Warragamba plan commendable
The government's proposal to raise Sydney's Warragamba dam has been welcomed by the Insurance Council of Australia says spokesperson Campbell Fuller.PT0M0S 620 349
If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, on what substrate is the long path to the federal election based? Great ideas? Thought bubbles?
Grand infrastructure projects previously deemed worthy but unaffordable are perfect candidates for a fiscally-starved election environment where the game is reduced to seeking credit for the announcement rather than actually delivering on the policy.
Thought bubbles, it seems, are the order of this extended campaign.
''Apparent'' commitments have significant dollars attached. But there's the trap.
New money mostly comes as seed funding, lumbering future governments or cash-strapped state and local authorities with finding the lion's share.
The most recent example is the federal government's $100 million fund (over two years) to undertake major flood mitigation works in Queensland and NSW - the bulk of it in western Sydney.
But what at first blush seems totally sound rings hollow on closer inspection.
The estimated cost of extending the height of Warragamba dam is between $500 million and $1 billion.
The long-term benefits may be great but the outlay has been too much for governments past, even during bountiful times - which these are not.
Ms Gillard's pledged $50 million from the fund is so far short of the building cost as to suggest the project will remain where it has languished for a long while - on the drawing board.
Underscoring the haste and political expediency behind the announcement is the fact that the NSW government was already scoping out the project but had not been consulted before Thursday's announcement.
The idea follows just weeks after Tony Abbott's own dam-dreaming replete with an oft-dismissed ambition to transform the north of Australia into a lush food-bowl for Asia. Thought bubbles, it seems, are the order of this extended campaign.