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Byron Shire
May 31, 2023

Wipe political donations to restore the train

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Byron has a major problem. No one I know ever goes there anymore from the local area because you have to wait half an hour to get down the Ewingsdale Rd into Byron.
You have to sit in smelly, polluting traffic as you slowly inch along the road and then you have to find parking. It’s just too much hassle when there are other great beaches around.
Byron is a tourist destination that depends on getting people into town for the tourist venues to make money. Also the people who work and live there need to be able to get in and out of town in a reasonable time frame.
An easy way to get people in and out of town is so staggeringly simple and it’s about having a train.
We used to be able to catch a train from Lismore or Bangalow down to Byron in the morning and have a lovely day at the beach and catch the train home in the arvo.
We could also catch it in the evening, have dinner, a dance and a couple of drinks and catch the train home.
It was wonderful but the last Labor government took it away and the current government ignores the needs of this community.
These governments don’t want to pay for the train because their election campaigns get too much money from road construction companies, trucking companies, oil companies etc.
There is so much money to be made out of roads that the community misses out on good public transport.
Get rid of political donations from big companies and we’d have a train up to Qld in a flash. It’s going to have to happen eventually as traffic congestion is only going to get worse.

Beth Shelley, Booerie Creek

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  1. Would you please advise the amounts, donors and recipients of the donations that you allege were made. Could also show in what way decision making process was influenced by donations when the service was suspended, or in what way the terms of reference, choice of consults or any other way the review of the rail service was influenced by the alleged donations. Allegations of influence like these are oft made and easy to make but unless they are true they mean nothing.

    • LOL @ Peter Hatfield
      It is not difficult at all to view political donations online. You can go to either http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/ or http://democracyforsale.net/search-aec/
      Companies such as Linfox; Road-builders Lend Lease, Abigroup, and Baulderstone; Toll Road investors John Holland and Macquarie Group, and several other road and oil mining companies were regular political donors at the time of the rail service closure. Over the years, road related companies have donated millions of dollars to LNP and ALP, and at the same time received road contracts worth billions.
      I thought you would know this since you used to work for the government. Maybe you still do?

      • I take your point Angie – yes you can track donations. But is it possible to show that policy has changed because of them? I am not saying it doesn’t happen but in my thirty years working in the Commonwealth governemnt for a long time and never saw the sort of influence suggested so often on these pages. Most policy is developed based on expert reporting, is refined through Committees and is as you suggest often bipartisan. I know at the State or Council level governments might be more susceptible to pressure, but I do not know that it is so different. In the case of transport a large amount is indeed spent on roads. But there is no need to look for road lobbyists and donations to explain why. Most people drive, most people now have there own car and most of them want ever better roads. It has made access to education, jobs and recreation a lot easier for people in the country, and has being doing so for a long time on the North Coast. In the the thirties for example, people chose a concrete road to Tweed Heads instead of the rail link, and my Aunt in her nineties writes of the excitement of driving their new Chev 6 from the dairy farm near Condong up to the glamorous beach centre of Coolangatta over 70 years ago. There is no need to invoke road or oil companies to explain the freedom cars gave to those that had them. Cars do though does generate large flow on costs, particularly in cities, but in terms of climate change, and they remains a problem even though cars are cleaner and a a lot safer now. And they do create d a degree of isolation for those who do not drive or choose not to drive, which cycles can only partly address. Now I know you would address these issues by rail and you know I disagree that is the best way to do it. But I do hope that you share my view that for the sake of the important groups of people who,even if they are not in the majority, do not drive – the young, poor, elderly, those that do not want to use a car to reach airports or other transport nodes, those who do not care to use a car for longer trips or when it is congested, and those committed in principle to a a high degree of sustainability, that we should provide a network of public transport in NSW that does not leave those people isolated, and which gets the best possible outcome for public subsidies of accessible, sustainable public transport.


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