Louise Doran, Ocean Shores
In the Echonetdaily articles (Part 1, Prat 2), MP for Ballina, Tamara Smith, says she sees her job as primarily about helping people and working with the community to stop things that are harming the environment. Sentiments we hope all our MPs would adhere to.
After years of record temperatures, drought, followed by the most catastrophic bushfires in recorded history, the increasingly extreme weather events scientists have been warning about for decades, are upon us. There’s little time left to reduce our emissions and stop the destruction of climate change. We know that road transport is one of the biggest contributors to those emissions.
But one of the most contentious local issues, the long battle by so many locals to stop the state government’s plan to destroy the Casino to Murwillumbah (C-M) rail line, worth billions, which has the capacity to take thousands, if not millions of cars off the roads and reduce emissions, to replace it with an expensive bike track, doesn’t deserve a single, solitary mention from the Greens MP for Ballina.
In one of the busiest, over-promoted tourist areas in the country, it’s planned to spend $78m to upgrade the M1 exit into Byron to mitigate the dangerous traffic congestion banking up on the highway. That’s on top of the $5.7m for the roundabout on Ewingsdale Road and $24m for the bypass, which bypasses the train station in the centre of town. That’s a total of $107.7m just to try and keep the traffic moving on six kilometres of road. Add the $100m plus to destroy the train line and build the bike track, and another $100m for the cost of the mostly empty coaches that replaced the train makes a total of $307.7m for no trains. We know from the cost of restoring three kilometres of line in Byron for the solar train, that $307.7m would restore most of the 132kms of C-M line for an accessible to all, sustainable, cost effective train service.
Taking action on climate change, reducing emissions, public transport, protecting the environment, and social justice are supposed to be the Greens strongest policy areas. For the local Green MP to think the years of hard work by so many locals, spending their own money to save the C-M line and get trains running, reduce traffic and emissions, is not worth one word in so many thousands, leaves many stunned.