In the Sydney Morning Herald today, I wonder out loud if Australian cities can move forward on public transport given the lack of a mechanism for local initiatives or referenda. Based on our work last year on Sydney's Independent Public Inquiry, I compare Sydney's stasis with the aggressive building program in Los Angeles, and note that for better or worse, California's tradition of direct popular votes on spending plans makes it possible to lock those plans in for decades, providing the security that the private sector needs to do its part. In Australia, where spending on big infrastructure happens through regular state budgets, nobody can make a commitment beyond the next election cycle, and nobody dares ask the public for a major new funding source. So the Australian debate always seems to be about which one or two projects will be built in the current generation, and which will be left for our grandchildren to build. My article is here.