The first draft of the NSW Transport Masterplan is now two months overdue. Additionally, the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said at this week’s Community Cabinet in Bondi Junction that the light rail feasibility study has been completed and is being considered by the cabinet. Despite this, neither has been released to the public yet. In both cases there are rumours that the release of both is imminent. Channel Nine reports that the Transport Masterplan will be released next week (it’s the last few seconds of the video), while Councillor Geoff Stevenson, an ALP member of Randwick Council, says an announcement on light rail should happen soon (see below)
But why the delay? That hasn’t been explained anywhere, but my money is on the conflict between Transport for NSW and Infrastructure NSW. The former wants more public money spent on public transport, while the latter wants more of that money spent on roads. It’s the Northwest Rail Link (NWRL) vs the M4 East, two projects that won’t give you much change out of $10 billion. This conflict goes all the way up to the top, with Ms Berejiklian pushing for the NWRL, while both the Chairman and CEO of Infrastructure NSW, Nick Greiner and Paul Broad respectively, pushing for the M4 East as well as privatisations and additional tolls to fund it. At this point, it would appear that Ms Berejiklian has the Premier Barry O’Farrell’s approval, and word has it that Mr Broad is considering his future in Infrastructure NSW once its 20 year strategy is finalised in October.
Until this fight is concluded, it would appear the government would rather it occur behind closed doors, rather than out in the public arena. Therefore the public release of these transport plans has become collateral damage in the road vs rail debate.