There’s a lot of soul searching today over whether selling off Australia’s essential assets and services was a good idea …

IS it because …

The end result has been price gouging and, in some cases, greater inefficiency?

A biggie in 2017 was the privatisation of the

RECOMMEND you view the comments … as commentators say it as it is …

CAAN has selected these:

-Even thought it is a failure, the government still continues with it. NSW government to privatize the remaining Sydney bus routes.

-What do expect? They’ve got to go somewhere when they’re not re-elected.

-and the ferries –


Privatisation has failed

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

November 7, 2019 | 12 comments

There’s a lot of soul searching today over whether selling-off Australia’s essential assets and services was a good idea.

*The first salvo comes from Howard Government transport minister, John Sharp, who admits privatising the nation’s major airports was a mistake that is costing consumers dearly:

*Mr Sharp regretted his failure to impose more stringent regulation on the crucial infrastructure when they left public hands in 1996 and said the process had failed to protect travellers from greed.

“It was a mistake,” he told The Australian Financial Review. “They are blatantly profiteering.”

“The one thing we should have done is provided airports with a more significant set of rules to protect the public interest and kept them in place right through to today”

*“I should have given the ACCC responsibility for not just monitoring but administering that particular regulation.”

Handing a natural airport monopoly over to private operators was always going to lead to price gouging. It’s economics 101. The same could be said for privatising the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure via Telstra, which we are now paying dearly for in compensation for the NBN.

Former Liberal leader, John Hewson, similarly laments the privatisation of various essential services and institutions:

The aged care royal commission has exposed shameful negligence and abuse.

*…vocational training, prisons, toll roads, airports and hospital services such as parking, public/private partnerships skewed in favour of private operators, and about those who profit personally by exploiting privileged market positions and restrictive trade practices

Ironically, many of the now privately owned businesses that provide essential services resulted from past privatisation of public assets.

*While these were mostly justified and sold at the time as a mechanism to achieve market discipline, lower costs and greater efficiency, they were driven much more by political and budgetary consideration of maximising the selling price, usually ignoring the market circumstances into which they were being sold, and failing to specify the required services to be provided by the privatised entity.

Markets are only as good as the institutional and regulatory frameworks within which the market forces are to be “free” to operate. Regulatory frameworks set to achieve a maximum selling price are usually unlikely to provide an appropriate competitive structure, nor guarantee socially acceptable service outcomes, in the longer-term…

Clearly, it is time for government and society more broadly to address what has become a most unfortunate trade-off between profit and the quality and availability of essential services.

There are three general criteria for ensuring privatisation is in the public interest:

  1. it should increase competition within the relevant market, not lessen it;
  2. the upfront funds received from the asset sale should outweigh the expected net present value of future profits; and
  3. with respect to new infrastructure, the social benefits should exceed its social costs.

Unfortunately, most of Australia’s privatisations have not met these criteria, instead placing short-term financial windfalls above longer-term competitive and budgetary concerns.

The end result has been price gouging and, in some cases, greater inefficiency.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance is privatising Sydney's last remaining bus routes in state-owned hands.

Photo: SMH





The crush: Redfern is Sydney's sixth busiest station.

A Population Summit held by the SMH … one could be forgiven for believing it was to counter the current consequences of the high population growth … nah … it is about telling Sydneysiders the growth is inevitable … to get used to longer and more uncomfortable commutes

HOW can this guvmint make Sydney more liveable?

AS Leith points out …

The first major party that fully taps into this voter discontent will rule for decades.

Related Article … SMH Summit …

Sydneysiders told to sacrifice living standards for migrants

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

September 16, 2019 | 32 comments

In the lead-up to its fake population summit, which has been hijacked by ‘Big Australia’ mafiaThe SMH has released a report telling Sydneysiders to get used to longer and more uncomfortable commutes as another 1.3 million people overload the city by 2030:

Overcrowded trains and busier roads. An extra 1.3 million people in Sydney by 2030 means a longer and more uncomfortable commute, particularly for residents in the city’s fast-growing western suburbs…

Despite the projected growth in rail and road infrastructure, population growth raises the risk of gridlocked roads and overcrowded trains in Sydney.

And congestion is likely to extend beyond peak periods to other parts of the day.

For many people there will be no escaping the crush as Sydney’s road and rail network comes under further strain…

The man responsible for moving us around does not subscribe to the doomsday model. NSW Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance paints a far rosier picture in his vision for 2030…

He spruiks the concept of the “30-minute city” and claims 70 per cent of Sydneysiders will live within half an hour of work, education and recreation by 2036.

But that dream is a long way from becoming a reality… Despite unprecedented investment in recent years, the rail and roads network faces massive challenges. It is partly due to a lack of investment previously, but also because the pace of population growth will keep piling more people into cars, trains, buses and ferries…

Sydney’s train lines are often overcrowded during morning and evening peak, with many services failing to run on time…

Meanwhile on the roads, major arterial routes including the M4, M5, the Harbour Tunnel and the Harbour Bridge will remain choked as traffic grinds to a standstill during peak… Add in some rain and Sydney seems to shut down…

Ultimately, the overriding question is: will crippling congestion render Sydney unliveable by 2030?

*As usual, the 1.3 million extra people by 2030 are presented by The SMH as inevitable, rather than a direct policy choice.

