Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Congestion pricing again & again

The Victorian Government have again acted to close off debate on the possibilities for road pricing in Melbourne. I understand that most politicians are spineless but allowing the debate to develop on this issue while remaining nominally separate from it would not have hurt these politicians much. I presented my views on these issues with Professor David Hensher from the University of Sydney on the PM radio show yesterday.

We lack real leadership in Australian politics. While our major agricultural region, the Murray Darling Basin, is facing the prospect of significant longer-term destruction and our cities are becoming congested, unpleasant places to live politicians offer us FuelWatch and token apologies to aboriginals as priority policies.

4 comments:

derrida derider said...

As I get older I think more and more that we get the government we deserve; a thought that is not very flattering to my fellow Australians. We will only vote for people who tell us what we want to hear - that we can have our cake and eat it too.

Of course, we're not as bad as the Yanks in that respect yet.

conrad said...

I wouldn't be so pessimistic DD, as we've got older, we've also become more prosperous and lived through what might be considered extremely easy times. It's easy for governments to give people everything in these situations.

Alternatively, when recessions come (which I assume is relatively soon), you simply can't promise everything anymore. Thus, despite all the bad things that they cause, they do tend to at least partially solve the give-you-everything problem.

John said...

Have we always lacked real leadership Harry? Serious question, I just wonder if this is a post 1970's phenomenon or has it always been so.

I wanted Rudd in power, mainly because Howard had to go. Now I am rather angry with Rudd. He doesn't think like a leader but like a bureaucrat. It is impossible for him to think like a leader because he has spent his whole life following significant others. At present that is Blair's "Third Way".

Following polls is the antithesis of leadership. Leaders persuade people to the correctness of their leadership, either by rhetoric and preferably by practical outcomes. Rudd is incapable of this but I suspect many politicians are incapable of this.

Of course there is a catch in my whining. In an open economy, in the globalisation model, governments are strongly constrained in their policy choices. Apparently, so some say, governments are largely hopeless and should be kept on a very tight leash. That presents a paradox: if we want government to be small and non-intrusive what right do we have to complain when governments are supposed to mind their own business?

Spiros said...

They haven't closed off debate completely. They've just said no tolls on existing roads.

But what is an existing road? As soon as you make an improvement to a road, it's a new road. Connect an existing road to a new road, and it's a new network. The Tullamarine freeway was an existing road that got priced once it got connected to city link.

But it's a delicate issue and if the government is considering putting on congestion prices it's going to want to manage the process carefully and certainly not by reacting to documents that have been leaked to the opposition.