Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's Action Man to the rescue?

I can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, but look how good I am at opening freeways!

It was commissioned long before John Brumby came to power, but the new EastLink tollway could be a mascot for his Government. It was far-reaching in its economic benefits, delivered with the private sector, finished five months before deadline and on budget. On Brumby's watch, dredging of the bay's shipping channels finally began. He drew a line under years of delay and environmental checking and backed the $1 billion project, holding his nerve against critics and protesters. Other decisive moves include speeding up the rezoning of land to cope with Melbourne's booming population, a forthcoming rewrite of the city's transport plan, free public transport for early morning commuters and a boosted train timetable.

Me, Action Man. You, thirsty voter.

It was Premier Steve Bracks who announced the $4.9 billion water plan, but the key supporter was Brumby. The two main projects - a $3.1 billion desalination plant and the $750 million north-south pipeline - will form his legacy as Premier. It's certainly an action-man response to the water crisis. It was sealed in a flash, probably too quickly for the Auditor-General, who said it lacked rigour, based on big engineering solutions instead of a more complex approach that could have included the widespread use of rain tanks, stormwater harvesting and recycled drinking water. With Water Minister sidekick Tim Holding, Brumby must now sell the projects, which are opposed by two loud protest movements. The dynamic duo are keeping their eyes on the prize: an extra 225 billion litres of water flowing into dwindling storages by 2011 and nullifying water scarcity as a 2010 election issue.

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