Both Houses of the NSW Parliament will debate reopening the Murwillumbah to Casino rail line following notices of motion filed by NSW Nationals MPs.
Clarence Nationals MP Steve Cansdell, whose electorate includes Casino, welcomed the move, saying neither he nor locals had ever accepted Labor’s decision to cut the line back in 2004.
“Ahead of the fifth anniversary of Labor’s axe on 17 May, I am asking local residents to contact me with their ideas so they can have their say in this important debate,” he said.
Mr Cansdell said residents could write to him at 11 Prince Street, Grafton, or email email@example.com
“The eventual plan is that you’d hop onto a light rail service at Casino and get off at any station between there and Brisbane,” Mr Cansdell said.
“This is the sort of nation-building infrastructure both levels of government are talking about, but now it is time for Labor to put its money where its mouth is.
“This wouldn’t just be a huge boost for the lifestyle of North Coast residents; it would be a major boost for our economy, which in turn means we’d be sending even more taxes to Sydney and Canberra.”
Mr Cansdell said the cost of introducing six light rail services a day between Casino and Murwillumbah had been estimated at $150 million, or about one-third of one per cent of the Federal Government’s latest stimulus package.
“We would then need further funding to link up with the line the Queensland Government is completing from Brisbane to the border at Gold Coast airport.”
NOTICES OF MOTIONS (General Notices)— 1 Mr PROVEST to move— That this House: (1) Notes that 17 May 2009 will be the fifth anniversary of the Government’s axing of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service. (2) Urges the Government to immediately: a) allocate funding to introduce a light rail service in line with the Getting the North Coast Back on Track 2007 election policy, which mirrored that of North Coast train lobby group Trains on our Tracks (TOOT). b) identify and reserve a rail corridor to complete the missing link to Queensland’s proposed railway station at the Gold Coast Airport. c) apply for Federal Government funding under the Building Australia Fund for these much needed projects: (i) Recommencement of rail services from Casino to Murwillumbah (ii) Immediately start planning and construction of the Murwillumbah to the Gold Coast airport link.
Meanwhile, Member for Lismore Thomas George has again raised in Parliament the need to reinstate the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service as quickly as possible.
“The Casino to Murwillumbah rail service must be reinstated as part of the Government’s stimulus package,” Mr George told the NSW Parliament.
“The Government could provide much-needed stimulus to the North Coast by reinstating the service. It would not only support the region’s transport industry but also support tourism and industry along the line.”
Mr George said the people of the North Coast were anxious to see what the State Labor Government wiped out some five years ago reinstated immediately.
“The Federal Members for Page and for Richmond made much noise about how they would support the reinstatement of this rail service. However, five years on neither they nor any of their colleagues have pushed for the project to be part of the stimulus package,” he said.
Mr George said the NSW Labor Government had actually failed to release its cross-border report it had worked on with the Queensland Government, despite it being finalised and available since last July.
“Rather than stimulate the local economy by promoting the reinstatement of the service, the State Labor Government has hidden its report into the project from public scrutiny. It has only been through the efforts and pressure of my colleague, NSW Nationals Upper House Member, Jenny Gardiner that this report is finally going to be released next week,” he said.
”Unfortunately we have also learnt that this so-called comprehensive report could be just three pages! How serious is this Government about stimulating the New South Wales economy?”
Mr George said Michael Costa had blamed the State’s financial position for the rail line’s closure back in 2004 ‘yet here we have a perfect opportunity to stimulate the North Coast’s economy and the project has been completely ignored by Labor’.
“Again, I ask the Government to consider the needs of the North Coast, not just the electorate of Lismore. I demand that it reinstate the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service and extend it to Tweed Heads as part of a comprehensive stimulus package for the region,” he said.