TAXPAYERS HOODWINKED BY HIGH SPEED RAIL

Taxpayers hoodwinked by High Speed Rail

By Unconventional Economist in Australian budget

August 6, 2019 | 6 comments

The Guardian has run a detailed report explaining how Australian taxpayers have given “$8m of $20m earmarked to progress high-speed rail to a consortium led by a man who has no expertise in major infrastructure projects, who had been a bankrupt and who was once a National party candidate”:

The Consolidated Land and Rail Australia consortium, better known by its acronym Clara, is headed by Nick Cleary, a would-be property developer from the southern highlands of New South Wales.

Cleary is a man with big dreams. Clara has sold bureaucrats and ministers on a vision so large it’s almost eye-watering: a high-speed rail network between Melbourne and Sydney that would open the way for not one but eight new cities, each between 200,0000 and 600,000 people, to be constructed along its route.

They would rise from the paddocks over the next 50 years, taking the pressure off Sydney and Melbourne as workers moved to the regions, but still with access to highly paid jobs just an hour away by rail.

Some of the new centres would be planned for the outskirts of existing regional towns, helping to revive their economies.

“The policy on population has failed because we have failed to overcome the tyranny of distance,” Cleary says. “Between now and 2061 we are going to grow the population by 15 million. Our plan is to build cities at scale connected by high-speed rail.”

Proponents say the “value uplift” of turning rural land into city and suburban blocks – generating billions for Clara – would more than cover the cost of the rail line, well north of $100bn, plus the estimated $5.5bn of infrastructure such as roads, water, waste services, schools and hospitals needed in each new city…

An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that Clara has no office – its principal place of business, according to Asic records, is the office of its law firm, DLA Piper in Melbourne. It has just $422,000 in paid-up capital and so far has no major shareholders or directors with expertise in infrastructure projects, property development, construction or financing.

Asic searches show a web of companies behind Clara, but the ultimate controlling shareholders are Cleary, his wife, Erin Cleary, and his assistant, Alexandra Johnson, who acts as Clara’s contact point.

Cleary says there is a separate consortium agreement and “there are a number of firms that are funding us while we pass those milestones” of developing the business plan…

The Guardian has also learned that many of the options Clara signed with landowners along the proposed route for the high-speed train have lapsed, leaving a bitter taste for farmers who were swept away by Cleary’s promises of cities rising from the paddocks…

The farmers who signed up with Cleary in 2017 thought they were on the cusp of a gold rush that would change their lives. But two years on Cleary has not been seen for months, and the options agreements have lapsed…

Cleary’s background seems to have passed the Department of Infrastructure by when it funded him.

Around the southern highlands, memories of Cleary’s plan for developing dairy farms, his own included, are still raw. Several families lost money.

Asic records show that the agricultural finance company CNH Capital filed to place him in bankruptcy in May 2010. Cleary sought to discharge the bankruptcy a year later but failed to provide written information about his property and income. He was discharged from bankruptcy in June 2013.

In an excruciating session of Senate estimates last year the deputy secretary of the then Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Luke Yeaman, and the head of rail policy, Andrew Hyles, were forced to admit they were not aware of Cleary’s bankruptcy or that Clara had just $422,700 in capitalisation…

MB has explained many times why the East Coast High Speed Rail (HSR) project does not stack up, namely:

  • The exorbitant cost associated with building and operating the rail line;
  • Lack of population density to support the project; and
  • Lack of competitiveness against air travel unless there are massive ongoing operational subsidies from taxpayers.

The proposal put forward by CLARA states that the HSR line could be funded via value capture. However, in order to make value capture work, the train would have to make too many stops – making it a high-speed train that moves at a snail’s pace.

Sure, the government could get around this problem by running express trains from town X,Y,Z into the capitals, but this would result in far less passenger utilisation per train, deeper investment in rolling stock, and much bigger operational subsidies.

This is a key point: to encourage people to move to regional centres and then commute into the CBD for work would require fares to be kept affordable, which in turn would require heavy subsidies from the government. After all, there’s little point moving from, say, Melbourne to Shepparton, and saving $300,000 on a house, if it costs you $200-plus a week to travel into the Melbourne’s CBD via HSR.

The proposal is for eight new cities with populations of between 200,000 and 600,000 people to be established on this rail line between Melbourne to Sydney. So, that’s between 1.6 million and 4.8 million people living in new cities west of the great dividing range. Where is the water going to come from? Don’t they realise just how dry this country is west of the Great Dividing Range? NSW is already experiencing a severe drought, and adding millions more water consumers is obviously unrealistic.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the biggest barrier to HSR is getting from the outskirts of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane into the CBD.

These trains are not compatible with suburban commuter trains unless they slow to the same slow speeds due to alignment and congestion, in which case they are no longer HSR. Further, the current commuter train systems in Sydney and Melbourne are already at capacity and cannot cope with existing demands, let alone imposing a HSR network.

This means HSR would need to be separated from the existing commuter network via new train lines and stations. And since our major cities are already build-out, this would necessarily require acquiring some of the most expensive capital city real estate in the world or tunnelling under it, either of which would cost a small fortune.

The above Guardian expose is wonderful material for Utopia, which has already ridiculed HSR:

Lots of wasteful activity at great expense to the taxpayers via a LNP crony…

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/08/taxpayers-hoodwinked-high-speed-rail/

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? AUSTRALIA’s HIGH-SPEED RAIL DREAM LEAVES A BITTER TASTE

The disused train line at Tallygaroopna, Victoria, a tiny town outside Shepparton where Nick Cleary planned to buy land for the first stage of the high-speed line. Photograph: Chris Hopkins/The Guardian

Nick Cleary’s CLARA appears to be all about ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ and even more property development with an additional 8 cities proposed between Sydney and Melbourne … does this sound familiar with that of the Sydney Metro and the loss of Our Public Heavy Rail to MTR, a Hong Kong Consortium for a privatised Metro … and high-rise station precincts out to Rouse Hill … and beyond?

VIEW:  ‘Green Fields and Blue Sky … is Nick Cleary’s ambitious CLARA Project the answer to Australia’s fast-rail Question?’

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2018/12/04/5135/

Before the push for Clara there was the Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) High Speed Rail … it would appear it was pushed aside for Value Capture … to tie in with the Liberal Population and High Density Ponzi

Value Capture … it’s pernicious … it’s saying to everyone ‘I have got this idea and I am going to make you pay for my idea’!

WHY is there no mention of Bennelong MP John Alexander?  He was very involved as revealed in the following news reports!  Alexander’s solution, the magic bullet of creating a ‘Megacity’ of 15 MILLION People …

VIEW these articles:

I am not going to wait:  Berejiklian denies high-speed rail is an election stunt

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2018/12/04/5119/

Faster Rail on the Agenda for State and Federal Election … but what lays behind this?

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2018/12/03/5062/

Bennelong MP John Alexander Magic Bullet … 15 Million Mega City from Newcastle to Nowra

https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.com/2018/12/03/5022/

Too good to be true? Australia’s high-speed rail dream leaves a bitter taste

A would-be developer’s vision involves building eight cities between Melbourne and Sydney. But a Guardian investigation has uncovered serious doubts

by Anne Davies

Mon 5 Aug 2019 

Comments 403

The federal government gave $8m of $20m earmarked to progress high-speed rail to a consortium led by a man who has no expertise in major infrastructure projects, who had been a bankrupt and who was once a National party candidate.

Nick Cleary
 Nick Cleary

The Consolidated Land and Rail Australia consortium, better known by its acronym Clara, is headed by Nick Cleary, a would-be property developer from the southern highlands of New South Wales.

Cleary is a man with big dreams. Clara has sold bureaucrats and ministers on a vision so large it’s almost eye-watering: a high-speed rail network between Melbourne and Sydney that would open the way for not one but eight new cities, each between 200,0000 and 600,000 people, to be constructed along its route.

They would rise from the paddocks over the next 50 years, taking the pressure off Sydney and Melbourne as workers moved to the regions, but still with access to highly paid jobs just an hour away by rail.

Some of the new centres would be planned for the outskirts of existing regional towns, helping to revive their economies.

“The policy on population has failed because we have failed to overcome the tyranny of distance,” Cleary says. “Between now and 2061 we are going to grow the population by 15 million. Our plan is to build cities at scale connected by high-speed rail.

The main street of Tallygaroopna, Victoria
 The main street of Tallygaroopna, Victoria. Photograph: Chris Hopkins/The Guardian

Proponents say the “value uplift” of turning rural land into city and suburban blocks – generating billions for Clara – would more than cover the cost of the rail line, well north of $100bn, plus the estimated $5.5bn of infrastructure such as roads, water, waste services, schools and hospitals needed in each new city.

It’s a vision to transform the settlement patterns of Australia entrenched for more than 200 years. And all to be achieved by the private sector, with only minimal government involvement.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” Cleary says.

But can Clara deliver on the vision?

Too good to be true?

The $8m given to Clara is for a business case for the first stage, a line between Melbourne and Shepparton, and two new cities at Nagambie and Shepparton.

Clara’s plan, which at this stage does not specify a technology, says it can cut the travel time between Melbourne and Shepparton from three hours to just 32 minutes.

Too good to be true?

An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that Clara has no office – its principal place of business, according to Asic records, is the office of its law firm, DLA Piper in Melbourne. It has just $422,000 in paid-up capital and so far has no major shareholders or directors with expertise in infrastructure projects, property development, construction or financing.

Asic searches show a web of companies behind Clara, but the ultimate controlling shareholders are Cleary, his wife, Erin Cleary, and his assistant, Alexandra Johnson, who acts as Clara’s contact point.

Cleary says there is a separate consortium agreement and “there are a number of firms that are funding us while we pass those milestones” of developing the business plan.

An irrigation channel on Trevor Hosie’s farm near Tallygaroopna
 An irrigation channel on Trevor Hosie’s farm near Tallygaroopna. Photograph: Chris Hopkins/The Guardian

He names the computer giant Cisco; the Japanese industrial company Hitachi; the urban planners Roberts Day and Clarke Hopkins Clarke; the consultant PWC; and DLA Piper.

“There are 16 firms who have signed up to the Clara consortium,” Cleary says. “They are part of Clara to deliver a strategic vision. Our financing is coming from large-scale institutional money down the track. We have to go through those milestones.”

He says a number of companies are providing in-kind support. DLA Piper acknowledged that the firm was doing work for Clara, but expressed surprise that it was listed as the consortium’s principal place of business.

Cleary also says he has secured some of the crucial land around the sites of the first two new cities. “We have some land in our control around those locations. It’s around those areas, about 10km from Shepparton.”

But Clara has also had some setbacks. When it launched in 2016, its advisory board included several high-profile former politicians including the former Victorian premier Steve Bracks, the former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell and the former federal trade minister Andrew Robb.

*Only Robb remains.

Robb describes himself as an enthusiastic supporter. “I think there will be a level of surprise about the comprehensive nature of the business plan,” he told Guardian Australia.

*“It doesn’t have to be all taxpayer dollars. Governments are increasingly using value creation as a source of funding. Hong Kong hasn’t spent any taxpayer funds on its underground. Instead it identifies where it will build stations and buys up the land, then builds the retail centres and apartments.”

The Melbourne wealth management company Newhaven was also involved, but its principal, Jay Grant, who served as the consortium’s managing director, pulled out.

So did some of the Americans Clara had approached, including a former US transport secretary, Ray LaHood.

‘He had our hopes right up’

The Guardian has also learned that many of the options Clara signed with landowners along the proposed route for the high-speed train have lapsed, leaving a bitter taste for farmers who were swept away by Cleary’s promises of cities rising from the paddocks.

Rather than put the line though the centre of Shepparton, a move likely to lead to objections, Cleary’s plan involves finding the greenest of greenfield sites. He began securing land around the eight sites for proposed new cities in 2016. One is at Tallygaroopna, population 579, just north of Shepparton.

The farmers who signed up with Cleary in 2017 thought they were on the cusp of a gold rush that would change their lives. But two years on Cleary has not been seen for months, and the options agreements have lapsed.

Farmer Trevor Hosie
 Trevor Hosie was offered compensation for some of the land on his farm near Tallygaroopna. Photograph: Chris Hopkins/The Guardian

Trevor Hosie, who has 120 hectares with “a few sheep and cattle and a bit of irrigation” says it was October or November when he last saw Cleary.

Cleary and his offsider, Alex Johnson, brought teams of engineers and investors to visit the site, but last year the visits stopped, and no one in Tallygaroopna has seen Cleary for about eight months.

“I signed an agreement but it was all their way,” Hosie says. “There was a three-month option, then another one, but then it ran out in October last year.” He had been promised nearly $3m for his farm.

Greig Buckland, a dairy farmer, is particularly aggrieved. “We signed up to it in 2016,” Buckland says, having first spent money on lawyers.

“He told me he’d let me know when it was going public and he did call me the day before it was in the media. He was on TV saying they would be turning the first sod in 2018. But 12 months went by and nothing. I could have sold the dairy farm in that 12 months.”

He add: “He had our hopes right up there. I have tried ringing him many times but got nowhere.”

Other farmers, including Neville Moss of Glenara Angus Stud, were sceptical. Moss says he told Cleary: “I’ll sign when you hand over the money to one of the others.” He is still waiting.

Around Nagambie it’s a similar story. Philip Deane, 65, signed up to sell his land, 8km north-east of the town. He went to the launch at RMIT and was excited by the vision outlined by Cleary and his associates, but especially by the $20m Cleary was offering for his farm.

But the option has now lapsed, along with Deane’s dreams of a comfortable retirement. His son, Wesley, has come back to run the farm.

Cleary insists he still has options on land earmarked for the eight cities.

‘We have not gone and assessed that’

Cleary’s background seems to have passed the Department of Infrastructure by when it funded him.

Around the southern highlands, memories of Cleary’s plan for developing dairy farms, his own included, are still raw. Several families lost money.

Asic records show that the agricultural finance company CNH Capital filed to place him in bankruptcy in May 2010. Cleary sought to discharge the bankruptcy a year later but failed to provide written information about his property and income. He was discharged from bankruptcy in June 2013.

In an excruciating session of Senate estimates last year the deputy secretary of the then Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Luke Yeaman, and the head of rail policy, Andrew Hyles, were forced to admit they were not aware of Cleary’s bankruptcy or that Clara had just $422,700 in capitalisation.

“We fundamentally assess the proposed project that was put in front of us by the company on the basis of the criteria that were in front of us,” Yeaman said. “We didn’t go through a detailed assessment of the company’s history,” he said under questioning from the Labor senator Murray Watt.

Watt then played his ace. “Was the department aware that Mr Cleary is a longtime member of the National party, and that at one time he was even a vice-chairman of the New South Wales Nationals?”

Farmer Trevor Hosie on his farm near Tallygaroopna, Victoria
 Trevor Hosie on his Tallygaroopna farm. Photograph: Chris Hopkins/The Guardian

Hyles said there were a range of partners with the company and that these were “international firms”. “They’re supporting Clara with their own in-kind contributions towards the work of building up this business case,” he said.

He said he was aware of Clara securing land options. “We have not gone and assessed that ourselves at this stage,” Hyles said.

Who the responsible minister was when Clara was chosen as frontrunner to build the most important infrastructure project of this century is less easy to say.

Responsibility for fast rail is shared between the minister for infrastructure and transport and the minister responsible for cities – and the people occupying both jobs have changed regularly.

Angus Taylor, who hails from Goulburn, has been an advocate for the Sydney-to-Melbourne fast rail, as it would go through his electorate. He was minister for cities at the time of the first call for submissions, which yielded 26 proposals, and he was still the minister during the process to whittle it down to a field of 13 which went on to stage two. The transport minister was Darren Chester, a National.

But soon after the stage two bids were submitted in late November 2017, both portfolios changed. Barnaby Joyce became transport minister and Paul Fletcher became cities minister on 20 December.

By February 2018 Joyce was dealing with more personal crises: revelations of his affair with his staffer Vikki Campion had come to light, costing him his marriage, the deputy prime minister’s job and his portfolio.

Campion by this time was working in the office of the Victorian Nationals MP Damien Drum, whose seat covers Shepparton and Tallygaroopna.

By the time the winners were announced on 9 March 2018, the new Nationals leader, Michael McCormack, was transport minister, while Fletcher remained cities minister.

“The whole assessment was considered by cabinet,” Hyles told estimates. He said the three selected after stage two were top of the list the department recommended.

Will bold plan impress government?

Clara and the other two successful groups that shared the $20m are due to hand their business cases to the government imminently.

The other two projects are more conventional and involve state governments and the private sector. They are an upgrade to the line between Sydney and Newcastle, proposed by the NSW government, and a proposal for faster rail between Brisbane and Nambour proposed by North Coast Connect, a consortium involving the property developer Stockland, the engineering firm SMEC and urban planners Urbis.

The Queensland government is giving in-kind support.

Whether Clara will again impress the bureaucrats with its bold plan remains to be seen.

Theoretically, the value uplift model does not depend on government funding. But government support, both state and federal, would be essential to realise a 50-year plan crossing state boundaries.

The government has left itself an exit strategy with Clara.

“The Australian Government funding contribution to the Clara proposal is up to $8,000,000,” its fact sheets on high-speed rail say. “However, it should be noted that financial support for the development of a business case does not indicate Australian Government support for delivery of a project.”

The question is: would such a move set high-speed rail back another decade or more?

• Next: How faster rail could change our cities

Know more? anne.davies@theguardian.com

Nick Cleary

SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/05/too-good-to-be-true-australias-high-speed-rail-dream-leaves-a-bitter-taste?CMP=share_btn_tw&fbclid=IwAR1u9U1pcDpNzIHBFk8PMdvze3lOH_-uGPJVxx4LLyB2dHweEmU64O_7OXk

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https://www.facebook.com/Community-Action-Alliance-for-NSW-744190798994541/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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SCOMO ROLLS OUT $2BN HIGH SPEED RAIL PROPOSAL  

Scott Morrison Rolls Out $2bn High Speed Rail Proposal

fff4ab01-c9cd-4823-8a4c-7c430ba5343b

Prime minister Scott Morrison has thrown federal support behind two major fast rail proposals, committing $40 million in funding for five new business cases as part of its wider plan to connect Australia’s capitals to regional centres.

 

High-speed trains would travel at speeds of up to 200km/hr, cutting the Melbourne to Geelong commute to just 32 minutes, while Brisbane to the Gold Coast would take just 35 minutes.

At a press conference in Melbourne on Friday, the prime minister promised $2 billion in investment for the Geelong-Melbourne fast rail service. The Victorian government would need to match the $2 billion federal contribution for the project to be viable.

Minister for Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge joined the prime minister and treasurer Josh Frydenberg at the announcement on Friday, saying construction on the Geelong-Melbourne link could begin in as little as 18 months.

“This is all part of our plan to manage population growth [t]o take the pressure off our big cities like Melbourne and make our regional cities like Geelong even more attractive places to live and work,” prime minister Scott Morrison said.

 

Related: High Time for High Speed Inland Rail

Victorian transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan said that the Geelong-Melbourne connection would cost at least $10 billion, much more than the $4 billion the government has estimated.

Victorian transport infrastructure minister Jacinta Allan said that the Geelong-Melbourne connection would cost at least $10 billion, much more than the $4 billion the government has estimated.Jacinta Allan MP / Twitter.
The prime minister also flagged plans for a “congestion busting” Gold Coast to Brisbane link.Gold Coast-based federal member Karen Andrews said that a fast rail link will reduce commuter travel times and get people off the M1.

“Easing the commute from the Gold Coast to Brisbane is something I’ve long fought for.

“Improving rail connectivity will complement the work happening to upgrade the M1 to get people home to their loved ones sooner, boost productivity and create jobs.”

High speed rail between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast is already on the cards, with the Queensland project securing business case funding from the Turnbull government in early 2018.

Among other fast rail election promises, shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese pledged $2.8 billion in funding for a high-speed inland rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane.

While the Berejiklian government identified at least four potential high-speed routes within 300 kilometres of Sydney in December.

In its 2018 budget, the Andrews’ government announced $50 million of funding to develop a business case for the Geelong to Melbourne link.

If elected, the Coalition said it will create a National Fast Rail Agency to guide the work and determine priorities for the construction and funding of the projects.


The government committed to five fast rail business cases: Brisbane to Gold Coast; Melbourne to Albury Wodonga; Melbourne to Traralgon; Sydney to Wollongong and Sydney to Parkes.

The government committed to five fast rail business cases: Brisbane to Gold Coast; Melbourne to Albury Wodonga; Melbourne to Traralgon; Sydney to Wollongong and Sydney to Parkes.

 

 

Photo:  Herald Sun

HSR enabling Developers Rezoning Farmlands for House and Land Packages for Overseas Buyers in Our Regions?

 

LOOK at the Who’s Who of those “on the make” revealed here … and as previously shared with you … Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) has robbed Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) of its development of HSR connecting Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane … it was what we all wanted to replace a polluting second airport at Badgery’s Creek.

CLARA is about “Value Capture” …  a $200B dream of an entrepreneur from NSW Southern Highlands, Nick Cleary who has assembled a consortium of Hitachi, GE and a board including Andrew Robb (sold our Darwin Port), Barry O’Farrell, Steve Bracks, and teams at RMIT and CSIRO working on designs for “smart cities”

Join the dots with the Scomo Government push for migrants/visa holders for the regions … and with ever more foreign students 

More farmlands to be rezoned for house and land packages for foreign buyers … will the NSW Legislation for compulsory acquisition and land amalgamation come into force?  So much for the environment … zip …

To find out more also view:

Bennelong MP John Alexander Magic Bullet … 15 MILLION Mega City from Newcastle to Nowra

And SEARCH for CLARA

P.S. vote them out …

How high-speed rail would affect prices and spark investment in regional centres

By Ingrid Fuary-Wagner
12 Dec 2018 

 

A high-speed rail network out of Sydney would spark significant investment and population growth driving up property prices by up to 25 per cent, say developers and business interests already positioning themselves for the growth.

In the lead-up to a state election in 2019, the NSW government recently announced its vision for four potential high-speed rail corridors from Sydney – to Orange, Nowra, Canberra and Newcastle – that would improve connectivity and cut travel time to regional centres up to 75 per cent.

The Labor opposition supports a fast rail between Canberra and Sydney as well, while its Victorian counterpart has opted to spend $50 billion on a suburban rail network in Melbourne.

A high-speed connection from Sydney to Canberra via a second Sydney airport and Goulburn would allow commuters to get between the two cities in an hour, while a trip from Sydney to Newcastle would take 45 minutes and half an hour to Wollongong.

David Borger says such a project would drive investment around regional hubs and designated Sydney stations. Brook_Mitchell

Sydney-based developer Colin Curran, chief executive of Maxiwealth Holdings, said property prices and demand in Goulburn would increase significantly if the high-speed rail went ahead.

“[Prices] could increase by as much as 25 per cent in the initial period, which would push a standard block from $260,000 up to over $300,000 or $350,000 – but you’d still be well under the prices of Sydney,” he said.

Investment hotspots

But while developers would probably jump at the opportunity to invest in Goulburn, Mr Curran said there was not a lot of land available and it would be up to the council to rezone it.

Mr Curran is already ahead of the curve having noticed the potential of the regional town several years ago. He has several projects in Goulburn under way, including house and land packages with an affordable housing component, as well as a proposal for a mixed-use development with 30 apartments and a childcare centre .

“Goulburn is our main focus, I think it’s got a lot of potential, especially once this train is planned and it goes past the new Badgerys Creek airport,” he said.

Adam Murchie, director of real estate investment firm Forza Capital, said proximity to strong public transport infrastructure such as high-speed rail would be a major driver of residential and commercial offices, and land in and around transport nodes like Goulburn or Lithgow would become “hugely beneficial”.

A fast-train link could cut travel time from Sydney to Canberra from four hours to one hour.

Mr Murchie also identified Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle as potential investment hotspots, citing the universities in each city as a key driver.

“You’d be unlocking those areas in the way of the rail infrastructure and creating a framework that allows people to remain in those areas,” Mr Murchie said. “With increasing pressure for universities to commercialise the research that they are doing, a lot of people [who have studied or worked at a university] tend to stay in those areas”.

Mr Murchie said a high-speed rail network could take the pressure off Sydney housing and property prices, depending on how much demand was shifted to regional locations.

“[A fast-rail network] could get house prices in Sydney closer back to the point of equilibrium, in terms of keeping price growth constrained, not zero, but fairer so your price growth marries up with economic and wages growth,” he said.

There are four potential high-speed train lines out of Sydney the NSW government will investigate. Supplied

While a fast-rail network could take some pressure of housing constraints and affordability in Sydney, property in those regional hubs and around earmarked Sydney stations would become more expensive as demand increased.

“The places within an hour or hour and a half of Sydney would have the biggest increase in values, and [it would become less affordable] for people living in Sydney who are close to those high-speed rail stops, which would be the catalyst for residential and potentially commercial office development because they are accessible to a wider workforce,” town planner and Western Sydney director of the Sydney Business Chamber David Borger said.

Wollongong connection

Mr Borger anticipates developers and investors would start to reserve and acquire land around those corridors and stations earmarked for a high-speed rail ahead of time if there were certainty around the project.

“The important thing is the market will respond to certainty and if lines could be locked in early and the market can be given a degree of confidence it could actually happen you might see some investment starting to occur before the public transport is delivered,” Mr Borger said.

It currently takes about four hours on the train from Sydney to Canberra. Graham Tidy

Improving connectivity between Sydney and Wollongong would not only encourage more residents to move to the coastal city but would see an increase in investment flows and businesses relocating there too, according to Wollongong City Council economic development manager Mark Grimson.

“One of the unique features of Wollongong is that we have a large commuter pool so we have a ready-made workforce. There are 9000 white-collar managers and professionals commuting to Sydney every day and 300 CEOs and general managers. If you improved connectivity between Sydney and Wollongong there’s no doubt it would also make it more attractive to have your business located here,” he said.

Mr Grimson said there had been $1.3 billion of investment in Wollongong’s CBD in the past five years and a high-speed rail connection would see that grow even further.

More businesses would move to Wollongong if there was a faster train connection, Wollongong City Council economic development manager Mark Grimso says. JohnCarnemolla

 

 

SOURCE:  https://www.afr.com/real-estate/how-highspeed-rail-would-affect-prices-and-spark-investment-in-regional-centres-20181206-h18t4e

GREEN FIELDS AND BLUE SKY … Is Nick Cleary’s ambitious CLARA project the answer to Australia’s fast-rail question?

 

CLARA sounds good but it has taken away from BZE. Clara is about “Value Capture” ….

Community Action Alliance for NSW shared a post.  January 14, 2017

THE TURNBULL GOVERNMENT RELEASES ITS VALUE CAPTURE DISCUSSION PAPER …

WHY DOESN’T THIS GOVERNMENT ISSUE GOVERNMENT BONDS BECAUSE THAT IS HOW THIS NATION WAS BUILT … DEVELOPED? GOVT BONDS FOR THE MUM & DAD INVESTORS TO INVEST IN OUR INFRASTRUCTURE …

BEGS the question WHY doesn’t the Turnbull Govt pursue Beyond Zero Emissions?

BUT what we are experiencing in this Nation and especially in NSW is a transfer … a pipeline of our Public Assets to private interests with some $130 Billion worth of public assets sold off in NSW alone!

Note with the LNP way it ties in with their population Ponzi scheme and higher density …

CAAN has touched on this topic from time to time, and we offer some “food for thought” … it comes back to the “Culture which is established at the very Top” ..

Value Capture is about billing the people who get the benefit of the Infrastructure Project contrary to those in its path with Compulsory Acquisition, and being shortchanged on the market value of their properties.

WILL the “I am not a Totalitarian Government” tax those that get the benefits to give it to the people who lose their homes or businesses?

A prime example of this is WestCONnex during the construction phase of 2 – 5 years the victims have lost $Millions!

Sydney Metro accused of ‘unfair pressure tactics’ in acquiring homes
Property owners undergoing compulsory acquisition told compensation offers expire in 21 days

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/compulsory-acquisition-sydney-metro-accused-of-unfair-pressure-tactics-20161028-gscowk.html

 

VALUE CAPTURE … it’s pernicious … it’s saying to everyone in the community “I have got this idea and I am going to make you pay for my idea”!

THE GREENS NOT KEEN ON PRIVATE HIGH SPEED RAIL PLAN WITH VALUE CAPTURE AND FOREIGN INVESTMENT

https://www.railexpress.com.au/greens-not-keen-on-private-high-speed-plan/?fbclid=IwAR3CDI2H3fVdMHujK9N7tcs8sWcrlnDHw_U_I7TYO0uMr0LBbqW2Mrc_2VQ

THIS IS WHY!

“The Greens have concerns about information absent from today’s announced CLARA proposal, apparently due to “commercial in confidence” considerations.

“Being asked to ‘just trust us’ is not good enough for a project of this scale.”
THE TURNBULL GOVERNMENT RELEASES ITS VALUE CAPTURE DISCUSSION PAPER

Australian Government releases Value Capture Discussion Paper
November 20, 2016

USING ‘value capture’ to help deliver more infrastructure is the subject of a discussion paper released last week by Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher and Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor.

The discussion paper examines the potential to more widely use value capture funding to supplement the billions of dollars each year already spent by all three levels of Australian governments on infrastructure.

Read more:  http://www.urbanalyst.com/in-the-news/australia/4228-australian-government-releases-value-capture-discussion-paper.html?fbclid=IwAR3SCd788M3FTKghkpXGiZ1dpU2486A8yeT5xTxX2djvgEAx_-68C5fBJz4

 

 

DECEMBER 2016 – JANUARY 2017

ESSAYS

Paddy Manning

GREEN FIELDS AND BLUE SKY

Photo by Paddy Manning

Is Nick Cleary’s ambitious CLARA project the answer to Australia’s fast-rail question?

It’s the second-last “Joker Poker” raffle night at the Doodle Cooma Arms, and the crowd’s getting happily sozzled. For now the bistro is flat out serving $12 pizzas but next week the only pub in the New South Wales town of Henty, population 900, will close. The much-loved local has been on the market a while – offers over $300,000 – but the owner’s had enough. The local butcher, Trav, who’s sitting at the bar, says he’d buy it himself if he had the money.

“Henty is dying!” says third-generation grazier Doug Meyer, the 71-year-old deputy mayor of the Greater Hume Shire, who desperately hopes to save his home town. The bowlo still looks busy, but given the age of the members its days are probably numbered too. Where there were seven bank branches before, now there’s just one, a Bendigo franchise owned by the community. Despite a fitful “shop local” campaign, Henty’s main street feels empty: everyone who needs anything heads off to Wagga Wagga, or Albury-Wodonga, both 45 minutes away by car.

Yet this is the heart of the Riverina, source of 70% of Australia’s food, at the beginning of what should be a decades-long soft-commodities boom. City folk might have never heard of the place, but farmers have; every year, 60,000 of them converge for one of the key fixtures on the agribusiness calendar, Henty Machinery Field Days.

Right now the rural economy is buoyant: prices for beef and lamb are high; crops are in increasing demand overseas, and there is plenty of water around (in some places, too much). The grass has never been greener.

Roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, in the most settled corner of the country, Henty should be pumping. It isn’t: farm aggregation and automation mean employment in agriculture is declining, even as production goes up. As is the case in most country towns, the kids from Billabong High soon head off to the big cities for jobs or degrees, sapping population growth. So it’s last drinks at the Doodle.

It’s a familiar tale. What’s different now is that a private company, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), has turned up in Henty with a plan to build a city of between 250,000 and 400,000 people, five minutes out of town, on a site between Munyabla and Pleasant Hills. As if that’s not ambitious enough, CLARA’s plan is that Henty would be the fifth of eightentirely new cities it would develop over three decades, along the route of a new high-speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne.

It’s the $200 billion dream of an entrepreneur from the NSW Southern Highlands, Nick Cleary, a one-time dairy farmer, financial adviser and auctioneer, who has assembled a consortium of corporate giants such as Hitachi and GE, a high-powered advisory board including former federal trade minister Andrew Robb and former state premiers Steve Bracks and Barry O’Farrell, and has crack teams at RMIT and CSIRO working up concept designs for his new compact, zero-carbon, water-recycling, fibre-connected “smart cities”.

Never mind that Australia has no inland city of a quarter of a million people apart from Canberra. Or that Australia has been talking about a very fast train for more than 30 years. Cleary is powering ahead.

Unusually, the CLARA plan makes no call on government finances: it is 100% funded from what’s called “value capture”, tapping into the known increase in property value that occurs when land is rezoned and infrastructure such as fast rail goes in. Cleary has been running up and down the Hume Highway, doing secret option deals with farmers, agreeing to buy their paddocks for multiples of what they’re worth now, providing he can get his plan up in the next four years. Cleary says he has about half of the land he needs sewn up, having struck deals with 73 farmers so far, but the clock is ticking. Often value capture involves government taxes and charges levied on developers, with revenue hypothecated back to fund infrastructure spending, but CLARA’s plan is even simpler. If federal, state and local governments back the plan, Cleary and his co-investors will make so much money out of the hundred-fold uplift in property values that spending $50 billion on a high-speed railway will be the least of their worries.

It’s an extreme, privatised version of “build it and they will come”, and is what happens when governments give up on the kind of nation-building that created our bush capital or the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. Instead of a railway built on sound engineering and rational economics, we get a route based on a series of joined-up land deals struck cheaply by an opportunist with “vision”. It leads to some almost random outcomes. Henty, the furthest stop from Sydney or Melbourne, is the most unlikely site of CLARA’s eight new cities, and Cleary admits it would be the last to be developed, perhaps in 2035. Henty was only chosen because it is equidistant from Wagga and Albury, which have been considered certain stops under most fast-rail proposals on the Sydney–Melbourne corridor, but are bypassed under CLARA’s plan, and only serviced by secondary spur lines. Wagga and Albury representatives are miffed, wondering why one wouldn’t capitalise on the investment in their existing cities instead of plonking a station in the middle of nowhere. “It’s a Utopiamoment,” quips Albury’s mayor, Kevin Mack, in a cutting reference to the ABC comedy series.

But former National Party leader and deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, a train aficionado who was a member of the High Speed Rail Advisory Group set up in 2013 by the then Labor government, tells me that CLARA’s new station at Henty is far from crazy and “never has been”. Almost 20 years ago, as a member of the Howard government, Fischer was championing a Sydney–Canberra high-speed rail line and, as opening speaker at one of Henty’s field days, kidded that in the future a nearby station would allow farmers to arrive by very fast train. “From that point on,” says Doug Meyer, “anybody that lived near the Henty field day site got nervous.” Fischer blames a “lack of boldness” for Australia’s failure to build high-speed rail by now.

Meyer knows a fast train to Henty won’t happen in his lifetime. Indeed talking about it, he can barely keep a straight face. “Face facts, I’m not going to be here when this station has its grand opening.” As someone who fought hard to get a resolution up at a local government conference last year to divert one of the northern rivers into the Darling, Meyer laments Australia’s loss of get-up-and-go. “It won’t go anywhere because the people of Australia these days don’t think further ahead than what they can see. If the same attitude existed in the times of the Snowy Mountains scheme it never would’ve been built. We’ve changed from being nation-builders to being people more concerned with things that could go wrong.”

Per capita, Australia is the third-richest nation on earth by economic output, according to International Monetary Fund figures from last year. We have $2 trillion in superannuation funds, the fourth-biggest pool of assets in the world. Even so, we have chronically under-invested in energy, water, transport and communications infrastructure. Our electricity grid is among the dirtiest in the world, we refuse to recycle water, our internet is patchy-to-abysmal and urban congestion costs billions every year.

The route between Sydney and Melbourne, which is the fourth- or fifth-busiest air corridor in the world, has been identified as the single most lucrative high-speed rail opportunity globally. Foreign companies are lining up to build it. Central Japan Railway Company, who pioneered high-speed rail in 1964, has had an office in Sydney since 1988 waiting patiently for Australia to catch up. Yet today fast-rail networks are spreading out on every continent bar two: ours, and Antarctica.

High-speed rail has long been talked about as an alternative to aviation, which is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. This is missing the point, says Cleary. It’s the regional development along the way that matters most. Fast rail connecting our two biggest capitals would rebalance Australian settlement towards the inland, away from the coast where the majority live. Says Cleary: “Rather than two cities with millions of people sitting on the edge of the coast looking out to sea, with this vast landmass behind us, it’s time that we started looking at [this] opportunity and opening it up.”

The alternative is the unchecked sprawl of Sydney and Melbourne, where property prices are already astronomical, and where commuters spend up to three hours a day in cars just getting to work and back. Cleary calls them vampire cities: people leave home so early and get home so late that they only ever see one another in the dark. Meanwhile, prime farmland on the edge of the metropolis disappears under residential subdivision. On current projections, the two capitals will swallow up between 8 and 11 million of the 14 million new Australians expected by 2050. “I think if you said that to most people in Sydney and Melbourne they’d nearly die,” says Cleary. “Because everyone knows that the system is already congested and it’s overflowing.”

Former tennis champion John Alexander is the Liberal backbencher who has chaired the yearlong Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, looking at the role of transport connectivity. After all the feasibility studies over the years, he sees a “perfect storm of opportunity” to finally make high-speed rail happen, funded entirely by value capture. When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was presented with the CLARA plan in March, he said it was “all my dreams come true”, although he later added that things that looked too good to be true often were.

High-speed rail: it has to happen; it will never happen. Two sides of a coin, spinning around forever. Can Australia even do nation-building anymore?

In the great Australian land-grab, we have had our share of visionaries who dreamed of building new cities – from Boydtown to the Multi-Function Polis – only to come a cropper. The overly ambitious property developer is part of our psyche: at best we get NSW governor Lachlan Macquarie or Lend Lease founder Dick Dusseldorp; at worst we get Eddie Obeid or the syphilitic Tasmanian commandant in Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish, who winds up circling on his national railway, 200 yards long, admiring the backdrops painted especially for him.

We have also had stop-start, government-led attempts at regional development. Back in 1973, for example, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam invested almost $100 million to make Albury-Wodonga home to 300,000 people by the turn of the century. Malcolm Fraser cut the decentralisation plan three years later, and the twin cities now have a population of around 90,000.

For sheer audacity, the CLARA plan to build eight new cities trumps them all, and Nick Cleary is a most unlikely proponent. Now 40, Cleary grew up on a dairy farm in Bowral, some 100 kilometres south-west of Sydney. After leaving school he did a farm apprenticeship, but instead of working for his dad Cleary struck out on his own, managing the properties of Sydney-based absentee farmers, subcontracting the work out, and making a margin. Meanwhile, he studied business and finance, and worked as a financial planner. After getting married and starting a family, Cleary bought his own dairy in 2004, with 500 cows, but ran into debt within a couple of years as fuel and feed prices doubled, and milk prices halved. With interest rates on business loans skyrocketing, four young kids and another on the way, the Clearys were completely wiped out in the financial crisis. They lost the dairy, their home, everything except a second-hand Ford they bought for $2500. The family company is named after the car’s number plate, WHA-240, now framed at home. Then in his early 30s, Cleary had to work four jobs to get back on his feet, and for a while he woke at 2 am each morning to deliver newspapers. Eventually he went into business coaching and then real estate. His Twitter account, sprinkled with inspirational quotes from Gandhi and Confucius to Lincoln and Mandela, turned into a picture-stream: Cleary on his feet, auctioning off homes all over Sydney, rolled-up contract held tightly in hand. Sold! Sold! Sold!

Five years ago, Cleary had a really big idea: he chose what he thought would be a perfect site for Sydney’s second airport, near Sutton Forest, south of Bowral, and took an option over it. An option to buy land is a handy tool for developers with a grandiose scheme and no means to pay for it yet. It is simply a contract to pay a set price for a property at a specified time in the future, on satisfaction of certain conditions. Cleary imagined an inland, intermodal port on his site, connected by fast rail back to Sydney’s Central Station, and via a freight line to Wollongong’s Port Kembla, generating plenty of jobs, and eventually a whole new city. He was convinced it made much more sense than building the airport at Badgerys Creek on the fringe of Sydney’s heavily populated south-western suburbs. But Cleary, a long-time member of the National Party, had misread the political debate. After 50 years of delay, the Badgerys option was firming, and the vision faltered.

Not to be discouraged, Cleary saw new potential for the Sutton Forest site, which would later become the first stop under CLARA’s even bolder high-speed rail plan. In the lead-up to the 2010 election, in a deal to win Green preferences, the then transport minister, Labor’s Anthony Albanese, had promised a $20 million feasibility study into high-speed rail on the east coast. Three years later a comprehensive ‘High Speed Rail Study: Phase 2 Report’ led by consultants AECOM came up with an optimal route: one costing $50 billion, from Sydney to Melbourne, with a spur line off to Canberra; and another, from Sydney to Newcastle to Brisbane, with a spur line off to the Gold Coast, costing $64 billion. The 534-page report remains the most authoritative look at high-speed rail in Australia, although there is still plenty of debate about its assumptions and conclusions. The most pressing need, the report found, was to protect the corridor. Each time high-speed rail has been studied over the years – in the 1980s it was the Very Fast Train, in the 1990s there was the Speedrail consortium – the projected cost of construction has gone up as more of the corridor is built over, meaning more expensive tunnelling under the cities. When Labor set up its heavyweight High Speed Rail Advisory Group, it put aside $50 million to establish a planning authority, including the states, to reserve the corridor. After the 2013 election, Tony Abbott, who wanted to be known as the “infrastructure prime minister” but preferred to fund private tollways, abolished the advisory group, and counted the $50 million as a budget saving. High-speed rail was dead in the water, again.

Not for Nick Cleary, who only saw opportunity. The impetus came from a chance meeting with John Alexander in Wahroonga, northern Sydney, in 2015, where Cleary was the auctioneer at a Rotary Club charity dinner. While in Opposition, Abbott had put Alexander in charge of a taskforce on sustainable cities policy, and another on a 2020 vision. Chatting over dinner that night, Cleary told Alexander of his dream to link Sydney and Canberra by high-speed rail, via the Southern Highlands and Goulburn, all privately funded. “Why stop there?” Alexander asked. It was a light-bulb moment. Fired up, Cleary spent the next six weeks poring over the Sydney–Melbourne high-speed rail corridor identified in the Phase 2 Report. Then, rather than wait for federal and state governments to declare the corridor officially, Cleary decided to roll the dice and put his foot on key sites along the way.

However, Cleary soon had to depart dramatically from the corridor identified by the experts, which proposed seven stations between Sydney’s Central Station and Melbourne’s Southern Cross: at Holsworthy in Sydney’s south; Mittagong; Civic in Canberra; Wagga Wagga; Albury-Wodonga; Shepparton; and the northern Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield. Cleary couldn’t option cheap land in those places, where tracts were already cut up into small lots. He needed to negotiate with a minimum number of parties, over big parcels of land – between 5000 and 10,000 acres for each of his new cities. Cleary says he never told the owners why he wanted to buy their land: “We didn’t want it to get out into the media because we see one of our major assets is to have the land under our legal control. What we did tell our landowners was that it was a significant infrastructure project that was going to mean jobs to their region. We couldn’t tell them any more about that at that point in time.”

Since going public, Cleary says the response from landowners has been overwhelmingly positive. “Certainly none of them have asked for a better price.”

Cleary needs his landowners onside, and has to pay them an annual fee to keep his option alive. The result of Cleary’s acquisition spree, which has so far cost CLARA just under $3 million, is eight of the greenest-of-greenfield sites you could imagine: Sutton Forest; Marulan, east of Goulburn; Jerrawa, east of Yass; the junction of the Hume and Snowy Mountains highways, south of Gundagai; Munyabla, west of Henty; Tocumwal, on the Murray River; Tallygaroopna, north of Shepparton; and Nagambie Lakes. Each site is a 5- to 15-minute drive from anywhere, but Cleary sees this as a selling point. He’s not wrong: under CLARA’s plan, apart from becoming outposts of a nearby larger city, the heritage and character of existing towns along the corridor will be preserved. Just as the locals like it.

Semi-retired real estate agent Peter Curlewis, who has agreed to sell CLARA his 311-acre farm at Jerrawa, told me how the negotiation went down. Curlewis is 76, and says his wife prefers their flat in Canberra nowadays, so she can go to the galleries and shows. Curlewis’ son is too busy managing the family’s real-estate agency to keep up the running of the farm. One day, Curlewis received a letter from CLARA and, curious, he made an appointment to meet Cleary. Land near Yass sells for $1500–$2000 an acre, but Cleary was offering to pay him two or three times that. (The figures are confidential.) Curlewis agreed, and also offered to help sign up local farmers through the family agency. “Initially there was a fair bit of surprise and scepticism,” he says. “I think there’s now a realisation that it’s probably going to happen.”

Farmers are not necessarily telling their neighbours about their decision to sell to CLARA. At the site south of Gundagai, I walked up the driveway of one property to ask about the plan. A city of a quarter-million people might be built a few hundred metres away, I said to the owners. They had never heard of it – not CLARA, not the fast rail, not the new city, not a thing. Yet their own hillside features in the promo video on CLARA’s website.

CLARA relies on the more obscure sites like Henty or Tocumwal. They have to build all eight cities, Cleary tells me, to fund the whole line. “The eight cities [plan] works because it’s only got 400,000 people [per city]. Some people say, ‘Why have eight cities? Why not just have four cities?’ If we had four cities of 800,000 people the pressure would be so great it’d be inefficient. Or they’d be so wide that we’d get urban sprawl and defeat the whole purpose of what we’re trying to achieve. There are certain metrics that will make this work. If we were to cut out certain cities we can’t pay for the whole thing. That’s the reality of it.”

CLARA’s plan is technology-agnostic: the choice of engineering partner will determine whether the line will be steel on wheel, magnetic-levitation technology, or involve something else entirely. The assumption is that on average the trains will travel at 450 kilometres an hour or more, meaning Sydney to Melbourne will take less than two hours. CLARA envisages a roll out in three phases: first, Melbourne to Shepparton, which will be documented and submitted to the Victorian government early next year as an unsolicited or market-led proposal; second, Sydney to Goulburn; third, Yass to Canberra. Or something like that. Cleary admits it’s a moveable feast.

Roughly, CLARA’s numbers go like this: farm land bought for an average of $1000 per housing lot is transformed into eight cities with roughly 165,000 lots in each, sold at the equivalent of $150,000 per lot (8 x 165,000 x $150,000 ≈ $200 billion). Of the $149,000 uplift per dwelling allotment, $80,000 is for civil infrastructure, $35,000 will fund the rail, and $34,000 is CLARA’s profit margin. The plan is to sell down CLARA in stages (mainly as non-voting shares to retain control), culminating in a $4 billion-plus float after the scheme has all necessary approvals and construction is set to begin, scheduled for 2021. Based on the market capitalisation of other listed developers, the float should value CLARA at more than $30 billion. With a stake of roughly 30%, Cleary alone would be worth a cool $9 billion. He plays that down. “There would be plenty of money to go around but I haven’t even thought about that,” he says. “It’s certainly not the driving factor. If you did this because you were going to get a big payday you’d be mad … My aim here is to make a difference, to provide a solution, and to implement that solution. And if we do all right out of it? Great.”

What he doesn’t want is a federal government call for expressions of interest or a tender that would consider all comers on an equal basis. Rivals are emerging, from Chinese and Korean consortia to the American “Hyperloop”, brainchild of Tesla’s Elon Musk, which would send cars of 24 people down vacuum tubes at near-supersonic speeds. Quicker than a plane, Hyperloop technology is straight out of science fiction. Sydney to Melbourne would take less than an hour; Sydney to Newcastle, ten minutes; Melbourne to Shepparton, five. In late October, Hyperloop One executive Alan James told John Alexander’s Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, “if you connect A and B with a railway, you get A plus B. If you connect A and B with a Hyperloop, you get ‘AB-ville’; effectively, a single economy where it does not really matter where you live or work.”

With such powerful competitors breathing down his neck, Cleary wants CLARA’s plan picked up right now, as he told the same standing committee. If the fast-rail planning process is opened up to all comers, “the risk is that we do not get started. [That] is a risk that we do not want to take. There are opportunities there … We are not looking for money. We are not looking for any legislative changes. We are looking for the existing planning framework to be placed on top of our sites … [We have] a unique idea and a tremendous vision that can be implemented with the land we have, and with the opportunity that exists.”

He urged the government to “show leadership” and warned that a tender process would take years.

With CLARA having its foot on the land, Cleary imagines it is in the box seat. But that is true only if governments agree to his corridor. Some days after Cleary’s appearance, Alexander told me that his job was to look at the national interest, not CLARA’s interest, and the committee was quite likely to recommend a call for expressions of interest.

Cleary doesn’t mind being called a dreamer, or even crazy. People said the same thing about his hero, Maha Sinnathamby, the Malaysian immigrant of Tamil descent who has spent the past 25 years building a new city, Springfield, on the outskirts of Brisbane. Cleary says Sinnathamby, worth more than $900 million according to the BRW Rich List and certain to be crowned a billionaire, was an “absolute inspiration of mine” since the very beginning. He devoured Sinnathamby’s biography, Stop Not Till the Goal Is Reached, published in 2012, and went to Springfield, which he describes as a “magnificent achievement”. Cleary once tried to get a meeting with Sinnathamby, but admits, “I was a bit too much of a dreamer at the time, and maybe I just couldn’t get through the PA.”

Sinnathamby’s success, while overcoming deep-seated racial prejudice, is one of those rare demonstrations that Australia can be a land of opportunity. It is easy to see why Cleary would find in him a kindred spirit. Like Cleary, Sinnathamby went broke, but turned things around. Like Cleary, Sinnathamby spruiks optimism and an all-conquering determination, and believes the key is to lobby relentlessly for infrastructure. Springfield is the model for CLARA, the closest thing to the kind of “smart city” Cleary would like to build: “[He] got the government to spend $400 million to put a rail link out to his site. That made all the difference. [That] meant that he could get a site that was probably very low density – even rural-residential almost – and convert that to much higher density and a viable, almost inland, city … [CLARA] is just a bigger version really of what Maha has achieved. It’s in action now. They’ve got 30,000 people there; it’s just amazing.”

When I visit Springfield (not named after the Simpsons’ home town), the middle of it is still a vast construction site where monolithic office and apartment towers are springing out of the ground, and earthworks are underway for new health and education precincts. Aside from the Springfield Land Corporation’s own headquarters, there is a data centre and a building for GE, and lots of cars. To me the place feels more like a sprawling business park than a city. But between the two train stations and the big shopping centre, the hospital and a University of Southern Queensland campus, there are people everywhere and it looks busy. Some of the housing looks established, nestling up to man-made lakes or the Greg Norman–designed golf course, and resale prices are said to be healthy. There is no urban fabric, to the eye at least, but Sinnathamby is honest enough to admit a city’s culture takes a long time to develop, and the process can’t be forced. “You can’t pump it,” he says. “It’s not natural.” Importantly, Sinnathamby says, there are jobs at Springfield, where the unemployment rate is 3%. Sinnathamby was determined not to build a dormitory city, full of commuters to Brisbane. By focusing on education, health and technology, Springfield has emerged as a rival to Ipswich, which is increasingly jealous of its neighbour’s success.

Sinnathamby is sympathetic to Cleary’s plan. “I admire his courage and enthusiasm … I think as far as a [high-speed] rail line goes between Sydney and Melbourne, it is very important to have that, we all recognise it and somebody has to do it.” But Sinnathamby laughs, with a convincing mania, when he says that he and his team have worked 24 x 7 for 25 years to make Springfield, population 34,000, what it is today. Sinnathamby says building eight cities from scratch along the Sydney–Melbourne corridor, each ten times bigger than Springfield, would take “a superhuman effort”. Unlike in India or China, he says, people can’t be moved around at will.

Obviously, Cleary hopes to become as rich as Sinnathamby is, except his timelines are much shorter: he wants to do it in five years.

Sometimes it seems CLARA’s wheels are already coming off. Its first managing director, financier Jay Grant, quit in July, and Cleary won’t say why. Grant’s firm, Newhaven Wealth, has since sold out of its shareholding in CLARA – whether at a profit or loss is unclear. Announcement of a replacement managing director was apparently imminent at time of writing. Meanwhile, Steve Bracks and Barry O’Farrell have both resigned from the advisory board. They were only ever going to be involved at the launch, Cleary says, and remain supporters of the project. Neither returned calls from the Monthly. Andrew Robb, who remains on the advisory board, which meets by phone, was overseas and also unavailable for comment. Cleary is raising $35 million to fund the first stage of the project, and that process, originally expected by the end of 2016, will not be finalised until March–April. When I asked the prime minister’s office and those of the NSW and Victorian premiers about CLARA’s plan, there was no comment. ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has already said he is “very wary” of CLARA’s plan. Decentralisation, after all, is not really in Canberra’s interest.

At this stage it’s not even worth picking holes in the CLARA plan. It’s almost all hole. Without the most basic details – like where, or when – local mayors whose shires might host one of CLARA’s new cities are scratching their heads. Their in-principle reactions range from doubtful to enthusiastic, but the conversation occurs in the same way one might talk about living on Mars. The new mayor of Wingecarribee Shire, Ken Halstead, ponders whether residents of the toney Southern Highlands want a quarter of a million refugees from Sydney shoehorned into their district. On his own stomping ground, Cleary admits, “We’ve had a mixed review here, to be honest with you.” The new mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree, Bob Kirk, points out how many years it took, and how much money was spent, to put in just one new water pipeline to supply an expected 30,000 residents by 2030, in a city whose dams got below 3% during the millennium drought. Kirk’s predecessor, Geoff Kettle, who pulled together a coalition of 18 councils supporting high-speed rail when Labor was in government, is very supportive of CLARA, but questions whether it has the right end of the stick, and should be doing Sydney–Canberra before Melbourne–Shepparton. Shepparton mayor Dinny Adem, who spoke at CLARA’s launch six months ago, is a big fan, although he says a decent heavy rail service to Melbourne – like Bendigo’s – is a much higher priority. Agribusiness after all is a highly globalised industry, on the cusp of a boom, and recent free-trade agreements open up massive opportunities for the area. Adem has struck a deal to export nectarines directly to China; apples and pears, apricots and plums are next. Having said that, Shepparton almost lost its famous SPC cannery a few years ago and was looking shaky even in November.

For all the meetings and presentations, CLARA has made no formal submissions to any of the councils, and none have lines on maps, or have incorporated any potential high-speed rail corridor into local planning. Many councils have just had elections. High-speed rail wasn’t even a lower-order issue in any of them. However, not one of the councillors I spoke to dismissed the CLARA plan. Anything to give country towns a boost, an economic imperative, and stop the kids leaving. Even those who haven’t met Cleary endorse his ambition.

While researching this story I contacted the Australasian Railways Association, whose spokesperson, Emma Woods, at one point said that the obvious first steps for high-speed rail in this country were to protect the corridor and choose a technology, so that smaller, more affordable networks that grew organically from the major capitals – whether from Melbourne to Shepparton, Sydney to Newcastle, or Brisbane to the Gold Coast – could eventually be joined up with confidence. “All it takes is for federal, state and local governments to work together,” she said. At which point I had to laugh.

Even if our creaking federation can be made to work, nothing will kill off a long-range project more effectively than politics as usual. In 2013, former Goulburn mayor Geoff Kettle was at Parliament House for an industry get-together on high-speed rail, on the very night Kevin Rudd deposed Julia Gillard. The suits fell to their phones as texts and emails announced another prime ministerial knifing. The conference unravelled.

Our most recent experience in nation-building, the National Broadband Network, is not going well. Can we do better next time? For Angus Taylor, Liberal MP for the Southern Highlands seat of Hume and the federal assistant minister for cities, nation-building is somewhat personal. Taylor’s grandfather, the engineer William Hudson, was manager of the Snowy Mountains scheme for almost 20 years. Taylor knows its history intimately, and has no doubt Australia can still do nation-building, but he adds: “The Snowy wasn’t created from a grand master plan on day one, let me tell you, it evolved over time. It had to get some early successes – Guthega Dam was in fact its earliest success – to then move on from there. The idea that you can come up with a nation-building project on the back of a serviette, and then demand that it be done, is just crazy.”

Cheap shot or otherwise, Taylor has a similar critique of the former Labor government’s approach to high-speed rail: “When Albo did his $20 million business planning for the Brisbane–Sydney–Melbourne high-speed rail link, regional development or urban development or city building got a paragraph. It got a paragraph! In a $20 million project! … When there was an opportunity to think really hard about building great cities, it was just absolutely missed.”

Albanese hits right back at Taylor, who he says is all talk: “When he’s built something, anywhere, he can be critical.” While the PM likes to tweet pictures of himself on public transport or opening new railway lines, Albanese fumes that they were commissioned by Labor. “This is a government who haven’t laid a metre of new rail track, anywhere, but have been quite happy to attend openings of projects like Regional Rail Link [in Melbourne] and Moreton Bay rail line [in Brisbane] … and pretend that they had anything to do with it. They’re now in their second term, they still haven’t commenced a single passenger rail project anywhere in Australia.”

So the debate threatens to sink back into a tennis match. But with high-speed rail there is a glimmer of hope. Albanese is persisting with his private member’s bill to establish a high-speed rail authority, with representatives from state and local government, at least to protect the corridor once and for all. Thankfully it is not an especially high-profile bit of legislation – greater media attention does not seem to help with these things – and the politics are not especially hard. With a smidgin of goodwill, perhaps, one day soon, something like Albanese’s bill might pass parliament. Industry minister Greg Hunt returned from a November trip to China and Korea and declared “now is the moment” for high-speed rail in Australia, and the cabinet would be taking it forward.

John Alexander’s standing committee is preparing its final report, which at the time of writing is scheduled to be released before the end of 2016. Alexander is hopeful that the report will not gather dust, like so many others, and says the prime minister chose a standing committee of the lower house precisely because he was hoping for some bipartisanship. “We have to elevate ourselves above political debate,” says Alexander. His own back-of-the-envelope numbers are both more and less aggressive than CLARA’s: capturing $100,000 in value from the sale of 50,000 lots per year for a decade would be enough to fund a $50 billion railway, he says.

Albanese says value capture has become a sort of panacea for many in the Turnbull government, who think it means infrastructure can be built for free. What’s more, while he’s convinced of the merits of high-speed rail in Australia, he doesn’t believe that the development of eight entirely new cities along the Sydney–Melbourne line is feasible. “I don’t think a [high-speed rail] system in itself will create eight new cities. It will assist development of cities where they are now, including places like Albury-Wodonga and Canberra, dare I say it [but] the idea that eight cities will come from scratch is, I think, very ambitious.”

The closure of another country pub is not nothing. It is hard enough driving past them, boarded up, often right across the street from each other, grand old pubs with vast balconies that still sing of long hot raucous afternoons – not the odd drinker but hordes of them. “Since all those pubs have gone, there’s no meeting place,” says Gundagai administrator Christine Ferguson, a farmer and former federal president of the National Party, whose own theory is that pub closures in those tiny towns is a factor in the rising suicide rate in rural and regional Australia. “The blokes just sit at home and drink, and they get depressed … they just sit at home and worry.”

The continuing depopulation of inland Australia raises the question: have the settlers actually failed to make an attachment to this land? Australians crowd around the edges of the continent, hemmed in between a hotter, drier, angrier landmass and the rising seas, leaving FIFO workers and robots run by multinationals to mine and farm the interior.

It’s an admittedly bleak scenario.

Nick Cleary is much more upbeat. “The way to motivate yourself,” he says, “is to have something to aim for and to actually prove to your kids that things can be achieved and this nation is a great nation and it is a lucky country and there’s so much opportunity here.