*Transport and planning academics are also quoted in the article claiming that Sydney’s growth problems are manageable and can be alleviated by ‘better planning’, more investment in public transit, congestion taxes, and the like.

All are lying through their teeth.

The fact of the matter is that Infrastructure Australia’s modelling has projected worsening traffic congestion, longer commute times, and reduced access to jobs, schools, hospitals and green space as Sydney swells to a projected 7.4 million people by 2046 under ongoing mass immigration, regardless of whether Sydney builds up or builds out:

The hopes for a “30-minute city” were also crushed by Infrastructure Australia’s modelling, as illustrated clearly in the above table.

The fact of the matter is that net overseas migration (NOM) will drive all of Sydney’s future population growth, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

Therefore, rather than resorting to expensive policy band aids, the population pressures can be prevented by simply abandoning a ‘Big Australia’ and turning off the immigration tap:

*The comments to this SMH article are worth reading for the disconnect between the Sydney elite and the majority that want immigration numbers reduced:

*All these series of articles keep presenting an extra 1.3M people as a fait accompli. Government needs to reduce immigration dramatically, and no extra 1.3M people. See how simple that is!

An option to alleviate the burden” might be to reduce the number of immigrants? Nobody seems to have thought of that.


You don’t have to take in another few million you know.

Le parc vert
Sydney was once a beautiful, vibrant city. It has already lost much of its character, but these plans will reduce it to a soulless megalopolis. The population might increase by another 1.5 million in 10 years, but I have no faith that the government can make the place livable. Doomed to be a second Jakarta?

*Impartial observer
This ridiculous growth is utterly ruinous for the environment, completely unwanted by the existent population and actually compromises the security of our nation by placing extreme demands on finite resources…

The people of Australia have given no mandate for this unsustainable growth…

Who is it that decides for Sydney to have such a large population? Have we got nothing to say? In a democracy people can vote on such an important matter. Over the last decades the once beautiful Sydney has become overcrowded and almost unbearable to life in. You think you have water shortages now! Give people a vote!

What a horrendous city it has become

And why exactly do we need another 1.3million people in Sydney (alone) over the next 11 years? Can someone please explain the objective of our current immigration policy?

*The first major party that fully taps into this voter discontent will rule for decades.

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor

Sydney Metro




E-CONVEYANCING: Sleep-walking into a monopoly: competition fears spark home-buyer warning

‘Sleep-walking into a monopoly’: competition fears spark home-buyer warning

Josh Dye
By Josh Dye

June 30, 2019 

View all comments

The introduction of mandatory electronic conveyancing on Monday has sparked fears that a lack of competition could cost home-buyers more in the long-term.

The transfer of property ownership in Australia was traditionally conducted using paper forms, but from July 1 must be done online in NSW.

However customer Service minister Victor Dominello has warned of the “grave risk” of creating another Telstra-like behemoth, given the online property exchange network is an effective monopoly, controlled by a company called PEXA.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is leading the charge for competition in online conveyancing.
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is leading the charge for competition in online conveyancing.CREDIT:NICK MOIR

PEXA was born in 2010 out of federal and state government desires for a national e-conveyancing platform. Until last year, it was owned by various stakeholders including state governments and the big four banks, before it was fully privatised and sold to a consortium.

While no one disputes the benefits of e-conveyancing, there are major concerns PEXA lacks an effective competitor, which Mr Dominello believes gives PEXA an unfair market advantage.

“There is a grave risk we are sleep-walking into a monopoly which would have a very bad outcome for the people of our country,” Mr Dominello told the Herald. “I just don’t think it’s healthy to have a situation where there is no choice.”

PEXA chief executive Marcus Price said his company has committed to “never increase prices beyond CPI”.

*”This is enshrined in regulation and through the contracts we have with each of our members,” Mr Price said. “Ultimately, as an industry we must advocate for a model that first and foremost serves homebuyers without introducing new cost, risk or complexity into the process.”

Late last year, there was a new entrant to the market – a company called Sympli – but major competition concerns remain.

I can’t think of any good that would come out of creating a corporate behemoth.

NSW Customer Service minister Victor Dominello

The key to improving competition appears to be interoperability. That would mean forcing PEXA’s and Sympli’s systems to integrate with each other, in the same way you can call and speak to someone who uses a different mobile phone network.

“I can’t think of any good that would come out of creating a corporate behemoth, such as [another] Telstra,” Mr Dominello said. “Ultimately it would be a perverse outcome if we have a Telstra and an Optus, but Optus [people] can only speak to Optus people and Telstra can only speak to Telstra people. We do need that interoperability and we do need competition.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has previously weighed in, urging the regulator to adopt interoperability which it described as “essential”. The competition watchdog criticised the fact that PEXA had “already commenced operations prior to regulatory measures being resolved”.


'Unauthorised': Privatised NSW land titles registry hiked fees by 1900 per cent

‘Unauthorised’: Privatised NSW land titles registry hiked fees by 1900 per cent

Without enforced interoperability, new competitors will face “significant barriers”, commissioner Cristina Cifuentes wrote.

“Even if the new [competitor] can offer a better price or a better service, the incumbent [PEXA] will already have the network advantage of a greater number of users and will be able to leverage this advantage, as each party to a transaction must use the same [network].”

