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FED-UP southern suburbs residents have attacked State Government plans to extend the tramline to North Tce - demanding their train service and other "inadequate" public transport be improved first.
Community resentment at transport and infrastructure failings in the region was the dominant issue among a range of concerns raised at a Sunday Mail Community Forum attended by about 150 people at Noarlunga on Tuesday night.
Several speakers said they felt "abandoned" or "isolated".
"We need more transport services in the south – it's that simple," Morphett Vale resident Paul Hancock, 55, said.
"Right now everything doesn't seem to connect up. It is very hard to get from one place to another via public transport.
"It makes you feel like you are sort of abandoned."
Mike Bennett, of Hackham West, agreed, saying the train line needed to be extended to Seaford.
"Bringing the line down to Seaford would greatly benefit the whole area," he said.
"It is so hard to get around at the moment and the train would solve a lot of those problems."
To applause he added: "Don't spend it on that little tram extension – use the money for the railway instead."
The forum, moderated by senior reporter Kevin Naughton at Noarlunga College Theatre, was the second in a highly successful series organised by the Sunday Mail.
Panel members were new MP for Mawson Leon Bignell, Opposition infrastructure spokesman Martin Hamilton-Smith, Federal Liberal MP for Kingston Kym Richardson, police Local Service Area Commander for the South Coast Superintendent Michael Cornish, Christies Beach High School principal Paul Wilson, and City of Onkaparinga deputy mayor Trevor Fletcher.
Mr Bignell defended the Government's plan to extend the tramline by 1km along King William St at a cost of $21 million.
"This tram isn't just for the city, it's for the residents in Glenelg, Adelaide, North Adelaide and surrounding suburbs," he said, over calls of anger from the crowd.
"The tram isn't our only focus; we are doing feasibility studies to determine if we can continue a train line further down south."
After the forum, Mr Hamilton-Smith said he would pressure the Government into spending the allocated tram money elsewhere.
"The opinion of the people was fairly obvious – they want better infrastructure," he said.
"Transport services, like trains and buses, is one of those infrastructure issues I will be questioning the Government about."
Youth crime – in particular graffiti – also featured prominently at the forum, with some residents calling for harsher penalties.
"We should give those caught a no-tolerance policy," 53-year-old Huntfield Heights resident Derek Mikolaj said. "If they get caught graffitiing they should get six months straight out.
"Being tough on the hoon drivers by taking their cars away has worked, so we should do the same for the vandals.
"We only have to make an example out of a few and the rest will get the message and stop."
Mr Bignell and Mr Richardson, a former police officer, agreed with Mr Mikolaj, saying the penalties should be tougher.
"Maybe it is time for the laws to be made stronger in order to punish those offenders who are caught, because we need to start winning the war," Mr Richardson said.
While unable to discuss penalties, Supt Cornish said police were doing a good job in combating vandalism.
"We are working very well with the council to prevent graffiti vandalism and we are making breakthroughs," he said.
"But we need the community's support to help us fight crime. We need them to report incidents."
Mr Wilson said harsher penalties for youths would only be a Band-Aid solution.
"Throwing them in jail will not solve anything. We should actually be supporting them instead," he said.
Other matters raised included health services, job opportunities and services in new developments.
Sunday Mail (Adelaide)
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