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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Autonomous vehicles – driverless or rudderless?

With the recent on-road demonstrations of driverless vehicles in the United States and Australia the prospect of more widespread use of such autonomous operations appears to have moved closer. However there remain questions of safety and technical issues to resolve. In fact, there have been various autonomous vehicle demonstrations and challenges over the past decade, so the technology appears to be maturing into deliverable systems. Still, there are concerns around their integration into the existing vehicle transport networks and for community acceptance. There will also be a need for revised legislation, as it is illegal in Australia for a car to drive without human control. The South Aus... Read more...

You work where? Where Australians Lived and Worked, 2006 and 2011

The Parliamentary Library has constructed two maps using Census data to illustrate the journeys Australians took to travel to work in 2006 and 2011.    Click for larger images.   About the data The lines on the above maps represent the net journeys between regions. The net journey is the difference between the number of people travelling to and from two regions. For example, if five people travelled from region B to region A and three people travelled from region A to region B, the net number of journeys to from region B to region A is two. No indication of direction of travel is given in these maps. A line’s thickness is representative of the net number of people trave... Read more...

Changing motor vehicle and fuel standards

Motor vehicle specifications in Australia are being reviewed, and a private senator’s bill about improving fuel emissions has  been tabled.. These developments raise the question of the vehicle standards used in Australia. Can we do better? Can we also make our fuel go further? Read more...

Is Adelaide Airport's Curfew carefree?

Residents in South Australia’s capital do not like to be disturbed by the early arrival of jet airliners, at least judging by the introduction of a recent private member’s bill by one of their Senators. On 12 February 2014, Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright introduced the Adelaide Airport Curfew Amendment (Protecting Residents’ Amenity) Bill 2014 to prevent international flights landing between 5 and 6 a.m. This is in response to an announcement by the federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development in late 2013 that he had given approval to a schedule of four early morning Cathay Pacific flight arrivals from Hong Kong, starting in April 2014. The flights... Read more...

High Speed Rail for Australia - a fast track to the future or just the same old pipe dream?

High Speed Rail (HSR) has been talked about for many years in Australia but has never progressed beyond the study and report stage. However, on 9 December 2013, the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, introduced a private member’s bill — the High Speed Rail Planning Authority Bill 2013. The Bill proposes setting up a High Speed Rail Planning Authority which, as the second reading speech notes, is designed to provide critical ‘long-term Commonwealth leadership to progress the project’ and to ‘maintain the momentum generated by the recent strategic studies’. The other objective of the Bill is to secure the rail corridor, which... Read more...

Of Airports and High Speed Trains

The discussion of a High Speed Train (HST) along the east coast of Australia has rumbled on for decades. But now it's running into the Sydney airport issue. The government has recently released a study into the feasibility of a HST system and is completing another report about a location for a second Sydney Airport (SSA). The Australian Greens argued in late 2012 that a new report, commissioned by Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt, outlined a strong economic case for High Speed Rail (HSR) and removed the need to build a second airport for Sydney. The study also concluded that $48 billion in benefits would accrue from a HSR network along the East Coast from Melbourne, to Canberra, Sydney and B... Read more...

Motorways for the masses

With the approach of a Federal Election, ambitious metropolitan road projects are in the spotlight. Both major parties are offering federal funding to address worsening urban congestion issues as Australia’s cities continue to grow. The Liberal National Party coalition has promised to support the construction/upgrade of three metropolitan limited access roads to connect to existing motorways in our largest cities. And the Prime Minister has announced further funding support for the WestConnex project in Sydney, contingent upon it providing better freight links to Port Botany and a toll-free M4 connection with the city. Following on from previous commitments, the 2013 LNP policy ‘Our Plan – R... Read more...

A Titanic Task: Reviewing Maritime Safety

In this 100th remembrance year of the infamous sinking of the passenger ocean liner RMS Titanic comes a review of Australia’s century-old maritime safety legislation, the Navigation Act 1912. Also proposed now is the creation of a new national, sea safety regulator, an important agency considering the recent local ship losses which remind us of the continuing importance of safe operations at sea. The loss of the cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Italian coast, while carrying Australian passengers who were fortunately saved, serves to highlight these issues.Review of the Navigation Act 1912The Navigation Act 1912 is Australia’s primary legislation that regulates ship and seafarer safety, sh... Read more...

National Ports Strategy and planning

On 7 January 2011, the Government released its new National Ports Strategy. The strategy proposes to clear freight bottlenecks and ensure urban development does not stall the ability to expand port facilities, through the implementation of planning buffer zones around ports along with streamlined environmental approval processes.Infrastructure Australia and the National Transport Commission released a draft of a Proposed National Ports Strategy on 6 May 2010. The work was undertaken in response to a 2009 directive from the then Prime Minister to provide a strategy for consideration by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).Next month's meeting of COAG will study the strategy’s 42 propo... Read more...

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