Beth Shelley, Northern Rivers Railway Action Group
The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group held a rally outside Thomas George’s office last Friday to protest against the State government’s refusal to reinstate the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line.
Instead the Liberals plan to rip up the railway tracks for a bike path and then the Northern Rivers will lose the train forever. The NRRAG group plans to hold a Community Forum to raise awareness of the need to save our tracks on November 22nd at 2pm at the Lismore Workers Club.
Beth Shelley, spokesperson for NRRAG, spoke at the rally and said, ‘In the past Thomas George passionately defended the need for a train for the Northern Rivers’.
In June 2006 an article from the Northern Star states that Thomas and Barry O’Farrell were informing the public of their plan to have a sixteen train a day commuter service that would cost 1.6 million a year. But since his party won government Thomas George has made a huge backflip in his support for the train.
The Liberal government commissioned the Transport study from the ARUP group who didn’t get any quotes from accredited companies in railway repairs and maintenance.
They overestimated the costs of reinstatement of the railway line to $953 million which is a bit more than 1.6 million.
Apparently the ARUP group are being taken to court at the moment for overestimating figures in the Brislink project (SMH 2/8/14).
We want to remind Thomas George of the importance of the train to our community. We believe the poor, elderly and those unable to drive are entitled to the same services as those in Sydney.
When Michael Costa closed our train he was heard to say ‘there’s too many unemployed people up there’. This makes it obvious he doesn’t understand that looking after the poor and most vulnerable in society is better for all of us.
Creating a caring and compassionate society leads to less crime, violence and suicide. It seems that Thomas George may have lost sight of this understanding as well.
This has been a safe seat for the Nationals for a very long time and yet we’ve lost our train, been threatened by CSG mining and lost many health, educational and community services to our area. How has Thomas George represented the needs of his local community to the current government?
There was $9 billion allocated to rail for Sydney in the 2014/15 budget but nothing for the Northern Rivers community. There’s billions being spent on highways for more cars, trucks and buses that daily increase the amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Tim Fischer in his book ‘Trains Unlimited’ states that 77% of the world’s carbon emissions are from transport. Road is 72% of that while rail is 1.6%. So having a train would not only give us good public transport but also save hugely on carbon emissions.
It’s rather obvious that the Liberal/National government doesn’t care about the risks of climate change or the transport needs of our community so we need to vote for representatives that do care.
We believe the government has lied to us about the cost of reinstating the train and we know they get donations from companies that make money out of roads, including fossil fuel companies. As we stood outside Thomas George’s office we chanted, ‘We want a train. We don’t want climate change’.
Train services remain important to the people of the Northern Rivers, come and show your support by attending the free event: Save Our Tracks Community Forum, guest speakers include Dr Mehreen Faruqi Greens MLC, Senator Lee Rhiannon, Byron Councillor Basil Cameron and many more at the Lismore Workers Club, Saturday 22 November, 2-5pm.