As the largest state, NSW’s mandatory adoption of online conveyancing marks a critical juncture for the industry, because in the absence of a solution, PEXA gets first bite at the lucrative NSW property market.

Although NSW has taken the lead in lobbying for interoperability, there is frustration in the industry that it’s taking so long to act. The industry regulator, ARNECC, is conducting a national review, which is due to be released in coming weeks.


MasterChef finalist caught in conveyancing hacker attack

MasterChef finalist caught in conveyancing hacker attack

‘The worst-case scenario’

Paul Bollen, director of East Coast Law, a large provider of conveyancing services in NSW, online conveyancing is a positive step.

However, he is concerned PEXA’s monopoly position will come back to bite home-buyers.

“I think it could be a money pit that they could dip into and increase fees and charges, which are ultimately passed onto the client. That is the worst-case scenario,” he said.

The digital transition doesn’t come without risks, either.

Last year, PEXA suffered multiple serious security breaches when hackers broke into the online portal and stole millions of dollars.

Despite that, Mr Bollen supports the industry moving online, but he wants choice and competition.

“If we’re faced with a monopoly and PEXA is the provider, then we don’t have a choice,” he said.

*He also criticised the NSW government for mandating the system too quickly, saying it “should have been pushed back” until competition concerns were resolved.

ARNECC failed to answer a series of questions from the Herald, with a spokeswoman saying it would take four days to get a response.

Josh Dye

Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.




NRAS provided $1Bn ‘windfall gain’ to PROPERTY DEVELOPERS: Grattan Institute

WHERE this program went wrong …

… was it extending annually indexed incentives to developers and investors

AND since 2011 the NSW LNP Govt has been selling off Our Public Housing Estates to deve-lopers who in turn flog off their ‘new home’ projects to foreign buyers as much as 100%

-more than 190,000 on the Public Housing Waiting List

FURTHER with more than 116,000 people Homeless in Australia … how can the ‘Social Housing’ system cope?

IT would appear that the LNP ‘sell off’ experiment in NSW has also failed the Australian People …

AND to address the mess … from the sell-off Overseas … rezoning Our R2 for higher density …

  • News
  • National
  • NRAS provided $1b ‘windfall gain’ to property developers: Grattan Institute

A program to help low-income renters was a boon to property developers, a Grattan Institute report has found.

NRAS provided $1b ‘windfall gain’ to property developers: Grattan Institute


A national scheme designed to help low-income renters instead provided a “windfall gain” to property developers of more than $1 billion, new research suggests.

Instead of extending the troubled program, governments should increase rent assistance to tenants on low incomes and build more social housing for those at risk of homelessness, Grattan Institute fellow Brendan Coates said.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme was a Kevin Rudd-era policy that gave annually indexed incentives to developers and investors who charged rents at least 20 per cent below market rate.

It was scrapped in 2014 by Tony Abbott’s Coalition government and the incentives on offer are now drying up as homes hit their 10-year limit, with community housing providers previously warning some renters face homelessness as a result.

Labor proposed a new policy of affordability housing subsidies before its election loss this year.

Developers with grandfathered dwellings still on the program receive about $11,000 of taxpayer money each year, but only provide a typical discount worth about $4000, new Grattan research – to be presented at the UNSW Social Policy Conference in Sydney on Monday – found.

That leaves developers with a gain of about $7000 a year per home, or total gains of at least $1 billion, the report found.

“The windfall gain to property developers was enormous,” Mr Coates told Domain.

“We don’t normally provide $1 billion of extra funding to not-for-profits without any strings attached.”

Subsidies on offer remained the same for a one-bedroom apartment, for example, and a more expensive three-bedroom house, he said.

Docklands Melbourne
Developers received the same subsidy for a small apartment and a large house under the NRAS, Brendan Coates said. Photo: Leigh Henningham

Individuals can qualify to live in an NRAS home with an income of up to $50,000, and couples up to nearly $70,000, meaning the scheme did not help those who need it most, the report suggests.

It also found little evidence that the program increased the supply of new housing, compared to the volume that would have been built anyway.

Instead, the think tank called for a 40 per cent increase to Commonwealth rent assistance payments, indexed to changes in rents typically paid by tenants receiving income support.

This was unlikely to push up rents, Mr Coates said, because tenants on low incomes were already prioritising rent payments and skimping on food or other essentials that they could better afford with the extra payment.

“Most of it won’t be spent on rent,” he said.“Because it’s given to the tenant, the only way they can actually spend more on rent is if they move house.”

He also called for governments to build more social housing, targeted at those facing homelessness.

A similar program during the global financial crisis was “wildly successful”, he said, and suggested a new version could help boost the residential construction industry amid a slowing economy.

“Social housing actually makes very effective stimulus,” he said.

“It’s much easier to build a five-storey apartment building than to try to build a tunnel under the Yarra.”

Other reforms could income further changes to tenancy rules to make renting more secure, and changes to state planning rules to allow more homes to be built in inner- and middle-ring suburbs of major cities, making housing cheaper, the think tank said.




DOM’s new reform agenda

Dominello’s new reform agenda


Dominello’s new reform agenda

Victor Dominello: New processes for big tech and digital project approvals

Australia’s first minister for customer service – the NSW government’s Victor Dominello – has pulled back the curtain on the internal reforms driving the state’s digital obsession, revealing new structures for approving tech projects, infrastructure to enable real-time feedback, and a renewed focus on building internal capability.

