Saturday, May 25, 2013

Make national parks and reserves a matter of national environmental significance

Open letter to Tony Burke MP, Minister for Environment

Dear Tony,

Please ensure our National Parks are protected from destructive practices such as mining, logging and grazing across Australia.  This is an issue of critical importance.

National parks are the cornerstone of our conservation effort. They protect not just native plants and animals, but whole ecosystems. They also provide clean water, air and opportunities for rest, recreation and respite for millions of Australians and visitors alike.

But despite their title, the national (Australian) government has very little to do with most national parks at present.

State governments across Australia are talking about offering up our national parks for logging, grazing, mining, large-scale tourism developments and other destructive practices for short-term political or commercial gain.

The damage this would cause would last for generations. The Federal Government needs to act now, in this session of Parliament, to protect our national parks and reserves system.

I ask that as a matter of urgency and in order to stop destructive logging, grazing and mining in national parks, that you please table the necessary legislation under the EPBC Act to make national parks and reserves a matter of national environmental significance.

This would be a truly great legacy for nature and national parks.

External links

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Napthine Government plans $8b underground carpark

Denis Napthine, Michael O'Brien and the Liberal government have just made a disastrous and very expensive mistake.

They announced that their priority "transport" project for Melbourne was to spend $8b digging a tunnel to connect the Eastern Freeway with the Tullamarine Freeway.

After 80 years for constructing hundreds of kilometres of high volume roads (freeways and tollways) across Victoria and into Melbourne, we still have chronic congestion.

During this period:
  • no new passenger railway lines have been constructed in Melbourne since the Glen Waverley line was built in 1930.  
  • Melbourne has grown from a city of 1 million to nearly 5 million in 2013.
Denis Napthine (Premier), Michael O'Brien (Treasurer) and Terry Mulder (Transport Minister) don't seem to realise that cars and roads cannot provided a workable mass transport system.  A visit to Los Angeles proves this beyond doubt.  They are now building a metro rail network in that big city.

Simple mathematics eludes our politicians:
  • One train of 8 carriages can carry 1000 people.  A train line can move 50,000 people an hour.
  • One freeway/tollway lane can move 2,500 people an hour.
  • Four freeway/tollway lanes can move 10,000 people an hour.
  • One train line moves the same number of people as twenty freeway lanes
The RACV have gleefully announced that the Napthine Government is "investing in critical transport infrastructure".  It is clear that their lobbying has been very effective, as always.

Michael O'Brien said "this is nation-building infrastructure - just look at CityLink".  O'Brien obviously hasn't looked at the stationary cars and trucks on City Link trying to get through the Burnley Tunnel, or the traffic jams on every major "freeway/tollway" the commuters try to use to get to Melbourne.

Denis Napthine has challenged the Federal Labor government to provide funds for this project, even though there is no business case for it.  Tony Abbot has announced he will commit $1.5b to the project if he becomes prime minister.

Foolish politics politics is condemning Melbourne to ongoing chronic traffic congestion and providing people with no viable transport alternative.

These people also don't seem to understand that the destination of over 90% of the people driving on the Eastern Freeway is inner Melbourne so they won't benefit from a tunnel link to the Tullamarine Freeway/Tollway.

If this "East-West tunnel" is built it too will block up with cars and become the world's most expensive underground car park.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel is a rail project that formed out of recommendations in the Eddington Report.  The Napthine Government has only funded ongoing "planning" for this.  The Federal Labor Government has allocated $3 billion to this project, contingent on the Napthine Government also allocating $3 billion, which they have refused to do.  Tony Abbott has also ruled out providing funding for the rail project.

However, I am not convinced that the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel - that would provide an underground rail line from Foostcray to Caulfield - is the best rail option for Melbourne.  The authors of the Eddington Report, including Peter Newman, claim this project is "required to increase capacity in the existing rail network to allow new suburban rail lines to be built".  But they did not do an holistic study of Melbourne's rail network - their brief was only to assess "east west transport needs".

Personally, I think we need, in priority order the:
  1. Rowville line, also connecting Monash University.  Shuttle service to the Dandenong line with a people interchange
  2. Doncaster line, connecting near Clifton Hill
  3. Melbourne Airport line, connecting Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross station
  4. Melbourne outer loop underground - a circle line connecting South Melbourne, South Yarra, Richmond, Fitzroy, Carlton, Melbourne University, Docklands and Southern Cross.
Unfortunately, all we will get for the coming decades are more clogged roads that will become underground car parks.

Golding, The Age