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It’s time to build publicly owned High Speed Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane, say Greens

Media Release
Janet Rice 3 Mar 2019

The Australian Greens will fund High Speed Rail in full, with the first step to create the Australian High Speed Rail Authority and make an initial equity investment of $1.6 billion for the first stages of planning and land reservation.

“For decades, Australians have dreamt about High Speed Rail along our east coast. It would be nation building at its best: big, bold and transformative,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens transport spokesperson.

“Governments up till now have refused to take action because of risk aversion and capitulation to private interests, despite studies showing the feasibility, high public benefit and strong economics of High Speed Rail.”

“High Speed Rail will connect our cities with our regions, reduce carbon pollution, create tens of thousands of jobs and provide a return to the taxpayer.”

“The Greens will turn these dreams into reality, and fund High Speed Rail in full, built in the public interest.”

“In contrast, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese announced this week that the Labor party would support High Speed Rail with ‘private funding.’”

“It also appears the Morrison government is planning to hand over this nation-building project to a private developer, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia.”

“The CLARA project banks on developers making money from massive increases in the value of land along the route, building stations and new cities rather than building stations in existing towns like Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga.”

“This would mean instead of High Speed Rail unlocking the economic potential of our existing regional cities, these established towns would struggle to compete with the new cities built around new stations.”

“Construction of High Speed Rail stations both up and down the east coast and in the heart of our central business districts will immensely increase the value of surrounding land. Private developers who see their property values rise should not simply get a windfall gain. By using a variety of taxes and charges, they will be made to contribute to the overall cost of building the project.”

“High Speed Rail needs to be built in the public interest, not to line the pockets of private developers. For decades, Labor and Liberal governments have privatised our essential services, which are then run to maximise profit for corporate investors, not to serve the people.”

“Australia is the last continent without High Speed Rail except for Antarctica. Will the penguins beat us to it?”

Route details

Line 1: Sydney to Melbourne (2 hours 44 mins) with spur lines for Sydney to Canberra (1 hour) and Melbourne to Canberra (2 hours 30 mins).

Line 2: Sydney to Brisbane (2 hours 37 mins) with a spur line for Sydney to Gold Coast (similar time)

Options for value capture recommended by the High Speed Rail Study include:

  • Property taxes.
  • Sale of bonus gross floor area (GFA)
  • Property transfer (stamp) duties
  • Sale or lease of air rights over public road reserves, railway corridors and other property
  • Sale or lease of surplus development sites
  • Parking levies
  • Developer contributions
  • Special rates or taxes on a defined improvement district
  • Hotel taxes

The commissioned phase two report laying down a plan for rolling out the High Speed Rail Project in several stages can be found here. The Greens will implement the accelerated timetable envisaged in the report.

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