The reforms include new structures – yet to be tested – for diversifying the state’s technology supplier base and to make it easier for small and medium sized companies to sell to government.

NSW embarked on a grand experiment six years ago when it launched its new digital strategy. With its re-election in March, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has doubled-down on its digital drive with an internal reform agenda that has put service delivery – and the technology behind it – at the centre of public administration.

In a headland speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the state was focused on digitisation because issues of service delivery were central to trust relationship between government and citizens.

“When government services fall behind citizen expectations from the other services in their everyday lives, their trust in government falls and disillusionment in politics rises,” Mr Dominello said.

“Politicians are generally high on the rhetoric, big on the money but poor on the delivery,” he said.

The machinery of government changes that followed the election have been dramatic, with a new Department of Customer Service sitting as one of three whole-of-government agencies alongside Premier and Cabinet and Treasury.

Mr Dominello outlined a streamlining of the Committee processes that ultimates run government, and which will have a profound impact on the way that government tech projects will be funded.

The restructure in NSW has radically consolidated the number of ministerial committees that run the state to just threethe Cabinet, the Treasury committee (or the expenditure review committee) and a newly-formed, customer-focused committee called the Delivery and Performance Committee (DaPCo.)

DaPCo is chaired jointly by Mr Dominello and the Premier, and includes as a members the Treasurer, the Deputy Premier and the deputy leader of the Nationals.

The committee is a radical departure from the way in which large IT projects have been traditional funded in government.

Mr Dominello says it is an opportunity for the most senior ranks of political leadership to ask “the hard questions” on delivery, before heading off to the ERC to get budget approval.

“If you want money, then show me that you’ve mapped out the data architecture, show me that you understand your customers’ needs, and show me that you’re following the Digital Design Standard. I want to see working prototypes of services, not big business cases<” Mr Dominello said.

“In the past, most IT projects got started by taking a big business case to the Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet, asking for hundreds of millions of dollars upfront and reams and reams of paperwork to back it up,” he said.

“Now for IT projects – and for that matter any other project that has a delivery aspect, which cover most proposals before government – they first have to come to DaPCo.”

The new committee has three primary questions: What is the data architecture, what is the digital design, and what is the customer lens. If these are adequately covered off and approved, only then can the project leaders go off the Treasury committee and ask for money based on a ROI or cost benefit ratio.

“This reform – is cultural and it is whole of government – it is the hard stuff, the messy and complex innards of government that nobody likes to talk about,” Mr. It’s not shiny but it’s one of the biggest enablers for digital transformation and service delivery – which is why we’re committed to getting it right.”

He said NSW had also embarked on a new capability-building effort, both in investing in people inside government, as well as making it easier to small businesses to work with government.

“We are not just talking about capability inside the public service. We are diversifying our technology supplier base, making it easier for small and medium businesses across NSW to bring their skills to government.

Through the buy.nsw platform, we’re simplifying the processes that have long–inhibited small businesses from selling to government – and creating an open procurement marketplace that demonstrates that government is open for business. “

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, of course. But it is fair to say for all of the work that the state has done in driving digital-based service delivery improvements, engaging with the local industry has not been a priority.

Mr Dominello has also outlined the state’s plans for improved Privacy, Security, Transparency and Ethics.


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FIGHT begins to halt plans to redevelop site at DALWOOD CHILDREN’s HOME in Seaforth

A Meeting organised by the Dalwood Auxiliary tonight, Tuesday 3 September at Seaforth Scout Hall in Sangrado Park, Seaforth, from 5.30pm!


a plan to sell off “surplus” section of the Dalwood Children’s Home to developers

A consequence of high immigration …

-to rob the community of land set aside for public health, ending up in the hands of developers

WITH similarities to *Crowle Home!

Related Article:  April 2015:  The former Crowle Home Site now a Deicorp development at Meadowbank


PERHAPS a prime example of an abuse of a family’s generosity through the somewhat notorious Part 3A, and now morphed into State Significant Development:

Fight begins to halt plans to redevelop site at Dalwood Children’s Home in Seaforth

A battle has begun to stop a push to sell off part of a historic site — used to treat sick children — to developers on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Jim O’Rourke, Manly Daily

September 2, 2019

NSW Health is making building changes to the Dalwood Home at Seaforth to turn it into a community health hub.
NSW Health is making building changes to the Dalwood Home at Seaforth to turn it into a community health hub.

*Community opposition is growing against a plan to sell off part of the historic Dalwood Children’s Home site to developers.

Dalwood supporters and its neighbours fear the proposed sale of a “surplus” section of the Seaforth site could result in multi-unit residences being built.

The NSW Ministry of Health said it wants to sell off a portion of the historic Dalwood Children’s Home land to raise money to pay for more services on the site. Picture: News Corp
The NSW Ministry of Health said it wants to sell off a portion of the historic Dalwood Children’s Home land to raise money to pay for more services on the site. Picture: News Corp

A meeting, organised by the volunteer Dalwood Auxiliary, has been scheduled for Tuesday night at the Seaforth Scout Hall to alert the community to the NSW Government’s proposed sell off.

*Auxiliary president John Darragh has described the Ministry of Health’s rezoning bid as the “thin end of the wedge” that could lead to more land, which was set aside for public health, ending up in the hands of developers.

