Comment: What’s with all those trains the Coalition has budgeted for?

12 May 2017

If you plan on attempting the masochistic task of deciphering the budget papers released by the Coalition this week, expect to find lots of talk on infrastructure. And expect lots and lots of trains.

Infrastructure was at the forefront of the 2017-18 Federal Budget, with Treasurer Scott Morrison announcing that the government will deliver $75 billion in infrastructure financing over the next ten years.

On the other hand, ScoMo didn’t think climate change was worth much of a mention, dedicating a measly $600,000 to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility – a comparatively small amount to $75 billion on infrastructure.

Rest assured that the exponentially warming planet won’t affect you when you’re sitting in the comfort of a shiny, new air conditioned train. Apparently, trains between capital cities and regional centres are even going to be going faster! Zoom, zoom! Maybe the Coalition has a master plan to speed us away from climate-induced catastrophe. Better luck next time, global warming.

Melbournians will be delighted that the government has announced it will be spending $30 million on a business case for a rail link to Tullamarine Airport. Fair enough, the $19 Sky Bus ticket is pretty excessive.

For students from interstate, perhaps this will make the trip home a little bit easier when left with no option but to move back in with Mum because buying a house means selling your soul.

Even the Myki fee for the train ride to the airport may be out of reach for those who receive welfare payments and dare to smoke the occasional joint. The government has announced that it will be conducting random drug testing of welfare recipients, and those who test positive are at risk of having their payments reduced or limited.

Thought Victoria physically couldn’t fit in anymore railways? Alas, more trains! If you enjoy occasional trips to country towns, you’re in for a treat, because the government is dedicating $500 million to duplications and upgrades of regional lines. The lucky ones include those who travel on the Geelong line, the North-East line and the Shepparton line.

It’s a soothing thought, knowing that I’ll be able to jump on a high-tech train to the middle of nowhere when I ponder the distressing fact that I’ll have to pay back my degree on a measly $42,000 a year salary.

Does the thought of your HECS debt keep you awake at night? Worried about an under-educated Australia? Another train will make you feel better!

The government is dedicating $8 billion to build a freight rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane, which is set to create 16,000 jobs for Australians. The link will utilise 1,200 kilometres of existing track, and an additional 500 kilometres will be built to cover the entire 1,700 kilometre journey. That’s a lot of railway.

This week, Scott Morrison taught me that Australia will be all good if we just keep investing in more trains. The Coalition promises that infrastructure spending will create economic growth, give opportunities to Australians, and make our lives easier.

If he’s wrong and everything goes to shit in the next few years, at least we’ll have lots of cool trains, right?

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