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Albanese launches attempt 4 to get parliament to accept his highspeed rail vision




IT’S one MP’s unrelenting dream and today he made clear he will not be put off by the $140 billion price tag attached or constant political rebuffs.

Nor is he daunted by the need to carve some 67km of tunnels through central Sydney.

The dream belongs to Labor front bencher Anthony Albanese and today for the fourth time in three years he went to Parliament to make it a reality.

Mr Albanese wants debate on and passage of his private members bill creating a High Speed Rail Authority.

This would be the first step towards planning rapid rail connects between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

We could have train travel from Sydney to Melbourne, and Sydney to Brisbane in under three hours, Mr Albanese, Labors transport spokesman, told reporters in Canberra.

That would make it better for the environment and better for the economy in terms of competing with air travel.

He has already proposed his legislation three times since Labor lost office in 2013, and every time the Coalition government has refused to bring it on for debate. He hopes attempt #4 will see success in this session of Parliament or the next.

And there is urgency on the matter.

But in order to make it a reality the planning needs to be got right now, the corridor needs to be preserved right now, he told reporters.

Why is he so keen? Mr Albanese genuinely believes economic benefits from high speed rail would create more jobs and economic benefit to a wider range of communities than $40 billion worth of submarines.

And he is reminded every day by aircraft noise over his inner-Sydney home turf of Grayndler that without a fast alternative there could be an increase in air traffic in and out of Mascot.

Mr Albanese told Parliament: A feasibility study conducted by the former Labor Government found the project was viable, returning, for example, $2.15 in economic benefit for every dollar invested on the Sydney to Melbourne section.

It is time to stop talking about High Speed Rail and to start working on the project.

That city corridor is becoming more expensive every year, and acquiring it is a big slice of the final bill.

As Mr Albanese has been telling fans of the project, You cant do it for free.

He means that even the value added to nearby real estate by the operation of the fast train link would not quickly cover costs.

In terms of costs I note there are some who say that value uplift can provide all the money for this project. Thats not the case, Mr Albanese told reporters.

You shouldnt pretend that thats the case because you wont get value uplift, for example, through Sydney. It will have to be through tunnelling.

And there will be some people who say they support high speed rail in abstract who will oppose the construction. Theres no doubt about that.

But that is why we have to have this debate. It is clearly in the national economic interest to have this debate.

Ato apologises for online tax glitches


YOU had one job, ATO.

It seems an entire year hasnt been enough for the Australian Taxation Office to prepare its online systems, which appear to have collapsed under the weight of traffic, leaving users unable to lodge their tax returns.

Many users who have been unable to access MyTax and MyGov since Wednesday turned to social media to express their frustration.

As of 10.30 AEST Thursday, both systems were experiencing difficulties, although a link to download the 2015 eTax program has now been updated after confusion yesterday.

A spokesman for the ATO toldi news.com.au: Weve been working through the night to resolve our systems issues and apologise for any inconvenience. Well be keeping the community updated through social media.

Ive been trying for two days to log into my account, which tells me my passwords are wrong, one person wrote.

Ive then tried several times to create a new account and I still cannot get into it. What is the point in creating this online portal when you cannot even access it? Get your stuff sorted its bloody frustrating!

Another wrote: I have started to lodge through eTax but it wont input/prefill data from my HECS and other things due to the ATO website being down, which will impact my outcome. Not sure it is worth my time to continue.

The ATO's Assistant Commissioner for Tax Time Karen Anstis reveals exactly what needs to be done to ensure you've got it right.