“Our opposition is gaining momentum. People are angry and the phones are running hot,” Mr Darragh said.”

In its rezoning proposal, now before Northern Beaches Council, the Health Ministry wants to

*hive off a parcel of what it described as surplus land to allow four residential blocks as well as an area for “Environmental Living”, which allows for “low-impact residential development”.

Map showing rezoning proposal for part of the Dalwood Children’s Home site at Seaforth.
Map showing rezoning proposal for part of the Dalwood Children’s Home site at Seaforth.

The Ministry, in a report to council, said selling the land for housing would “generate funds for new and/or upgraded local health services and facilities on the site”.

Dalwood was a home for mothers and babies set up by the Food for Babies Fund. In 1931 it became a public hospital, and began to provide support to children who could not be cared for in their own homes.

In 1989 Dalwood stopped operating as a children’s home but it still has non-residential programs on-site including a family care centre and the Dalwood Spilstead Service, which supports children at risk and vulnerable families.

*Mr Darragh said none of the Dalwood land should be sold off because it was either donated to the state — by philanthropist Albert Dalwood in 1928 — or purchased by the Dalwood Auxiliary in 1938, for the express purpose of improving the welfare of children.

*“What they think is unused land is actually land owned by the people of NSW that can be used in the future to provide more services that assist vulnerable children.

President of the Dalwood Auxiliary, John Darragh, (second from right) at a jumble sale to help raise money for Dalwood, is opposed to the proposed land sell-off. Picture: News Corp
President of the Dalwood Auxiliary, John Darragh, (second from right) at a jumble sale to help raise money for Dalwood, is opposed to the proposed land sell-off. Picture: News Corp

“Once that land is gone, it’s gone forever.”

The council has received 26 public submissions about the proposal.

CAAN: The Sydney Community has been writing submissions since 2012 … to be ignored by this Government …

*A spokesman for NSW Health said 0.54 hectares of vacant land has been identified as surplus to its requirements.

*CAAN: The NSW LNP Government has criticised the former Labor Government for selling off school sites … yet due to high immigration, and visa manipulation esp since 2013 our primary school children are schooled in demountable classrooms strewn across playgrounds …

“It is intended that the land will be disposed of by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment,” he said.

“Services currently undertaken in the facility will not be affected.”

The resident’s meeting is being held in the Seaforth Scout Hall in Sangrado Park, Seaforth, from 5.30pm on Tuesday.


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How ‘archaic’ technology threw SYDNEY RAIL into meltdown

WHY is this happening … is Sydney Trains’ chief executive, Howard Collins limited in what he can say?

Are those servants elected to manage NSW in our interests in fact …

acting more like Corporate Raiders of the bickie tin of NSW Public Assets?

-are they deliberately running our publicly owned infrastructure down?  Cough … cough …

By cutting maintenance money … so so severely that the mechanical switches to isolate power date back to the 1920s …

-forcing maintenance staff to clamour through tunnels to flick switches

-instead of remotely from an operations centre like they do on London’s underground network

ALL that is needed is:

-a remote isolation switch from the rail operation centre with a disruption of a mere 15 minutes

BUT the liberal nsw grubmnt is funnelling Tens of Billions into new privatised Metro lines rather than maintain the existing publicly owned railway

DID you vote for this? To gift Hong Kong Consortium MTR even more development opportunities en route? Is the plan to replace the whole rail network? Cough … cough …

How ‘archaic’ technology threw Sydney rail into meltdown

Matt O'Sullivan
By Matt O’Sullivan

August 23, 2019

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It was 5.22am when the driver of a train carrying hundreds of people through the heart of Sydney saw a roof hatch on its front carriage sitting perilously close to the 1500-volt overhead power line.

At about 8.45am on Friday, the northbound train finally rolled away from a platform at Town Hall station, after the fibre-glass hatch was safely removed.

In the intervening three hours, the stoppage of one train had thrown Sydney’s rail network into chaos.

The incident at Town Hall caused major delays for hours across the rail network.
The incident at Town Hall caused major delays for hours across the rail network.CREDIT:PETER RAE

Trains carrying up to 250,000 commuters across the city were seriously delayed or re-routed during the morning peak, and roads gridlocked as people sought other ways to get around. At Wynyard station, commuters were advised to walk across the Harbour Bridge, so severe were the delays.

The incident on Friday morning has again highlighted the vulnerability of Sydney’s aged rail network – and the length of time it takes for it to recover from delays.

More than 12 hours after the train was halted, commuters were still experiencing delays to services across multiple lines during the evening peak.

After the operator stopped the train at Town Hall due to the safety risks posed if it continued, engineers were forced to scramble through tunnels to turn off “Frankenstein”-like switches so that they could cut power to the overhead line and remove the hatch, which was millimetres from the overhead wires.

*Sydney Trains’ apologetic chief executive, Howard Collins, said the mechanical switches to isolate power dated to the 1920s, and were likely put in when the rail network was first electrified.

A loose hatch on a Sydney train led to hours of delays across the network.
A loose hatch on a Sydney train led to hours of delays across the network. CREDIT:SYDNEY TRAINS

“They are almost Frankenstein in their look,” he said on Friday.

*And while they “do a great job”, Mr Collins conceded that it was an “archaic” situation to be in when staff had to clamour through tunnels to flick switches instead of being able to do so remotely from an operations centre like they do on London’s underground network.

