Politicians break promises all the time.
Big ones, small ones, implied ones, core and non-core promises - they all get broken.
Some get broken because circumstances change. Some get broken because they are no longer feasible. Still others are broken because the person or party who made them knows that no one really cares whether it is kept or not.
Some broken promises have little or no consequence, and certainly no negative result for a government.
|Core and non-core promises. Photo from here|
Sometimes this is undeserved. Perhaps the original promise has been mischaracterised, or the perhaps media's narrative makes the promise into a defining characteristic of a politician when it had no business being any such thing.
The obvious example is Gillard and the Carbon Tax. No matter what she achieves for the rest of her time as Prime Minister, whether that be for another 18 months or 18 years, it seems likely that the title of her biographies will involve a none-too-subtle pun on the Carbon Tax. It was a single, stupid sentence on a breakfast TV show at the end of a gruelling campaign, but it has coloured the entire country's perception of her.
O'Farrell has broken a heap promises in his time, and Labor has tried to convince the public that he has broken a whole lot more.
Others are big, but don't seem to have gained much traction to date.
This most recent effort, however, is a true whopper. And, worst of all (at least for him) there is going to be an ever present reminder of what a dumb decision he has made.
He may want to be the infrastructure premier, but if he goes about it like this then all the pain of finding money to build this network is going to be for naught.
O'Farrell campaigned hard on the North West Rail Link (NWRL) during the election. And he was right to do so - the present arrangements (tollways, large numbers of buses, constantly shifting bus-lanes, seemingly ever-present road work) is, and always was, at best a stop-gap. Heavy rail to the North-West was the only solution that was going to satisfy the new residents pouring into the area.
|Just one of the hundreds of articles on the topic. Original story here|
|The map at present|
The obvious problem that raises is that the North Shore line is a crowded one - and one where capacity cannot be increased much more. For safety reasons, there is a limit on how many trains can head across the Harbour Bridge in an hour - and we are pretty much already at that limit.
In other words, for every NWRL heading across the bridge during peak hour, a North Shore service would need to be cancelled.
Now, that problem can be partially alleviated by the fact that many people who would usually get a North Shore Service from a station south of Chatswood could hop on a NWRL service.
But, as I type this blogpost sitting on a North Shore train, I can assure you that many, many people get on North Shore trains well north of Chatswood.
Moreover, under current population planning for Sydney, councils have had to find space for new residents. At least on the North Shore, they have been finding that space by cramming apartments blocks in and around the train line. As those block are completed, even more people are going to be heading to the station to get to work.
This is not a new problem. It has been plainly obvious ever since the line was announced.
Presumably the O'Farrell government decided that it was all too hard. We haven't yet heard accusations of O'Farrell favouring the residents of his seat (a seat which covers just about every North Shore Line station north of Chatswood, but it surely won't be long.
So what is the government's new plan? The NWRL will simply be a shuttle running between Rouse Hill and Epping.
It's an awful plan. First of all, this may deal with the problem of having to squeeze the NWRL services over the bridge - but how does O'Farrell think these people are going to get to the city? They will need to hop onto a train heading to the city via Chatswood. More services will HAVE to be put on to deal with the extra passengers.
True it is that the new plan includes a new line a few km east of the North Shore line to scoop up some areas not presently served, and plans for the much needed new harbour crossing. But these plans are over a decade in the future. Construction of the NWRL will begin during this term. Heaven knows how many terms it will taken for this new harbour crossing to move off the plans into the real world.
|Photo by @sarethebear, the ABC's new NSW politics reporter|
But there can be no doubt - none whatsoever - that this broken promise is going to be one that that he is never allowed to forget. Whether he'll be forced to regret it will probably depend on whether his opponents can lift their game and make some criticism stick.