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The Transports Minister's Regional Transport Advisory Group make up is far too narrow and lacking in expertise in the rail industry or academia and ignoring any grass roots community organisations.
The Rail Revival Alliance is concerned that that the process will be skewed by the representation of a few municipal council and "development committees" that have not been closely involved in the rail debate.
Rail Revival President, Noel Laidlaw said that these are the same group that will probably determine the direction of country passenger rail for the next thirty years.
The Ballarat member appointed to the committee, commented on ABC radio today, that they would be "parochial" in their decision and advocacy. This does not bode well for the composition and congruence of the committee and nor for the genuine representation of the needs of communities across Victoria advocating and lobbying for the return of their passenger rail services.
"That may well be good for their city, but it does not present promising procedural matters and outcomes being treated even handily with examining the needs of country rail right across the State." Mr. Laidlaw said. "When quizzed about the Geelong - Goldfields Rail link, the discussion turned to buses. This does not give a promising indication for the future of our submissions and the views of the community on this project."
"Of course these representatives will be taking a parochial approach, the municipalities from which they come from will be expecting their support for additional train services.
"If this committee takes the approach of simply representing their own patch, much of Victoria's transport needs will be forgotten or put to the bottom of the list. It will be a simple case of the projects that muster the greatest support on the committee, will be the highest ranked and those without representation will be down played or completely forgotten.
Victoria, has a number of world class schools in transport planning and again the Minister has turned her back on the expertise that they could offer, certainly in a much less parochial manner than the current team of municipal representatives. The Public Transport Users Association is not even represented on the committee which further places the legitimacy and integrity of the committee in doubt.
Of real concern, is the lack of any understanding of the Geelong - Goldfields Passenger Rail link and the overwhelming calls by local communities for the re-introduction of the Passenger Rail Service to Mildura. I would wonder about the Portland or Leongatha, Hamilton, Cobram, St Arnaud, Donald, Dunolly, Stawell, Dimboola, Nhill, Murtoa, Warracknabeal, Robinvale, Manangatang communities demanding the return of the passenger rail, which were ruthlessly and insensitively cancelled by Jeff Kennett, twenty years ago.
The Geelong - Goldfields Rail link was dismissed out of hand by the Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan before the election and we would hope that this sort of prejudicial attitude has not been transmitted and permeated the Minister's hand picked committee, Mr Laidlaw said.
The Rail Revival Alliance, calls upon the Transport Minister to broaden the membership of the committee to ensure a spirit of procedural fairness and independence. We call for the Minister to publicly endorse the legitimate expectation of the communities in their call for the re-introduction of the Geelong - Goldfields Passenger Rail link.
Public Relations Manager
Rail Revival Alliance
0439 961 646
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