*“We are looking forward to getting further investment to get us up to the 20th century,” he said.

*”As far as I’m concerned, the future for us … is a remote isolation [switch] all done from the [rail operation centre and] … services are disrupted for 15 minutes rather than three hours.”

The rail operator blamed the loose hatch on the Tangara passenger train on an “external factor”, possibly a tree branch. “There are definite scratch and scour marks on the top of this fibre glass lid, so something has hit it at the front of the train,” Mr Collins said.

Commuters at Wynyard station were advised to walk across the Harbour Bridge.
Commuters at Wynyard station were advised to walk across the Harbour Bridge.CREDIT:AAP

The hatches are secured by a large clip and a safety device.

Mr Collins said it was the right decision to halt the train at Town Hall because overhead wires on the North Shore line across the Harbour Bridge to North Sydney could have been torn down if it had continued.

“It could have meant days of damage … [and] the hatch could have come off and hit someone,” he said.

The incident shows the extent to which central Sydney is the “the squeeze point” on the rail network, and the ripple effect across multiple lines caused by a failure on it.

[The network] is historically very connected, and when one bit falls down, after a while the others slow down and stop as well,” Mr Collins said.

The government is spending billions on upgrades to signalling systems on part of the network, as well as on new Waratah trains less susceptible to failure.

But the tens of billions it is funnelling into new metro rail lines has left it open to criticism that more should have been diverted to the existing railway, which will continue to carry the bulk of commuters for years to come.

Asked whether the government should have spent more on Sydney Trains, Mr Collins said “we need both” and the second stage of the city’s new metro line from Chatswood to the central city and beyond would provide an alternative during major incidents.

“There is no doubt that, if you spend on one and not the other, we still fail. With this incident, metro would have been able to take the haul all the way from North Sydney to Central and there would have been a realistic and reasonable alternative,” he said.

Matt O’Sullivan

Matt O’Sullivan is the Transport Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.





Warragamba Dam plan stirs World Heritage Committee worry over ‘values’

Peter Hannam
By Peter Hannam

July 3, 2019

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The NSW government’s plan to raise the height of the Warragamba Dam has triggered concern from the World Heritage Committee that the Blue Mountain’s “outstanding universal values” will be affected.

The committee issued its response to the proposal at a UNESCO meeting in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on Wednesday. It noted the raised dam would likely increase the extent and frequency of inundation of the World Heritage area.

The NSW government's plan to raise the height of Warragamba Dam by 14 metres has generated concern at a World Heritage Committee meeting in Azerbaijan.
The NSW government’s plan to raise the height of Warragamba Dam by 14 metres has generated concern at a World Heritage Committee meeting in Azerbaijan. CREDIT:AAP

The committee requested the government submit the proposal’s environmental impact assessment to the World Heritage Centre “for review” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature “prior to taking any final decision regarding the project”.

Officially, Infrastructure NSW has been working on a project that would raise the dam wall of Sydney’s main reservoir by 14 metres to 144.5 metres, flooding as much as 5000 hectares of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.


The Warragamba Dam is proposed to be lifted by 14 metres but construction is understood to provide for a future raising to 17 metres.

Government’s secret plan to raise Warragamba Dam wall by 17m

However, as reported in the Herald in March, one document indicated construction would involve building 17-metre-high abutments that would permit a further raising with minimal additional work.

The World Heritage Committee also noted that it considered any construction of dams with large reservoirs within the boundaries of World Heritage properties “incompatible with their World Heritage status”.

It urged all governments to “ensure that the impacts from dams that could affect properties located upstream or downstream within the same river basin are rigorously assessed in order to avoid impacts on [their] outstanding universal values”.

Bob Debus, a former NSW Environment Minister who presided over the successful nomination of the Blue Mountains region for World Heritage state, told the Baku gathering that as much as 65 kilometres of wilderness rivers would be flooded if the dam wall were to be raised.

“The area proposed for inundation includes at least 300 known Gundungurra Aboriginal cultural sites, which would be damaged,” he said. “Its cultural and conservation value is exceptional even within the Blue Mountains area.”

“The government of New South Wales has in its own publications treated [outstanding universal values] as little more than an irritating afterthought.”

“[Australia’s] failure to protect World Heritage in the Blue Mountains would not be an isolated misfortune,” Mr Debus said. “It would amount to a fundamental attack on the [World Heritage] Convention itself.”

The Berejiklian government has argued that the wall must be raised to reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean river plain.

Much of the plain was frequently inundated during the first 150 years of European settlement although a relative dearth of floods in the past half century have prompted planning authorities to allow development of houses and other infrastructure in the flood zone.

Mr Debus said the government’s support for the project – to cost as much as $1 billion – “so far presume that the population living on the floodplain will be greatly increased”.

“It has so far demonstrated very little interest in a rigorous assessment of alternative strategies for flood mitigation, urban planning and water supply, even though strategies clearly exist.”

Stuart Ayres, the Western Sydney Minister, said the project’s environmental impact statement would be provided to the World Heritage Committee “when it is placed on public exhibition in early 2020”.

“The Hawkesbury-Nepean is a high-risk floodplain,” Mr Ayres said. “Raising the dam wall is key part of the strategy to reduce the existing risk to life and property on the floodplain.”

