more on the horizon. Sydney could spend almost … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

JOHN AUSTEN. Urban rail projects: property developers should be servants not masters

There is plenty of advice on how to plug the supposed infrastructure gap in Australia’s big cities. One popular idea is for passenger rail projects to be led and funded by property development. [1] The idea has intuitive appeal. The … Continue reading

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JOHN AUSTEN. How port privatisation will hobble Newcastle

Commonwealth action is necessary to undo potential penalties on Newcastle Port. While the infrastructure conversation focusses on major projects like electricity grids it can ignore more significant matters. One such matter in NSW that deserves immediate attention is port privatisations. … Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Infrastructure, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments