Planning to fail

The tragic failure by Labor administrations in Queensland to adequately plan for future growth is frustratingly clear to the hundreds of thousands of us who struggle to get anywhere in a reasonable timeframe each and every day. Even weekend roads are just as clogged. This is not just a phenomenon afflicting the south-east corner nor can the blame be laid at the feet of the motor car.

With two decades in office (effectively) Labor has no-one else to blame for the inadequacies of public transport. It is a disaster starting to rival the Labor party’s appalling record in Sydney. The one Labor visionary who can hold his head high is former Brisbane Lord Mayor, Jim Soorley, who championed busways that have proven to be an outstanding element of infrastructure.

But incumbent Premier, Anna Bligh, has no such vision. Her current growth management summit is smoke and mirrors with no sensible answers. Take the extraordinary policy initiative she unveiled with fanfare: create Townsville as a mini-capital and feed some of Brisbane’s growth into it. In the absence of any detailed proposal for how that might be achieved, the typical Labor addiction to spin becomes apparent as locals in the north will furiously debate for months whether Cairns or Townsville is or should be pre-eminent. But nothing will happen. Thanks, Anna, for nothing.

And now we have another admission of failure from Premier Bligh. Not an apology, mind you, just a brazen acknowledgement that all has gone wrong. Bligh says the South East Queensland Regional Plan has failed to tackle the population growth problem. Well, that’s hardly earth-shattering news to those of us having our cherished dreams of a great lifestyle slowly strangled by relentless congestion. We who do not enjoy fully-subsidised, chauffeur-driven limousines to get us from here to there not only can’t do so quickly but we keep getting slugged heavier imposts as Labor gouges ever-more dollars from us to belatedly try to fix the mess.

The most frustrating aspect of Bligh’s admission is that the SEQ Regional Plan was a typical jack-booted Labor folly straight out of its socialist central planning roots. Labor decreed that the state government had all the answers and local councils should just roll over and get out of the way. It reinforced its Big Brother bullying by amalgamating councils to create efficiencies. Well, the new councils say they are crippled by an inadequate funding base, efficiencies have not occurred, morale has been shattered and confusion reigns supreme. Thanks, Anna, for nothing.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and Bligh has been forced to admit that it takes two years longer to bring land to market than it does in Victoria. And this despite all the purported improvements that would accompany the regional plan and the additional ones from council amalgamations. Thanks, Anna, for nothing.

Her big picture ‘solution’? Fifteen-minute neighbourhoods where everything we want to live, work and play is available within fifteen minutes’ walking. But before you swallow that hefty helping of even more Labor spin just think about it for a moment. The whole premise is based on the demise of the car which has never proven viable anywhere in Australia, certainly on a large scale. It would necessitate a momentous reorganisation of facilities that proves unworkable even in new master-planned communities, let alone re-shaping the entire face of Brisbane (for example). If it weren’t so sad it could be a joke. Thanks, Anna, for nothing.

And while all this bread-and-circuses pantomime is playing out, Labor pushes ahead surreptitiously with its commitment to homogenise society by inserting ever more social housing into otherwise up-market enclaves and it strips the bush of infrastructure such as rail services, schools and government offices. Thanks, Anna, for nothing.

Just understand that the day of reckoning is coming and all the spin in the world will not save your administration.