South West MLC Diane Evers has called on the McGowan Government to follow its words with action after it emerged that WA Labor’s 2019 platform has committed to the recovery of Tier 3 rail lines.
The Government’s party platform described the Barnett Government’s closure of regional Tier 3 rail lines as ‘ill-advised, irresponsible and unsafe’, whilst committing to the recovery of closed Tier 3 lines along with a more proactive approach to the networks’ management.
Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) spokesperson for regional development and long-term campaigner for the re-establishment of freight on rail in regional Western Australia, tabled a petition to WA Parliament in August 2019 with over 3,000 signatures calling for the reopening of Tier 3 rail lines.
Since then, in November 2019, major grain cooperative CBH Group failed in a long-running dispute with rail leaseholders Arc Infrastructure to find a solution to the use of Tier 3 rail lines in WA’s Wheatbelt.
Despite the current Government’s position on Tier 3 lines and its repeated criticism of the previous Government for the closure, there has been no action taken to deliver the commitment, despite contributing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to mitigate the impact of freight haulage through road projects such as the $170 million Albany Ring Road.
Ms Evers said the reason road infrastructure projects were being built is because of a misguided failure to invest in rail, which will result in an increased risk to road users’ safety.
The WA Labor state executive also passed a motion put forward by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) last week to call on the State Government to commission an independent environmental and economic impact statement on the closure of Tier 3 and the rail freight lease agreement and the effect that that has had on the state’s economy and future development.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“The McGowan Government needs to get its act together and do something about recovering Tier 3 rail lines in this term.
“Western Australia is contractually bound by a lease that all sides of politics acknowledge has been a mistake, but now this lease perpetuates further bad infrastructure spending.
“Last year, the Transport Minister Rita Saffioti admitted that truck movements on South West roads are set to increase sharply, and projected to quadruple beyond the year 2022.
“Meanwhile, the Albany Ring Road — which state and federal governments are putting $175 million into — is only expected to reach 1200 trucks per day in ten years’ time.
“That is fewer than one per minute, or only 50 trucks an hour, on a $175m road.
“We know that rail is good for the regions and makes roads and travel safer for tourists and residents, it decreases the costs associated with road maintenance and brings work crews into regional towns.
“In 2019, 60 percent of road facilities were the result of crashes in regional WA — the more trucks there are, the more accidents we will have.
“There is clear strong community and industry support for change, now it is time for WA Labor to follow through on its own commitments and put freight back on rail where it belongs.”
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070