“The final decision to raise the wall has not yet been taken and will only take place after financial, environment and cultural assessments have concluded,” he said.

“While there will be environmental impacts from temporarily holding flood water from behind a raised dam wall, they must be measured against the social and financial impact a catastrophic flood would have on Western Sydney communities.”

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam writes on environment issues for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.





Demolishing and rebuilding Allianz Stadium is predicted to bring in more events and people to the venue. Picture: Mark Evans

NSW footy stadium farce leaves giant crater

By Unconventional Economist in Australian budget

August 5, 2019 | 13 comments

We argued previously that the NSW State Government had hit ‘peak stupid’ in deciding to spend $2.5 billion to demolish and rebuild the Olympic Stadium and the Sydney Football Stadium, both of which are underutilised.

These stadiums were assessed to deliver zero net economic benefits for the state, according to analysis by hired gun KPMG. Moreover, these stadiums are to be paid for by selling-off the lease to the state’s monopoly land titles registry – a move that will very likely see end-users being gouged by the new monopoly owners, with the NSW State Government also losing a reliable income stream.

In March, Premier Gladys Berejiklian compromised somewhat on the projects, announcing that “Allianz Stadium will be knocked down and rebuilt but ANZ Stadium will undergo a “major renovation” – as opposed to the full $1.25 billion for a knockdown and rebuild” – a move that would save some $500 million and reduce the total cost of the projects down to $2 billion.

Last week it was reported that the Sydney Football Stadium rebuild is in chaos with construction contractor Lendlease leaving project, along with a giant crater post demolition. And on Friday, another major construction company ruled itself out from the rebuild:

The remains of the stadium at Moore Park.

A W Edwards’ business development manager John Devlin said the company – which built the Victor Trumper and Don Bradman stands at the Sydney Cricket Ground – had decided against making an offer…

“We decided to advise Infrastructure NSW that we will not be submitting a bid for the new stadium. It would be a large project and we decided not to pursue it”…

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday morning said the government had “until November” to secure another company to build the stadium.

With the pool of potential construction companies shrinking, the NSW Government will likely have to pay over the odds to get the project completed.

With widespread infrastructure bottlenecks across Sydney, and concerns over a ‘Big Australia’ and over-development at fever pitch, blowing $2 billion on this dud project makes as much sense as punching yourself in the face.

Image result for gladys berejiklian football stadium debacle

Photo: AFR Gladys Berejiklian’s Stadium Dilemna





HOW can this be denied? But is there any mention of those who brought this about? As the coffers of the Big End of Town overflow, as they rise up the AFR Rich List

… this is the price that we pay for their Ponzi

… it can take us 30, 50 minutes to drive a few suburbs away!

Then where to park?

Public transport is inadequate … much of it now being privatised like that in the U.K. … to become prohibitively expensive too as with the motorways ? …

Where will the $$ come from to build more ‘public transport’ now that the Ponzi is cracking up or falling down? And the NSW Grubmnt is being sued …

Through Visa Manipulation … that which Scomo does not mention … an extra 2.2 MILLION Visa Holders are in the Nation … many seeking ‘permanent residency’ through education or buying our real estate … and compounding the need for more ‘public transport’

… like a dog chasing its own tail!

Commuting times soar, with house prices and population boom blamed for gridlock

ABC News Breakfast By Patrick Wood

30 JULY 2019

Construction worker Paul on his morning commute to work.

PHOTO: Paul’s train trip to work takes 50 minutes each way. (ABC News: Patrick Wood)

RELATED STORY: The design trick that could cut 12 minutes off your train commute

RELATED STORY: How the commute changes us — and sometimes it’s for the better

RELATED STORY: Their commutes may be long, slow and stressful, but some Australians still love driving to work

Commuting times have risen across Australia and are leading people to consider quitting their jobs, according to new data.

Key points

  • Average commuting times are up in almost every capital city and state
  • Workers in some jobs have almost double the proportion of lengthy commutes
  • An expert has called for greater funding for public transport

Workers now spend on average 4.5 hours a week getting to and from work a rise of 23 per cent since 2002 — but this can jump even higher depending on where someone lives and even what job they have.

The data has been compiled in the latest annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, which has been running for almost two decades.

Sydneysiders have always fared the worst, closely followed by Melbourne, but both are now being chased down by Brisbane, which has blown out by almost 50 per cent in recent years.

Commuters in the ACT have experienced the biggest surge in commute times, while those in Tasmania are the only ones to have actually seen a decrease.

Mean daily commuting times – there and back (minutes)200220052008201120142017Change (%)
Sydney 60.665.469.56571.271.117.4
Rest of NSW 41.940.948.946.147.751.422.6
Melbourne 58.660.366.564.16865.411.5
Rest of Victoria 36.338.451.148.246.345.826.1
Brisbane 4655.255.962.961.766.744.8
Rest of Queensland 37.842.7444447.84929.7
Adelaide 44.853.751.652.154.656.325.6
Rest of South Australia 29.234.830.434.336.241.743.1
Perth 49.949.957.15658.859.318.7
Rest of Western Australia
Tasmania 42.647.341.442.543.641.8-1.9
Northern Territory 29.339.931.23435.134.718.5
Australian Capital Territory 31.335.741.150.855.351.564.5

Everything from population booms, to rising house prices and a lack of investment in public transport is being blamed for the trend.