“To me, there were some dark times. [But then] when we had a site selected for the airport, we went about optioning it and that dream in itself was an opportunity [and] would re-energise me … Now we’re looking at an opportunity over 35 years to make a difference to 2.8 million to 3 million people’s lives … What spurs me on is that you can have that sort of impact. And you can, but you’ve got to be bold enough to do it.”

PADDY MANNING

Paddy Manning is a contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly. He is a writer and journalist who has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including Boganaire: The rise and fall of Nathan Tinkler.

 

SOURCE:  https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2016/december/1480510800/paddy-manning/green-fields-and-blue-sky?fbclid=IwAR0C13N5UhXLMM4MW4fK8BEaRwMwb9TSc2gcxaG3qd_S3FBp3DlWWFPG_n0

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CANBERRA OPENS PUBLIC PURSE FOR PRIVATE HSR PLAN

 

A 2016 image from Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), the company planning a fast rail link between Melbourne and Sydney. It will be given millions of dollars in public money by the Turnbull government to write the business case for its first stage, to Shepparton.

A 2016 image from Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), the company planning a fast rail link between Melbourne and Sydney. It will be given millions of dollars in public money by the Turnbull government to write the business case for its first stage, to Shepparton. CREDIT:CLARA

 

COMMUNITY ACTION ALLIANCE FOR NSW (CAAN) … MARCH 12 2018

 

Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) a private company in July 2016 launched a $200 billion plan to build a high-speed rail link between Melbourne and Sydney with eight stops and plans for new regional cities along the route.

-deals to secure almost half the private land needed for the project had already been struck

-the company is backed with funds from Australia and the United States

-and “Value Capture” ….

CLARA’s board includes representatives from the public and private sectors in the United States, as well as former Australian premiers Steve Bracks and Barry O’Farrell and former trade minister Andrew Robb.

Read more:

https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2016/07/robb-takes-fat-pension-into-plumb-banking-job/?fbclid=IwAR0j7fvkJULP0jSw_XTSt9vBQdXmn3xMKnMjwWMgpSyg3fOQYuTtbiRuk6c

 

DESPITE this the Turnbull Govt advances with the Western Sydney Airport proposal not satisfied with overdeveloping Sydney and Melbourne but to destroy our regions too!

 

Canberra opens public purse for private fast-rail project’s plan

 

By Clay Lucas

 

9 March 2018

 A consortium that said it would privately fund a fast rail line from Melbourne to Sydney will get a share of $20 million in public funding from the Turnbull government.

Consolidated Land and Rail Australia, or CLARA, is a private company that claims it can build two inland cities in Victoria and a further six in New South Wales that are linked by high-speed rail lines between Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

 

Their rail line would, CLARA’s plans say, be paid for by the company taking options to buy land in regional areas at a low price. The land would then be sold at a far higher price once a rail line was built nearby.

 

The “uplift” in land value would provide billions of dollars in profit, CLARA’s directors say.

The rail line’s first stage would travel from Melbourne to Shepparton – a trip that CLARA claimed could be done in 30 minutes. The company has never revealed where its central Melbourne station would be built.

The company has told the Turnbull government it can cut travel times from “approximately three hours”, though V/Line timetables show the fastest weekday service now is two and half hours.

 

Image

 

One of CLARA’s directors Nick Cleary is a former real estate agent from NSW’s Southern Highlands. When the project was launched in 2016, he said in a media release that “unlike other proposals for high-speed rail in the past, CLARA’s infrastructure can be paid for from the city development rather than from government coffers”.

Government coffers will be opened to CLARA though, along with two other groups in New South Wales and Queensland, to help them write a business case.

 

The federal government is considering three proposals to develop a high-speed train link between Melbourne and Sydney.

The federal government is considering three proposals to develop a high-speed train link between Melbourne and Sydney.CREDIT:GREG NEWINGTON

 

The federal government is considering three proposals to develop a high-speed train link between Melbourne and Sydney.CREDIT:GREG NEWINGTON

The funding has been granted under the Turnbull Government’s “$20 million Faster Rail Prospectus”, two federal ministers said in a joint press release issued on Friday.

“In the Faster Rail Prospectus, the Turnbull Government stated that we wanted to look at both ‘evolutionary’ and ‘revolutionary’ proposals,” said Paul Fletcher, Cities Minister, and Michael McCormack, Infrastructure Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, in their statement.

“The three proposals chosen for further development are at different points along this spectrum. One involves upgrades to existing track, another proposes entirely new track, and the third sees a mix. We have also ensured that three different transport corridors, in three different states, are being considered,” they said.

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Canberra granted CLARA funding for the new rail line’s business case without consulting the Victorian government.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan’s office was asked if the state government supported the project. “We’re focused on real projects, so the answer is no,” a spokeswoman replied.

The spokeswoman said the government was providing more regional train services to Shepparton, would soon begin upgrading the rail line from Shepparton, and was also ready to start  a “$1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival”.

“We are still waiting for the federal government to release the funds that will allow us to upgrade every regional passenger line in the state,” she said.

The fact sheet for the project released by the federal government said the CLARA proposal provided “an innovative and revolutionary model for building a high-speed rail link between Melbourne and Greater Shepparton that does not involve direct costs to government or taxpayers”.

Mr Fletcher’s office has been asked how much public money CLARA will be given as part of the $20 million round of funding and where the rail line will begin from in Melbourne. His spokeswoman said she would respond on Friday afternoon.

 

 

Clay Lucas

Clay Lucas is city editor for The Age. Clay has worked at The Age since 2005, covering state politics, urban affairs, transport, local government and workplace relations for The Age and Sunday Age.

 

SOURCE:  https://www.smh.com.au/national/canberra-opens-public-purse-for-private-fast-rail-project-s-plan-20180309-p4z3mr.html?fbclid=IwAR0cehXk0g2EVEefRVLmAQxNCI6PZdnE8drJM_i6ItmNjfxZTqXOC4yaUJk

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‘I am not going to wait’: Berejiklian denies high-speed rail is an election stunt

BUT it clearly is … that is the conclusion drawn on all news reports last night.

MEANWHILE Federal MP John Alexander has been beavering away with a Consortium, CLARA

Bennelong MP John Alexander Magic Bullet … 15 MILLION Mega City from Newcastle to Nowra

 JA’s solution, his magic bullet is to create a “Megacity” stretching from Newcastle to Nowra …  connected by HSR … 

Apart from his engagements with Huang and others it is now revealed he has been beavering away on a concept of a megacity of 15 million people

CLARA (HSR) was to connect major cities to airports.  Looks like it is now to serve a high-rise megacity …

The “LNP will not let go of their market of  Ultra High Wealth Visa Holders seeking permanent residency” … together with Planning Sinister Roberts a national plan to feck us up for 50 years and beyond!

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ALSO VIEW ON CAAN WEBSITE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ‘CLARA’ AND VALUE CAPTURE:

“GREENFIELDS AND BLUE SKY Is Nick Cleary’s ambitious CLARA project the answer to Australia’s fast rail question?”

And

“CANBERRA OPENS PUBLIC PURSE FOR PRIVATE HSR PLAN”

 

‘I am not going to wait’: Berejiklian denies high-speed rail is an election stunt

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has rebutted suggestions her promise to spend $4.6 million planning fast rail in NSW is an election stunt, saying her government could not afford to wait for the federal government before starting work on the scheme.

Ms Berejiklian said on Tuesday she would start “work” on a fast rail network in the next term of government after appointing a British rail expert to consider four potential high-speed routes between Sydney and regional centres.

But after years and thousands of pages of reports and studies into the viability of high-speed rail on Australia’s east coast, Ms Berejiklian rejected suggestions the pre-election announcement was aimed at marginal seats in the state’s regional areas.

Premier commits to faster rail for NSW

Play Video

00:57

Premier commits to faster rail for NSW

Work will start on a fast rail line from Sydney to a NSW regional centre in the next term of government under a promise made by Gladys Berejiklian.

 

“Far from it. This is a government getting on with what it does well,” she said.

 

The four routes the government will ask British rail expert Andrew McNaughton to consider for faster or high-speed rail are from  Sydney north to the Central Coast and Newcastle; west to Lithgow, Bathurst and Parkes; south to Wollongong and Nowra; and south west to Goulburn and Canberra.

 

In a further sign her government will seek to distance itself from its federal counterparts during the state election campaign, Ms Berejiklian said she could not wait for the federal government or other states to start work on high-speed rail.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constannce vow to start work on a fast rail network.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constannce vow to start work on a fast rail network.CREDIT:AAP

 

“We need to start the work now if we want to see fast rail in NSW. I am not going to wait for the other states and the federal government,” she said.

“This is the first time we are looking at this network within NSW.”

But transport experts say the enormous cost of faster rail or high-speed lines makes it unachievable without a national approach. A new line for high-speed trains from Sydney to Newcastle is estimated at upwards of $40 billion given much of it would have to in tunnels.

VIEW:  How fast could the proposed fast rail be? 

 

While the announcement was scant on detail, Ms Berejiklian said it could involve upgrading existing rail corridors, extending them, or build entirely new rail lines.

“I can give you this assurance: we will be starting in the next term of government. It might take us many years to get us to the network we want to build,” she said.

But NSW Labor leader Michael Daley said the state’s Liberals had struggled to build a light rail line between Sydney’s CBD and the south east yet “they want us to believe that they can do a fast rail network in the next term of government”.

“[It is] absolute pie in the sky stuff from a desperate government in panic mode,” he said.

The latest announcement comes five months after NSW Labor promised to commit funding for a study into reducing the four-hour train journey time on the existing rail line between Sydney and Canberra if it is elected to government at the election next March.

The Berejiklian government will direct $4.6 million from funds received from the sale of the Snowy Hydro scheme towards the initial planning for high speed rail.

Professor McNaughton, who has been involved in the United Kingdom’s High Speed 2 rail project costing nearly $100 billion, said NSW’s topography was not “exactly ideal for very high speed” rail, and it was important to remember that fast rail was expensive and “very fast rail is very expensive”.

“It’s not about speed, it’s about time. I am usually asked how fast is fast and the answer is as fast as necessary to … get the choices we want,” he said.

“If you make it the Concorde for the rich you’ve defeated the whole purpose of doing it. If this is not a system that everybody can use I wouldn’t be here.”

