Following the Australian Labor Party's
(ALP) narrow re-election in the August 2010
Federal election, the ALP will need the support of every member of
the alliance (including two rural-based independents and Victorian
Greens MP, Adam Bandt) to pass legislation through the lower House.
In the upper House, the Greens will soon hold the balance of power.
In these circumstances the policies advocated by the Greens will be
of particular interest with respect to matters relating to
infrastructure and transport.
The Greens Party has identified a number of specific principles,
goals and measures with respect to sustainable planning and
transport including that:
They believe that Australia's transport system must
function on principles of ecological sustainability, equity of
access, and public ownership of critical public transport
They believe that transport planning must give high priority to
environmental and social impacts.
They believe that a high quality national rail network is
essential to a modern economy.
They want a transport system, including roads, railways,
airways and sealanes, that is safe, environmentally sound,
efficient and reliable.
They will include ecological sustainability as a funding
criterion for all Federal development and infrastructure
They will raise the rail network to a standard which enables
the operation of fast freight and passenger trains, including
between mainland capital cities.
It is in this context that the debate regarding the development
of a high-speed rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne has been
reignited, with the ALP announcing during its campaign that it
would allocate $20 million to a high-level feasibility study for
A study has recently been completed by AECOM (which specialises
in planning, designing and advising regarding infrastructure
systems internationally) in conjunction with Infrastructure
Partnerships Australia (an infrastructure lobby group) which
recommends the preservation of infrastructure corridors through the
Australian eastern seaboard. This will facilitate the development
of a long term infrastructure planning approach to ensure the
debated rail link remains a viable option.
High speed rail lines are already in operation throughout
Europe, the US and Asia, with significant further development
proposed in China.
High speed rail would compete with air travel between Melbourne
and Sydney, which is presently the world's third busiest air
The Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony
Albanese, is currently conducting a study in conjunction with the
New South Wales Government regarding the need for a second airport
for Sydney and has recently indicated that high-speed rail will not
solve all the issues in terms of access to Sydney.
In addition, the ALP also announced during campaigning that if
re-elected it would:
introduce a tax for Australian companies based upon ship
tonnage as opposed to profit (in line with tax systems in nations
including the US, the UK, France and Germany); and
introduce a proposal for an international ships register which
would enable the registration of Australian ships with foreign
shareholdings in order to facilitate Australia's participation
in international shipping.
The Greens and the ALP recently signed an agreement to ensure
stability of the ALP in Government under which the Greens will
ensure supply and oppose any motion of no confidence in the
Government from other parties or MPs. The ALP also agrees to
promote the national interest and address climate change. This
agreement will necessitate a high degree of cooperation between the
parties, particularly with respect to the significant proposals
regarding trade, transport and infrastructure.
With the increased influence of the Greens over the policy
agenda, the likely outcome will be an increased emphasis on rail
rather than roads as a solution for transport issues in the long
term and possibly less encouragement of aviation expansion and the
DLA Phillips Fox is one of the largest legal firms in
Australasia and a member of DLA Piper Group, an alliance of
independent legal practices. It is a separate and distinct legal
entity. For more information visit
This publication is intended as a first point of reference and
should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice.
Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to any
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