Thursday, 18 February 2010

Spending other people's money

is apparently easy for politicians. The state election campaign does not officially start until Saturday. Unofficially they have been at it for weeks in the 'nicest' political sort of way - spending money they do not have. There is the usual competition to outspend each other with promises they will not keep because they cannot afford to keep them. We, the voters, know that but we like to believe that we believe the opposite.
This time however they may have gone too far. Adelaide has a Southern Expressway. This road has a peculiar almost one way system. In the morning there are more lanes open going into the city. In the evening there are more lanes open going out of the city. It is probably dangerous but it was done to save money. Now both government and opposition say they intend to fix it. I rather suspect that is impossible. Why? People travel further than the portion they say they intend to fix. The population (and thus the number of cars on the road) is increasing all the time.
There are plans - but only plans - to extend the railway a short distance south. This is not the answer either. There are also plans to put a freeway to the north but, so far, no serious thoughts about extending rail passenger transport.
Adelaide's problem is that it is built on a coastal strip and it is not long before you reach a hilly barrier - the southern end of the Flinders Ranges, known as Mount Lofty Ranges. In terms of height these are low but they are still a barrier and people have been building north and south for years. We need a rail service as far as Victor Harbor on the south coast and Clare up in the north. We need a rail service to Murray Bridge in the east. Why? People commute from these places. They may not want to use public transport but they must, I believe, learn to do so.
Until they do that they will, like politicians, spend other people's money. It will be spent on roads and road maintenance, on policing, on insurance, on greenhouse gas emitters (aka as cars) and on policing, on all the services that come into play when there is an incident or, worse, an accident. Everyone pays for these things, not just those who use the roads when they do not really need to do so. Cocooning yourself in a steel cage with heating or cooling according to season and entertainment via radio or music player and with illegal access to a mobile 'phone is a comfortable, selfish way of getting to work. Yes some people need their vehicles for the purposes of work but, for many, it is selfishness and laziness that causes them to use their car -and to be the sole person in it.
Spending other people's money comes easily to most of us it would seem. The government should not be encouraging this.


Tony said...

At my local station, located in one of the fastest-growing (and far-flung) municipalities in Melbourne, the State Government has built a new car park. They just haven't opened it yet.

It has been standing there since before Christmas, with the entrances blocked off by lumps of concrete and storm fences. I asked the man at the station today when he thought it would be open. He replied that he had heard a rumour yesterday that the opening was being held off until nearer the time of the next state election (November) so that the government can score brownie points...

catdownunder said...

Time to write a few letters to the Age I think. :-)

Rachel Fenton said...

We've got a similar daft bridge in Auckland - made with only a couple of lanes, though more were obviously needed, then more were "clipped on"! Safe for another ten years allegedly - so long as no heavy lorries drive on at the same time!

The road where our Mayor lives has just been resurfaced - it's a dead end, with lots of other dead ends branching off it - exclusively dead end streets - there was nothing wrong with it before. Then there's the bridge that's costing a fortune (nearly a million dollars) to erect over a two foot wide (at high tide) creek! That is near the bottom of the Mayor's road too - coincidence?

catdownunder said...

Ooohh a big coincidence Rachel - I bet you believe in that coincidence as much as I do...or am I being too cynical?