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National interest must come first in high speed rail conversation

Media Release
Janet Rice 14 Jul 2016

The Australian Greens have welcomed a fresh discussion about high speed rail in light of the proposal from Consolidated Land and Rail Australia, but warn that it's crucial that the infrastructure is built in the nation's interests, not to suit the profits of private property developers.

"Federal and state governments need to lead this cross-generational project, not just respond to the private sector," said Greens spokesperson for transport, Senator Janet Rice.

"High speed rail between Australia's eastern mainland cities is a nation-building project that will transform how we move around the country and will be central to the shift to a clean economy.

"The Greens want to see the Turnbull government get east coast high speed rail back on track, in the public interest. Australia and Antarctica are the only continents that don't have high speed rail. Now is the time to take action before the penguins beat us to it."

The Greens took a High Speed Rail plan to the federal election, as well as an infrastructure funding plan with its centrepiece being the Australian Infrastructure Bank financing proposal.

"We urgently need a High Speed Rail coordinating authority to bring governments together, plan the development transparently, complete environmental assessments, begin rail corridor reservations and determine what the best way to finance it would be," said Senator Rice.

"We think value capture could have a role to play, but we propose that smart use of government debt from a national infrastructure bank is likely to serve the interests of the Australian community more.

"The Greens have concerns about information absent from today's announced CLARA proposal, apparently due to commercial in confidence considerations. Being asked to ‘just trust us' is not good enough for a project of this scale."

 

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