In tough economic times Government usually spends big on infrastructure. The Federal Government’s multi-billion dollar “cash splash” (around $8 billion AUD) has failed to make Australia stronger for the future and has further indebted the nation by increasing public debt and allowed households to make stupid decisions which adds to household debt.
I know several people who used the $900 they received to purchase new plasma televisions. This has added nothing to the long term strength of our economy and has encouraged the type of outrageous consumerism that has played out to cause the current crisis the world is facing. Consumer or household debt in Australia has risen from $700 billion AUD just 10 years ago to over $3.5 trillion AUD today.
Without question our regional cities are hurting more than our Capitals. The First Home Owner Grant has pushed prices up and made housing less affordable and our Government appears to have no solution to the problem. The average first home buyer is borrowing an additional $52,000 than they were just 2 years ago – the evidence is clear that housing values have been artificially increased. So what is the solution?
Sydney is sprawling and the Government’s answer has been to build Motorways that resemble car parks for those unfortunate enough to live outside of the Greater CBD. These people (many of whom can least afford it) are forced to pay up to $100 per week in tolls for the privilege of driving to and from work at the snail pace that the inadequate roads provide for. The growth of regional cities has been ignored and the urban sprawl continues.
Sydney is by far the largest city in New South Wales with a population of around 4.4 million people. To the south of Sydney is the regional city of Wollongong with a population of 280,000 and to the north of Sydney are the cities of Gosford and Newcastle – both with populations of around 300,000 people. These three coastal cities with enormous potential have been consistently ignored. All 3 cities could provide fantastic solutions to the problem of housing affordability if infrastructure was in place.
So what is needed? Fast rail links to Sydney from all three cities is essential. It currently takes around 3 hours to get to Newcastle by rail and up to an hour to reach Wollongong from Sydney. AVE trains in Spain travel at up to 300 km per hour (186mph) and similar high speed trains operate throughout Europe and Asia. The XPT trains in New South Wales crawl through the Central Coast at an average speed of just 70 km per hour and an average of just over 50 km per hour from Grafton to Sydney – hardly a high speed train!
This would provide vital infrastructure for the State’s second, third and fourth largest cities and would allow for the development of international airports in all three cities, providing the powerhouse for job creation, tourism and growth. Instead of forgetting our regional cities we could put infrastructure in place to allow for business to relocate outside of Sydney to reduce costs and improve quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people. Importantly housing affordability in all 3 cities is excellent – what a wasted opportunity. As the World’s largest Island the need for high speed transport in Australia cannot be understated.