7 C
Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Nats backtrack on rail promise

Latest News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Other News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Interview with Bob Vegas

The glorious Bob Downe is back with a brand new show: Viva Bob Vegas! at the Brunswick Picture House. He gave Seven the Downe low…

‘Seven and a bit’ stone

Stone & Wood are thrilled to announce the return of Festival of the Stone to their Byron-based Brewery, Saturday...

Doing it right

How do you know you’re doing hummus right? When the international visitors tell you it’s some of the best...

Water outage in Ballina this Thursday

Residents on Crane and Owen Streets in Ballina are advised of a planned water outage this Thursday May 13.

Cocaine bust in Byron Shire, 7 men arrested

Police say two separate investigations into the ongoing supply of cocaine in the Byron Bay area have led to charges against seven men.



Hans Lovejoy

State Nationals MP Don Page has distanced himself from previous election promises to reopen the Casino to Murwillumbah railway after the overdue regional rail study was finally released last week.

The report, entitled Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study, recommends that services remain suspended and ‘rail assets be maintained to a minimum standard only’.

It comes in at 130 pages, cost $2 million and is available at http://bit.ly/15Lo2Du.

The report was a major election commitment for local Ballina MP Page, who released a carefully worded media statement at the time saying, ‘the NSW government is committed to providing the right mix of transport services.’

He said last year on ABC radio (June 26, 2012) that he asked his government and minister to ‘broaden the terms of reference of the feasibility study to make it beyond any doubt that the benefits of rail services on the Murwillumbah to Casino line will be properly analysed by the project team’.

These included ‘environmental benefits’, ‘fewer people using cars’ and ‘less greenhouse gases’. There is little to no reference to those terms within the report.

Different election, different commitment

But back in 2007, all regional Nationals MPs were photographed wearing t-shirts with the words ‘Yes, you can have your trains back’. When asked about pre-election commitments to bring trains back in 2007, Mr Page told Echonetdaily, ‘Any commitment made prior to the 2007 election related to [the coalition] being elected to government in 2007, which didn’t happen. Prior to the 2011 election we committed to doing the feasibility study, which we have honoured.’

But Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) president Karin Kolbe said, ‘After running hard on the rail question for so many years, many electors did not pick up the subtle shift from “you can have a train” to “you can have a study”.’

As for questions regarding his assessment of the report, a commitment to light rail, or the lack of environmental provisions that he called for, Mr Page did not respond.

Meanwhile, transport minister Gladys Berejiklian, says that ‘The study recommends investigating improving bus services to provide more people with frequent, cost effective public transport to key destinations, rather than reinstating the rail line’.

Sustainability overlooked

Astoundingly, light rail transit was eliminated during preliminary assessment, and instead the study focused on heavy, or freight, rail. A Transport for NSW spokesperson told Echonetdaily light rail was not explored for a number of reasons. ‘We found light rail would not provide additional benefits to the rail shuttle option and is less effective over longer distances (greater than 20km).

‘A local Byron Bay shuttle was considered; however, we found regular bus services between Sunrise Beach, Byron and Suffolk Park would provide a better and more flexible public transport service.’

Despite the spokesperson claiming that ‘All options considered by the study were subject to a sustainability assessment’, there is only one small reference to sustainability. Under ‘Rating Against Sustainability’ the report claims returning the XPT extension to Murwillumbah is ‘expected to have a minor positive sustainability impact’. And for a Casino to Murwillumbah rail shuttle (light rail), it again claimed a ‘very minor shift [is] predicted from car to the more sustainable public transport mode.’

The word ‘sustainability’ appears only three times throughout the document. Similarly, the words ‘climate change’ are absent. And even in its terms of reference on page 100, it claims incorrectly that ‘The study represents a broadening of the previously announced engineering and cost evaluation to include consideration of economic, social and environmental benefits’.

Regardless of the report’s failure to address rail’s environmental benefits, it provides an insight into future growth projections for the region. It claims, ‘Future growth in the region will occur in the Tweed region, extending southwards along the coast to Ballina. Lismore, Tweed and Ballina are the defined long term major regional centres.’

Also, ‘The population of the northern rivers is estimated to grow to around 367,000 in 2031 with an increase in housing units from 129,000 to 161,000 (Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2012). The majority of growth will be experienced in the coastal corridor in the area between Ballina and Byron, and in particular along the Tweed coast and in Tweed Heads.’


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Juliar Gillard is called a liar for changing her election committment on the carbon tax, in a hung parliament.

    The LNP promises a moratorium on CSG and reneges, Casino to Murwillumbah railway and reneges, not to privatise electricity and reneges……. haven’t heard anyone call them liars.

  2. Come on Ken the Conservatives have Core and Non Core policies before an election and only after an election do we know which was non core.
    It is only Labor that makes promises and when conditions change Labor is not allowed to change their policies and are called to account as a liers by those who are born to lead. Worse is those that vote conservative just know that their MPs will only change their minds for a good reason and accept the lie, sorry accept the change and forgive them.

  3. No one can name anything the Nationalcorp party has ever planed funded and built, ever, anything, try as hard as you can. I asked the Tweed candidate he could not name anything only Labor party infrastructure projects. But what is truly incredible is the 4% of Australians that are totally deluded and stupid enough to consistently vote for the Nationalcorp, in the “poor white trash” electorates. The poorest most neglected electorates in the country, look at the schools the roads the hospitals, the worst of the worst consistently, every National party electorate!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Filming of Byron Baes begins with no indigenous consultation

Filming of the Netflix series Byron Baes has reportedly commenced without any effort made by the show's production company – Eureka Productions – to consult with local indigenous groups or the local Council.

Byron Comedy Festival launched with a laugh

At a hilarious sold-out launch of the Byron Comedy Festival, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki had the entire Byron Bay Surf Club giggling last night

School Strike for Climate next Friday

Next Friday from 10am Byron Shire students will be demanding political action on the climate emergency in what they and their supporters say is our present, future and reality.