Todd Denham from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research said infrastructure was not keeping up with population growth, particularly in the outskirts of major cities.

And he said this had been associated with a range of personal issues.

A side car mirror reflects Sydney traffic in peak hour. There are trucks, vans, and cars lined up.

PHOTO: Bumper-to-bumper traffic is the norm for many people. (ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)

“People have poorer health because they spend more time commuting,” he said.

“You are also away from your family for longer periods of time.

“And research connects time spent commuting to higher rates of divorce [and] lower rates of participation in community volunteering.”

*Mr Denham advocated greater funding for public transport, adding the major projects he saw going ahead were still focused on cars.

“If there was a shift in the way that our politicians were thinking about these issues with congestion, there would be even more investment in rail and public transport rather than roads,” he said.

Exploring Australia’s worst car commutes

Exploring Australia's worst car commutes

We’ve studied thousands of Australians’ car commutes — they are long, slow and stressful, but in some cases, maybe better than you’d think.

Brisbane local Graham Bingham knows the pain of the peak-hour rush and has seen the effect of urban sprawl.

“The traffic has increased in my area of Brisbane because there have been hundreds of new homes built in this area but the roads cannot cope,” he said.

“Over the last 12 months a kilometre-long unofficial third lane has been forming every morning by drivers wanting to get onto the motorway at Belmont in Brisbane.”

While some workers might look to public transport as the solution, construction worker Paul warned it was not a stress-free switch.

Commuters aboard a packed train bound for Brisbane's CBD from Deagon station

PHOTO: Does your morning train trip look like this? (ABC News: Patrick Williams)

His train journey from Melbourne’s north into the city takes 50 minutes each way, and he said the afternoon crush could be a nightmare.

“It’s how packed the trains get that’s the worst,” he said.

“Going home, mate if you don’t get in and push some old lady over you don’t get a seat.

“Driving in it would take maybe half an hour, but that’s leaving at 5:00am. Going home it’d take an hour-and-a-half.”

Long commutes create unhappy workers

The latest HILDA report is based on 2017 data and includes all workers aged 15 years and older, including those who work from home and have a commuter time of zero.

*It found a correlation between longer commute times and a desire to switch jobs, with everything from satisfaction around pay, flexibility and working hours all lower for those who travelled for longer.

Of those with a long commute, 19 per cent had looked for a job in the past month — compared with 15 per cent doing short trips, and 17 per cent with a medium one.

How people rated their work on a scale of 0-10ShortMediumLong
Working hours
Flexibility to balance work and non-work commitments
Total pay
Job overall

But it is not just clogged roads and more people that are leading to a rise in travel times.

House prices have surged across the country in the past decade, pushing many workers into the suburbs and beyond as they searched for affordable homes.

In some cases, the simple distance needed to get from home to work has increased, and with it the time spent commuting.

How commuting changes us

How commuting changes us

The daily trip to work changes us in ways you wouldn’t expect — and sometimes for the better.

Statistically speaking, a male tradie with two dependent kids is the most likely to have a lengthy commute.

So meet Alex Gray.

The electrician has two young boys and is currently building a family home in the town of Warragul, 100km south-east of Melbourne.

His job often takes him to Melbourne and he estimates he drives about 1,000km every week for work.

“To me it’s worthwhile. Having an affordable lifestyle and where we live is more of a priority than living closer to where I need to be,” he said.

“The thing for me that we weighed up was living on the fringe of suburbia, I prefer to travel half an hour further on to Warragul and have the lifestyle that we can have in Warragul and the affordability of housing and stuff like that.”

Alex Gray in Warragul with his ute.

PHOTO: Alex Gray has prioritised his family over his own travel time. (ABC News: Patrick Wood)

The HILDA survey found technicians and trades workers were the most likely to experience long commutes, well ahead of sales workers at the other end of the scale.

Prevalence of different commute lengths, by occupation, 2017 (%)ShortMediumLong
Managers 49.930.419.7
Professionals 46.533.320.2
Technicians and Trades Workers 45.731.123.2
Community and Personal Service Workers 5926.114.9
Clerical and Administrative Workers 50.83019.2
Sales Workers 67.821.910.3
Machinery Operators and Drivers 59.426.114.5
Labourers 61.322.516.2
Total 52.72918.3

Short = less than one hour a day. Medium = 1-2 hours a day. Long = 2+ hours a day.

Mr Gray said while better public transport might help office workers, it was not the answer for tradies. And the thinking that more people taking trains would ease congestion on the roads did not always stack up.

“In my case it wouldn’t help at all,” he said.

“There’s predominantly two waves of traffic each day, and there will be a time from 5:00am to maybe 7:00am where it will be all trades vehicles. Every one will be a ute.

“And then from 7:00am to 9:00am that will be the office workers.

“So for those trades vehicles I don’t see any other way … you need your vehicles, you need your equipment where you’re going to be.”

Reading this on a train? Check these out:

On the infrastructure side of things, Mr Denham said the answer was not necessarily to make commutes into the city easier, because this could drain the economy of regional towns.

Instead, he argued, we should make the regions more attractive and have better jobs.

“When you look at the amount of money that’s being proposed on spending on fast rail projects there seems to me to be an important question that’s not asked, which is how else could we spend that money to develop stronger, more vibrant regional economies that attract people to live there?”