PUBLIC URGED TO BRACE THEMSELVES FOR COUNTRYLINK CANCELLATIONS

PUBLIC URGED TO BRACE THEMSELVES FOR COUNTRYLINK CANCELLATIONS

PUBLIC URGED TO BRACE THEMSELVES FOR COUNTRYLINK CANCELLATIONS

9 February 2004

The Nationals Member for Lismore Thomas George has urged local residents to brace themselves for the imminent announcement by the Carr Government that CountryLink rail services are to be axed.

"I am reliably informed that the Minister for Transport Services, Michael Costa, will be making an announcement in coming weeks that a raft of CountryLink rail services are to be cancelled and replaced with buses.

"This is bad news for the Lismore Electorate with local residents likely to be given no other option but to travel to Brisbane and Sydney by bus.

"Michael Costa's pathetic excuse will no doubt be that this is caused a shortage of CountryLink drivers, brought about by the Government's newly introduced medical standards, which has seen 4 of 6 drivers fail their medical tests.

"If the Minister claims he is putting safety first he will first need to explain, as the Coalition has been told, why those same 4 drivers passed an earlier medical test last month.

"This is looking more like the Government is going to use the excuse of a lack of drivers as the basis to fulfil their long-held plan to get rid of CountryLink rail services.

"Our community should not forget that the Government's Parry Inquiry into Public Passenger Transport placed doubt on the future of CountryLink rail services. This could include the Sydney-Murwillumbah XPTs, which service a number of local communities.

Mr George said that he has spoken to many angry constituents, who are totally dependant on CountryLink rail services in order to attend ongoing medical appointments, social events or school excursions just to name a few.

"The Government must manage country passenger rail services more effectively than they do now, rather than opting for the `it's all too hard, so just shut it down' approach."

"The replacement of country passenger services with buses and private vehicles could increase the incidence of road accidents. It will certainly increase road traffic and maintenance costs.

"Any money the Government saves from axing trains will simply have to go into maintaining roads.

"I strongly urge local residents to make their views known and to send a big `hands off!' to Sydney-centric Labor.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577