Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Driving Ambition?

The criticism of O'Farrell's draft 20-year Master Plan has been almost universal.

It's surprising, and a little unfair, but not unexpected.

The people at the Terrorgraph have continued their campaign to paint O'Farrell as being a dithering planner rather than the bold doer they would rather write about.
Full editorial here
That criticism is not without basis. O'Farrell has showed himself to be quick to plan and slow to do.

Other papers have focused on the lack of confirmed funding for plans. Whilst the projects highlighted in the plan are categorised as being short, medium or long-term, there is no specific information as to how the projects will be paid for.

Precisely how the state of the budget in 2020 is meant to be predicted accurately enough to say that a project will be paid for in a certain way is beyond me.

That said, the plan is still only a draft - we won't get the final version until later this year. Plus, it's a PLAN - not a budget.

O'Farrell does deserve credit for planning in this way. An oft-repeated and richly deserved criticism of Labor's history of transport planning is that it was all "back-of-the-envelope" stuff - plans announced and then dropped before you knew it.

If ever an area of public policy required forward planning, it is transport. It is appropriate and commendable that these steps are being taken.

The problem for O'Farrell is that the public is restless for more action.
Full story on the Herald Sun site
That's not all O'Farrell's fault - he is being forced to carry the can for the failings of his predecessors. People are all out of patience.

He's snookered in because he came to power talking big about infrastructure and transport - but his budget just doesn't have the space.

These projects are going to be hugely, massively expensive - and he is committed to starting the North-West Rail link soon. This all in the face of a shrinking tax base and the exploding cost of the public service.

When the retrospectives are being written, no one is going to remember whether announced funding at this time, or the number of plans released.

What will be remembered is whether O'Farrell, like the Labor Premiers before him, announced then shelved plans, never once showing the citizen an ounce of respect.

Did he deliver on his promises? That's the question that matters.

PS Memo to John Robertson: No, you can't criticise yet. Give it a decade.

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