I wish to provide comment on a matter that hit the news last week, that being the suggestion by the Labor Government appointed “Citizen Jury” to convert the Gippsland-Melbourne rail line to a Gippsland-Pakenham shuttle, which raised the concern of many Gippsland groups and organisations.
The issue I want to discuss here is not the recommendation itself (which I strongly disagree with), but more with the fact a government appointed body with no Gippsland representation is making recommendations that impact on our region.
The government appointed two “Citizen Juries” – one focused on the metropolitan area and the other with a regional focus.
It was in fact the Metropolitan Citizen Jury that came up with this recommendation, but two questions need posing. Why was this group making recommendations that impact East Gippsland when it had no Gippsland representative – and why did the separate Regional Citizen Jury looking at the future of regional Victoria also have no Gippsland representation?
It smacks of a case of this Government forgetting we even exist yet again.
Rather than having a city based group making recommendations that impact on East Gippsland and saying more consultation would be required, perhaps it should not make the recommendations in the first place until that consultation has been completed. Or better still, get some locals on the decision making group!
Before proceeding any further, it is fair an appropriate to state that after the concerns were raised over the Gippsland line becoming primarily a shuttle service, the Government has since said it will not adopt that particular proposal.
It was interesting that some members of the Labor Party initially said the concerns raised by the Nationals and other Gippsland groups was not accurate, but then it released a statement acknowledging the citizen jury proposal was real, but would not be adopted.
To show the recommendation was real, page 59 of the Citizen Jury report on the Gippsland rail line stated the following:
- “The Jury sees the benefits of converting the present Gippsland-Melbourne Rail Service to a linking Gippsland-Pakenham Shuttle”
- “The Jury suggests that a small number of off-peak Gippsland services would be retained to meet specific demands”
These two statements clearly indicate that the proposal was promoting more shuttle services at the expense of retaining the three direct services to and from Melbourne daily, something that raised a level of concern with many, but particularly seniors who do not wish to get off the Gippsland train to link with a service to the city from Pakenham.
I will advocate that this recommendation is not adopted as we need to keep our three direct services, but more importantly, that any future government appointed groups that are discussing elements important to our region, have Gippsland, and in particular East Gippsland, representation.
Prior to the 2014 election, the Coalition announced a 173m package that included such projects as duplicating sections of the Gippsland line to allow for trains to pass and therefore more services. State Labor did not have any similar policies for the Gippsland line. This is the answer to getting more services longer term.
Monday, August 15, 2016