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Lib Policy: Don’t Look for Detail

March 11, 2011

If there were one transport policy where the NSW Liberals might reasonably be asked to offer a soupçon of detail it would be rapid bus transit to the northern beaches. There is, all agree, serious traffic congestion. There is no obvious solution and curbing any intensification of housing on the peninsular is only amelioration. Both the shadow treasurer and transport minister come from the region. Apart from fighting off the occasional independent, the Liberals own it.But Liberal references to the idea of a rapid bus transit are sandbagged with vagueness.

A bus route down the middle of Military Road, as suggested by Mike Baird, the shadow Treasurer, would demonstrably slow traffic. That is the first observation on the few references to the notion that shadow ministers have been making. The other is that buses running every three minutes, as Baird has suggested, would require fly-overs or tunnels at road junctions to prevent the blocking of cross traffic. There is no money to build them in the party’s policy.

Hang on, one might ask, is this a commitment ? Or a thought bubble ?

David Hensher, one of the consultants at last night’s Herald forum, is quoted saying a tunnel under Military Road is the only way to deliver time savings for bus commuters. Yet this fact stands out : there is no commitment to such a tunnel in Coalition policy.

I consulted Mike Baird’s speech in parliament on bus rapid transport delivered on September 2009. It makes no commitment – indeed no mention – of fly-overs or tunnels, let alone the big ticket item of an extra crossing for The Spit. If as Treasurer he calls for expressions of interest from the private sector – he asked the government to do so – he will quickly find that the required toll to partly subsidize a private tunnel would be exorbitant. Certainly that is what the present government found.

It is passing strange that with 16 years in opposition and with responsibility for the region in parliament the Libs have put no flesh on this particular policy bone. No identified route. No plan for fly-overs. No outline for a private sector tunnel.

They can enjoy broad grins, though, that nobody in the media has thought of pressing them for detail.

One Comment
  1. SLF permalink
    March 11, 2011 10:14 am

    I noticed Mike Baird carefully skipped around this topic when debating Roozendaal last week. Alarm bells rang immediately because as you say Bob, it’s his seat, the whole of the northern suburbs and beaches is Lib territory but they still can’t come up with a solution? Let them be. If they don’t come up with anything viable, Labor will when in opposition and the Lib voters will walk away in 2015 if they’re not seeing results from their own.

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