Another parcel of valuable railway land is now in the process of being prepared to be sold, owing to its being ‘surplus to requirements’ of Transport for NSW staff.
The large railway corridor is located in the heart of Mullumbimby, opposite Tony Carsburg Motors, and runs along Prince and Argyle Streets.
It’s the second Byron shire sale flagged by the department in recent weeks; sale of a 611sqm parcel of railway land behind the Wollongbar Motel on Shirley Street in Byron Bay is underway.
While the confirmation by Transport for NSW drew the ire of local MP Tamara Smith (Greens), The Echo is yet to hear from locally based MLC Ben Franklin (Nationals) on whether he supports the sale.
The Echo asked the government department, ‘Is this a decision by an elected official or by staff? Is there a potential buyer, how large is the area’, and, ‘will this mean that no train will ever return to this line?’
A Transport for NSW spokesperson replied, ‘The land is owned by Transport for NSW and surplus to our requirements. We are in the early stages of putting the land up for sale.’
Expressions of interest
They continued, ‘The land is not needed to keep the corridor viable. The land will be put out for expressions of interest at some time in the future. The total area is still to be determined.’
Local state MP Tamara Smith told The Echo, ‘Our rail corridors belong to the community and are held in trust by the government of the day. Communities in our region (and my ancestors) lobbied for decades in the late 19th century for rail transport on the north coast to support regional economies and bring connectivity between communities in the northern rivers.’
Ms Smith continued, ‘When the government of the day decided that rail was no longer financially viable, they removed that connectivity and left us utterly reliant on cars and fossil fuels.’
‘The idea that they can now sell up that public land and place it in the coffers of a government that has leased to private corporations more than 80 per cent of our state infrastructure should disturb us all very much.
Sold the farm
‘There seems to be no end to the greed of the NSW Nationals and Liberals, who having already “sold the farm” in terms of our poles and wires, is selling off our precious public land at an unprecedented rate.
‘Our foremothers and fathers paid in blood, sweat, tears and taxes over many decades to get rail in our region. The corridors belong to the community and we decide what happens to that public land – not the bean counters in Sydney!
‘If the current government won’t support public transport along our currently disused rail corridors, then give them to us to manage and support us with grants to restore the connectivity and regional commerce that we once had.’
Public asset sale
The Echo asked Mr Franklin, ‘Do you support this public asset sale and if so, why? Shouldn’t politicians make these types of decisions instead of unelected bureaucrats? Are you concerned this trend would lead to no train ever being able to return to the railway line?’
The Echo did not receive a reply by deadline.