A bridge to Kangaroo Island..
It would be an amazing project, and an amazing feat of engineering. It could certainly be done.
But not everything that can be done should be done. Would it be a good thing?
Firstly, by the time additional required infrastructure is installed on both sides, and provision made for safe passage of tankers and container ships under the bridge, the cost will be $12 billion, not $5 billion.
Secondly, Kangaroo Island certainly doesn’t need any more debacles like the airport. We were promised no cost to ratepayers, and more flights and more passengers. Ratepayers have been left with a $2 million debt, fewer flights and fewer passengers. But we’ve sold some paintings, so that’s nice..
So NO taxpayer or ratepayer funds, unless there is a genuine, independent business plan, as opposed to the in-house fairyland plan that was used to justify the expenditure of $22 million of taxpayer and ratepayer money on an airport. For fewer passengers. But some nice paintings.
Let’s say the bridge makes economic sense even with realistic costing and a rigorous business plan. Economic considerations are not the only considerations.
I have been amused, I have to say, by comments from a few of those who talk loudly about equity, diversity, open borders, inclusiveness, blah, blah, blah, saying this must not be allowed to happen because it would make it too easy for the riff-raff to get here. I’ll just go past that one…
Then there is this: “Nature’s island would be ruined! More people means more environmental destruction.” I can understand that concern, but it doesn’t hold up based on experience elsewhere. The more people who come to visit a place to admire and enjoy the environment, the more incentive there is, and the more money there is, to ensure local habitats, wildlife and scenery are preserved. More people coming to the Island would help to ensure the Island’s unique combination of wildlife and scenery are preserved for future generations, and for their own sake.
“Foxes and rabbits would get to the Island!” Well.. it’s a long walk across a long bridge, which would almost certainly be gated for tolls on one side, so that seems unlikely. Unless a bridge means people are going to start hiding those things and bringing them over over in their vehicles. Well, maybe. I guess. We’d certainly still need some biological restrictions and perhaps random checks.
“The crime rate would go up!” Yes, probably. That’s what happens when the population increases and there are more visitors. We would also have more police, and more available police and other emergency service workers. I think that one evens out.
“We’d need more accommodation, better services, better roads.” Absolutely. We need better roads and services now. One of the ongoing financial issues for KI Council is how to provide services over such a large area for such a small population. Increased population density means more efficiency and better services. Increased population and tourism means more government spending on infrastructure. This would mean most of the population would be both better off, and have access to better services.
There would be less reliance on ferries and planes to Adelaide, and no, or at least far fewer, issues with cheap and easy transport to the Island. This means greater convenience, and greater cost saving for both residents and visitors, even if, as seems inevitable, the bridge was partly funded by a toll.
Possibly, given better insfrastructure, services and accommodation, direct flights from cities other than Adelaide might then be feasible.
A bridge would transform the Island. Would that be a good thing? I would be happy, as long as environmental protections remain in place, and as long as Islanders are not saddled with another massive debt.