He will chair the state panel charged with delivering plans to the government by Christmas next year.

HSR INVESTIGATED TIME AND TIME AGAIN …

COMMUNITY ACTION ALLIANCE FOR NSW (CAAN) …

They have been trotting out HSR since the 80’s and have spent lots $’s investigating, time and time again.

 

This time it’s not Very Fast. Just plain old Fast. Very Fast is too expensive. Hence the “Utopia” take on this!

 

Did you catch the news items last night about “Capture” (Value Capture) for Inland Cities along the way to pay for it?  That is what John Alexander and his mates have been working on …

 

Cheap land they said … probably cheap because they will thieve it off farmers and other landholders …

 

Then up-zone for residential, and which-ever consortium of developers has a hand in it will make mega $’s.

 

Can you almost envision Transurban move into rail?

 

Did you see the so and so from the Committee for Sydney also spruiking?

PERHAPS if NSW INC had not wasted so much on compulsory acquisitions, toxic tunnels, stacks and toll roads, dinky Metro, the light fail and … we could have had faster rail – that which was investigated and a Report made back in 2013!

 

 

 

The government unveiled the plans at Sydney’s Central Station this morning. Picture: NSW Government

 

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FASTER RAIL on the agenda for state and federal election … but what lays behind this?

The Berejiklian Government prior to the March 2019 Election is expected to commit to a feasibility study for the best route for faster rail services to connect regional areas to Sydney

The LNP Coalition Government is expected to announce it will consider the feasibility of as many as four routes for HSR

MEANWHILE Bennelong MP John Alexander on 27 November offered a solution, his magic bullet to create a “Megacity” stretching from Newcastle to Nowra …  connected by HSR … 

Apart from his engagements with Huang and others it is now revealed he has been beavering away on a concept of a megacity of 15 million people between Newcastle and Nowra!

CLARA (HSR) was to connect major cities to airports.  Looks like it is now to serve a higher density megacity …

IT appears the “LNP will not let go of their market of  Ultra High Wealth Visa Holders seeking permanent residency” …

THIS also raises the question of “Land Amalgamation” in NSW with the Berejiklian government having introduced legislation for  land amalgamation to enable development of key growth sites … which appears to be the ‘legalised theft of people’s homes’ to enable more development through the Office of Strategic Lands

HSR can be funded and maintained by tourism; Austria with an 8 million population has one of the best Rail Transport Systems in the World!!

AUSTRALIA like NORWAY is an EXPORTING NATION (CHINA needs us) and we should maintain a small population so that our wealth is not diluted by high immigration growth with the expense of infrastructure etc to meet this contrived demand.

 

Faster rail services on the agenda for state and federal elections

 

 

The Berejiklian government is expected to commit to a feasibility study to identify the best route for faster rail services to connect regional areas to Sydney.

With the Liberal-National coalition entering campaign mode ahead of the state poll in March, the government is understood to be set to announce as early as this week that it will consider the feasibility of as many as four routes for high speed, or faster rail services.

Government warned: act now on high-speed rail

Play Video

01:21

Government warned: act now on high-speed rail

The most likely routes to be considered include Sydney-Canberra via the new $5 billion-plus airport at Badgerys Creek, and Sydney-Newcastle.

A commitment to a feasibility study will place the prospect of faster rail on Australia’s east coast on the agenda for both the federal and state elections next year.

 

Three business cases for faster rail on the country’s east coast – one of which will consider the viability of a line between Newcastle and Sydney – are also due to be completed early next year after the federal government set aside funding in March.

High-speed rail is set to return to the agenda during the NSW and federal election campaigns.
High-speed rail is set to return to the agenda during the NSW and federal election campaigns.CREDIT:AFR

 

Transport sources said the most viable route for a faster train line was Sydney-Goulburn-Canberra.

“But you can’t build it without federal funding,” one said.

The state government is already committed to new transport projects, such as a metro line from Sydney’s CBD to Parramatta and a second motorway tunnel under Sydney Harbour, whose combined cost will run into the tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.

A new line for a fast train from Sydney to Newcastle is likely to be prohibitively expensive because the terrain would require a significant length to run through tunnels.

In July, NSW Labor promised to commit funding for a study into reducing the four-hour train journey time between Sydney and Canberra if it is elected to government at the state election next March.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said several months ago during a trip to Japan that she would “love to see high-speed rail servicing” the state but noted that it would need to go beyond NSW and would require federal funding for it to become viable.

The Premier’s office declined to comment on Monday.

But NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, who holds the marginal seat of Monaro, said last month that part of the funds the state received from the sale of the Snowy Hydro scheme will go towards identifying a new rail corridor for a fast train line between Sydney and Canberra.

report by Infrastructure Australia last year said high-speed trains could be running between Canberra and Sydney within 15 years.

However, the country’s peak infrastructure body said governments needed to act quickly to buy land along any proposed rail corridor to avoid potential cost blowouts.

Federal Labor’s transport spokesman, Anthony Albanese, has long been a proponent of high-speed rail on Australia’s east coast. He has been pushing for a high-speed rail authority to be set up to oversee planning, a business case and the options for private sector investment.

A $20 million study commissioned by the Rudd government and completed in 2013 estimated the cost of a high-speed rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney at $114 billion.

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

 

EXPLAINER: WHAT IS ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR CITIES?

 

THE CONVERSATION:  EXPLAINER: WHAT IS ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR CITIES?

June 22, 2016

Transit value capture is used in Hong Kong. Flickr/Kin, CC BY

Authors

Nicole Gurran
Professor – Urban and Regional Planning, University of Sydney

Stewart Lawler
Lecturer in Property and Built Environment, University of Sydney

Disclosure statement

Nicole Gurran receives funding from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

Stewart Lawler does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners
University of Sydney

University of Sydney provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

Value capture secures some of the benefits delivered by public investment to offset the costs of provision.

The notion has been around in various forms for a while, but recently gained steam. Prime Minister’s Malcolm Turnbull’s Smart Cities Plan touts value capture as a way to better distribute “the costs and benefits in publicly funded infrastructure to facilitate a project that may not otherwise occur”.

But there’s a lot of confusion about what value capture actually means and how it might operate in Australia.

What is ‘value capture’?

Public investment in a new rail line or motorway can generate huge increases in surrounding land values. In part the increase derives from improved accessibility for existing residents and businesses. High windfalls also arise once land has been rezoned to capitalise on higher development opportunities generated by the new infrastructure.

Since public investments and decisions are intended to maximise community benefit, it seems unfair and inefficient that some private landowners profit immensely from the process while others gain little or may even be disadvantaged.

Value capture mechanisms seek to rectify this by clawing back at least some of the increased business revenue or land value. These funds are then allocated towards the initial costs of infrastructure provision. In the case of a planning change, land value uplift can also help ensure that affordable housing for low income groups is included in new development.

How does value capture work?

The PM’s Smart Cities Plan doesn’t offer much detail as to how a value capture model would operate in Australia. Several different approaches are used overseas, but their potential transferability is unclear.

Transit value capture is used in Hong Kong and Japan to fund railway lines and new town development. This is a project-based approach which packages investment in railway and housing development together. Commercial holdings along the railway line deliver an ongoing revenue stream as does long term investment in residential development. In Hong Kong, a significant program of public rental and subsidised home ownership has also been delivered as part of this model.

Project-based transit value depends on access to large swathes of low cost land (in Hong Kong the government retains land ownership, so the land component is essentially free). It also depends on ongoing residential and commercial investment along the new route over time, which in turn assumes buoyant economic growth. When the Japanese economy stagnated, the potential for railway operators to self-finance their projects did too.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is used widely in the US to finance new transit and urban renewal projects. The model draws on anticipated increases in business revenue or rents in areas where incremental value uplift will occur. A portion of the increase is captured via a special property tax which is then allocated to repay the debt.

Australian local governments can also introduce special purpose levies to fund specific items through property taxes or rates. The Gold Coast light rail project for instance, was partly financed via the council’s annual transport levy (now around $111). However, since the levy applies to all ratepayers, rather than confined to areas where direct value uplift occurred, this doesn’t represent value capture in the strict sense of the term.

Value capture through the planning process is another approach. Unlike development contributions, which in Australia are used to internalise the costs of servicing a particular project (like roads, carparks, or footpaths), so they aren’t borne by existing ratepayers, value capture focuses on the benefits (often called “betterment” or “planning gain”) accruing from public investment or planning decisions.

One way of capturing value created through public investment or planning is to levy the charge on the first property transaction (ie. land sale) following the change. Another is to add an additional levy to existing contributions paid by developers.

The NSW government’s foreshadowed “Special Infrastructure Contribution” for new residential development along the Parramatta Rd light rail corridor ($200 per metre of gross floor area) is a recent example.

While this amounts to around $20,000 an apartment (at most about 3% of current sales prices), industry lobby group the Urban Taskforce claim the levy will discourage development and hurt home buyers. That’s cheeky since house prices are set by the market – which in the case of a light rail corridor will rise by much more than 3%. Ultimately the Taskforce worries that value capture places “an unfair burden on particular sectors of society” by which they presumably mean landowners and developers.

What would need to happen to extend value capture models in Australia?
Besides the politics, a number of issues must be addressed if value capture is to be extended in Australia. First, calculating value uplift is complex. Often land prices rise well in anticipation of investment or a planning change, so robust framework for value capture should be in place well before such speculation might occur.

Second, value capture should not discourage development or make land acquisition more expensive. This means close attention to project viability when setting capture requirements. Third, robust mechanisms for collection through either the planning process, as an ongoing property tax, or when land is sold, are needed.

Finally, although the current conversation focuses on transport, over time there will be pressure to fund other socially beneficial infrastructure. Two obvious candidates are schools, which also improve land values, or affordable housing, which is often lost when land values rise.

However fuzzy current conversations about value capture may be, the Commonwealth’s new interest in cities and the need to support more affordable homes near public transport, is welcome. So too the recognition that public investment and policy changes in urban and regional areas generate enormous value, which can and should be shared more widely.

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SOURCE:   https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-value-capture-and-what-does-it-mean-for-cities-58776

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