June 4th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Schapelle Corby and Australia's drugs problem

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Alexander Downer - a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack?

ENERGY AND PRIMARY INDUSTRY: Day of biofuels has arrived

SCHOOLS: Teaching values and building character

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Behind the branch-stacking allegations

IN VITRO FERTILISATION: The games bureaucrats play (at our expense)

SOCIETY: Too many abortions, according to survey

CIVILIZATION: Christian foundations of the rule of law

DEVELOPMENT: Micro-credit - an antidote to poverty and political extremism

CHINA-TAIWAN: China double-crosses Taiwan over WHO

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Fools rush in / Shonky lending practices / Pinning the tail on the donkey / Vietnam: decadence now / Mother, I never knew you

Ho Chi Minh: the man and the myth (letter)

Electronic referenda (letter)

Bali and the Indonesian tsunami victims (letter)

Brisbane-Melbourne trunk rail route (letter)

Second thoughts on Labor Split conference (letter)

CINEMA: Finale in the bunker - The Downfall

Malice In Media Land, by David Flint

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Brisbane-Melbourne trunk rail route (letter)

by Kevin O'Neill

News Weekly, June 4, 2005

The most productive freight and passenger rail route between Brisbane and Melbourne would be roughly parallel to the Newell Highway, except for a crossing of the Pilliga, north-west of the Warrumbungles.

It would provide access to Sydney via Parkes from the north and Narrandera from the south and to Adelaide to the south-west.

For the first time, the cities and towns of western NSW and northern Victoria would have the benefit of a trunk rail service.

At present, these cities and towns are located on what is by definition a series of branch lines that radiate out from the capital cities with little or no relationship with other centres of population and export opportunities for their products or for social cohesion.

Important inland cities and towns, such as Goondiwindi, Moree, Dubbo, Griffith, Narrandera, Leeton, Forbes, Shepparton, etc, are located on branch lines linked to state capitals without appropriate links with sister rural cities or towns.

Because of its strategic location Parkes is a rare exception.

Motor trucks and buses on the Newell Highway have already pioneered the least cost path for interstate passenger and freight.

To be competitive, the Brisbane-Melbourne transit time must be about 20 hours and carry double-stack containers.

The flat Australian plains are the best railway country in the world. We should have the best low-cost railways in the world.

Privatisation has opened new opportunities for rail. Good, well-run railways don't cost; they pay.

Local government bodies along the Newell Highway have a role in promoting the benefits of the proposed trunk rail route just as they had in promoting the Newell Highway for trucks and passenger vehicles.

Kevin O'Neill,
Progressive Rail Association,
Tocumwal, NSW

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