23/01/2013 - 04:39

The Lighter Note

23/01/2013 - 04:39


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The Lighter Note

Railing against roads?

Politics can be such a slippery affair, like a lively herring caught on a lazy late afternoon at the Rottnest jetty.

So The Note enjoys those rare moments when such public discourse is completely transparent. A good example is the City of Fremantle hosting an open public forum next week to debate the key issues in sustainable transport. The forum is billed as a platform for sustainable transport advocates to take political parties to task on their respective transport policies; but all we can see in the event’s announcement is the public transport lobby being set up to question political figures who were likely to agree with them. In fact it was hard to separate the advocates from the politicians.

Bearing the cudgels on our behalf on the advocate's panel will be Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute director Peter Newman, WA Greens Senator and bicycle aficionado Scott Ludlam, Wheatbelt Rail Retention Alliance activist Jane Fuchsbichler, and Fremantle Road2Rail's Gaye Page-Burt.

Trembling in fear will be opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers, Greens transport spokesperson Lynn MacLaren, Socialist Alliance candidate Sam Wainwright, and former state transport minister Max Trenordon of the National Party.

Nice that Greens are represented on both sides of the equation; let’s hope they don’t cheat by swapping questions and answers beforehand.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell, we were told, declined an invitation to attend and, to date, for the Liberal Party to be represented at the forum. Hmmmm, we can’t imagine why. Even someone as thick-skinned as the member for Busselton might want to avoid a set up when it is so obvious.

The Note wondered why the RAC or any other representative of mainstream road users was not on the bill.

Is there an assumption that cars are not sustainable? Don’t the organisers realise that the humble motor vehicle solved one of the 20th century’s greatest environmental, health and logistical issues? The automobile did away with the immense problem of feeding millions of horses in urban centres and dealing with the vast quantities of pollution they caused.

A word with you, Mr Johnston

Is the story above about a boondoggle?

It sounds like it, according to Wikipedia. On the website we are allowed to consult but not fully trust, a ‘boondoggle’ is a project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy motivations.

Perhaps we’d best ask Bill Johnston, state Labor’s energy spokesman, who used the term while lashing the WA government and Premier Colin Barnett for proposing to have state utility Verve Energy pay a contribution to a gas pipeline to Albany.

“If Mr Barnett forces Verve to pay part of the costs of his boondoggle, that cost will be passed on to electricity consumers,” Mr Johnston stated, forcefully.

Well it is 2013 and the term ‘pet project’ is so passe.



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