I’ve been so looking forward to the Bullet Train for Australia Party. You just know you are onto a good thing with a party name like that. And you have to love a party that states right up front that they are ‘a not-for-profit single-issue political party. Our sole issue is getting a Bullet Train for Australia and the benefits that a proper rail service will bring to our cities, our regional centres and Australia.’
Really, what’s not to like?
Let’s have a look at their preferences.
First preference goes to Senator Online, followed by Building Australia. Sensible choices, given what they want to do. Next we have the Democrats, who seem to be getting a lot of love from small parties this time around, Stable Population, and Bank Reform. Looks like it’s the more moderate left and the more practical right parties who are getting preferenced here. Sadly, the first semi-major party they hit is Family First at 51-52 (straight after the Sex Party again – it’s astonishing how often they end up next to each other on a Group Voting Ticket). The DLP shows up at 57-58, and then they feed to Labor, Greens and the Coalition, with the Nationals before the Liberals for a change. The very bottom of the ticket is Rise Up Australia, with One Nation and the SEP just above it.
Moving to their website, they have a logo with a very shark-like looking bullet train, and another one of those changing banners. “Quicker, cheaper, faster travel options? We can make it happen” “100,000+ jobs created” “”Bullet train is 8 x more efficient than flying” Vote Bullet Train, then vote as you normally would”. They are also selling tickets for the Bullet Train’s maiden journey. Are you allowed to do that when it hasn’t been built or even planned yet? Oh, I see, they are donation tickets and collectors’ items. But do they get you a seat on the train?
The final banner shows where the train would go – from Newcastle to Melbourne in stage 1, extending up to Brisbane and across to Ballarat and Geelong in stage 2, and from Adelaide to Mackay in stage 3. Sorry, WA and Northern Territory – you are out of luck. There are quite a number of stop as regional areas, and there are city express services.
This is actually pretty interesting. They are anticipating that Sydney to Melbourne would take 2 hours 50 minutes. It’s an hour and ten by plane, if I recall correctly, but once you factor in the need to check in early and get out to the airport and wait for your baggage (perhaps not in that order), you would probably lose a good 2 1/2 hours out of your day. I wonder where the trains would go from, exactly? Surely not the CBD at those speeds?
Anyway, I’m sold. I want a bullet train now.
On the About the Party page, what they actually tell you about is high speed rail, and we learn that the speeds would be in excess of 200 – 250 kmh. Apparently, the Gillard government did a study of the benefits and viability of high speed rail along the east coast of Australia, and established that it would cost “less than a third of the billions of dollars spent maintaining degrading roads over the last 20 years.”
Of course, we’d probably still need to maintain those roads…
The Party FAQs tell us that we are doing this because:
We want a better Australia for our children. We are ordinary voters who are sick of hearing promises and empty talk, who want a boost to our local economies, and have a goal that will create thousands of jobs for Australians. We want Australia to have cutting edge transport that is green, efficient, and good for our families, community and planet. We also want a faster way to get out of town for a holiday!
This all sounds pretty good, but Bullet Train for Australia then does make the slightly disturbing comment that “We will explore any means necessary within an elected position to lobby for this critical piece of Australian infrastructure.”
Any means necessary. I’m fairly sure that this is supposed to tell us that they will work with whichever major parties are in government, but that wording does sound a trifle Macchiavellian.
Funding is to come from private, state and federal money, and once again, Bullet Train for Australia encourages all supporters to allocate their own preferences, and asks all members to have their say on where official preferences should go. I rather like that.
They have their fundraising train tickets again, which are quite a cute gimmick, but I do wonder whether their $50 Standard Adult Ticket Donation will be a reflection of how much tickets actually cost when the train is built. One would hope the train would work out cheaper than the plane, or it won’t get the level of use that would justify its existence.
There is no policy page, per se, but this is because their policy is pretty clearly stated all over the website. Another page provides us with five reasons we need High Speed Rail:
- A Bullet Train for Australia will create thousands of jobs for Australia
- A Bullet Train for Australia will provide a real and green alternate to flying or driving between our major cities
- A Bullet Train for Australia will boost the local economy and the nation as a whole
- A Bullet Train for Australia will help the federal government reduce CO2 by cutting transport emissions
- A Bullet Train for Australia will ensure Australia is at the cutting edge of green and efficient transport
Bullet Train for Australia also points out the clogged airways along the Sydney to Melbourne route.
Finally, they have a statement on other issues, which looks very much like the one from the Drug Reform Party, though not quite so well thought out:
Here at the Bullet Train party we are proudly focused on one (very big) single issue.
We don’t stray into discussions about other policy areas. It’s just not our bag.
They go on to explain that when speaking on behalf of the party, they have one goal, and that they will abstain from voting on anything that is not related to high speed rail, with matters of conscience considered on a case by case basis.
You can’t actually have that both ways. Either you are abstaining or you are voting your conscience. Pick one…
And that’s it! This is a very focused party which knows what it wants. There are a few uneasy moments – the sense that they state more or less outright that they will compromise on absolutely anything to get their train makes me a little nervous, but on the whole, I think Bullet Train for Australia is onto something.
And I had no idea before I read this website how much I wanted Australia to have a bullet train, so they clearly know how to sell a product!