“Land Bridges are Tunnels” – Liberal commentator

On the ABC TV election special last Saturday night a Liberal commentator when first referring to results from Coffs Harbour acknowledged that the bypass issue was important but then went on to say that local voters didn’t realise that they were already going to get tunnels because ‘land bridges are tunnels’.

By the Editor

About 10 days before the State election COB, a wise commentator who appears often here at Outlook, said to me; ‘You watch the next thing that will happen with the bypass debate is that they will play semantics with words.  They will say tunnels have a roof.  So do land bridges have a roof. So ipso facto land bridges are tunnels.’

How prescient, as always, COB.

Yes, on Saturday night on the ABC’s election coverage that is exactly what was argued by a Liberal Party commentator when discussing election results from Coffs Harbor and the issue of the bypass.

Yet the National Party in Coffs Harbour ran hard on saying only they could deliver a bypass with tunnels. 

More than just a few of their voters would have voted for them because of that promise.  In fact that promise may even have been crucial locally.

Clearly National Party research showed it was an issue to be neutralised and addressed in the Coffs Harbour electorate. Otherwise signs like the one below would not have occurred.

Tunnels were promised. Proper tunnels will be expected.

In an election that was strangely status quo in many ways, even though the National Party was forced to preferences in Coffs Harbor for the first time in ages, one notable feature was the swing against the National Party. Especially west of the Great Divide. Water issues and the Murray Darling no doubt had a lot to do with that. 

But another reason more broadly undoubtedly is that the National Party is seen to have deserted its base over the past six years in particular. Mining and other special donor interests are seen to have taken priority over farmers and regional communities. Many of whom are now their former voters.

So before summarising what successful National Party candidate Gurmesh Singh needs to do over the next four years let’s just consider some definitions first;

A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands. (Wikipedia, 2019)

This is a land bridge. It is not a tunnel.

A tunnel is an underground passageway, often bored through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline is not a tunnel, though some recent tunnels have used immersed tube construction techniques rather than traditional tunnel boring methods. (Wikipedia, 2019).

This is what a road tunnel looks like. This one is in Germany.

And guess what?  It’s the latter people in Coffs Harbour want. Largely because of noise and aesthetic reasons.

So, to Gurmesh Singh, warmest congratulations on your win last Saturday. 

Now the hard work starts.  If you want to differentiate yourself then fighting for and succeeding in enforcing your promises is going to be crucial. 

The bypass will be one of your biggest tests.  Voters are saying they don’t want the National Party to be a mere appendage to the Liberal Party. 

Here is an issue for you to differentiate yourself early on. Do what you told the Coffs Action Bypass Group’s election forum and fight for real road tunnels.

Prove that Liberal Party commentator wrong and that semantic arguments such as theirs wont ‘cut it’.

On the other hand taking note of your former Federal leader’, Barnaby Joyce, and his latest suggestion  might be more problematic.  See: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/barnaby-joyce-says-nationals-must-shift-to-the-right-to-counter-shooters-threat-20190325-p517go.html

4 thoughts on ““Land Bridges are Tunnels” – Liberal commentator

  1. The ‘ol engineering term for a short tunnel has raised it’s ugly self again. Gurmesh might have his work cut out delivering tunnels a lower gradeline, and a quieter and more asthetically pleasing bypass, but deliver it he must otherwise even the bulk of his supporters will turn on him. Many pointed out those very signs to me as evidence Gurmesh and the other bloke… (there were a number of snide remakes made about the other bloke appearing on so much election material by the way)
    The Liberal commentator probably isn’t aware he’d just highlighted for everyone’s attention focus back onto the noise maps published here last week, because they were for the cuttings, land bridge Bypass. Those maps show clearly hundreds of homes, Bishop Druitt, the Masonic Retirement Home will all be impacted negatively as the Bypass loops around West Coffs,
    The NATS would’ve gotten a bit of a scare in Coffs so don’t expect any bypass announcements before the Federal Election because they wouldn’t want anything to upset the apple cart, after that though it’s eyes wide open folks!

  2. Regardless of “tunnels” or “tunnels” this so called bypass will be the end game for what in my mind is one of the most picturesque pieces of coast between Brooklyn and Byron Bay. We are already viewed by many from outside the area as the “western suburbs” of the north coast.

    Following on from the decision to down grade the northern villages of Coffs by building the existing section of the “bypass”, this current bright idea is an incursion into the landscape and liveability of Coffs Harbour which there will be no coming back from.

    There is another option ehich would address the issue local traffic flows as well as maintain our beautiful green cradle. With $1.65 billion on this project it is more than feasible to give it consideration.

    The hijacking of this election to serve the campaign of one side of the political divide was a travesty. So many valuable discussions not had.

    1. Totally agree with Ann – tunnels help but ultimately building a ring road will be catastrophic for everyone in Coffs Harbour. It is heart breaking for those of us who cherish this extraordinary and unique place to contemplate it’s destruction. That most residents are insufficiently engaged to realise the pending doom is simply depressing and conversely it is infuriating that tax funded decision makers are so disconnected from and contemptuous of the infrastructure design principles that guide their work and ultimately underpin our quality of life and future.
      At the very least, the cost, not of building the cheapest highway possible, but of sabotaging the economic growth to what could potentially be the most important and exclusive regional town in NSW is insanity not just for our region but the state. NSW needs prosperous and appealing regional centres that attract businesses, entrepreneurs, sea/tree changers and visitors. A ring road echoing through Coffs Harbour spewing pollution into our homes, farms, waterways and bushland will sign our fate as a toilet stop on the way to somewhere else – just ask those in proximity of the existing highway. At 110km speeds, the new highway will be much worse. And that’s not even acknowledging 5 years of construction works that will reverberate throughout the town – how many never-to-return tourists will we lose as a result and how many residents will move on because they cannot find peace and health in their daily lives…this is an intolerable travesty but with federal elections approaching there is still hope…

    2. Ann, Why the reluctance to be specific about what your superior option involves? Lots of people reckon there are better ways, but when pressed, nobody seems to want to share them. A cynic might suggest that the secret alternatives might not actually be all that superior when the cards are laid on the table.

      Where would you build it? What is the maximum elevation of your preferred route? What are the gradients required to reach that elevation? How do those compare to the tunnel option currently on the table? Does your preferred route involve large cuttings, or cut through any National Parks? What rural areas would be sacrificed to your alternative? What residential areas would it pass? What would it cost, and how rigorous are the costings?

      It might be that you have great answers to all these questions, but if a better alternative exists, this is the last possible chance to bring it to light, not a time to be coy about what it actually is.

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