Rail alliance told it’s time for a political party

01 Oct, 2015 01:00 AM
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Labor MLC Darren West addressed the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance meeting in Quairading last week, suggesting the group fights the political issue by establishing its own party before the next election.
I think it's time for them to take their political efforts to a higher level
Labor MLC Darren West addressed the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance meeting in Quairading last week, suggesting the group fights the political issue by establishing its own party before the next election.

THE Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA) and a room of supporters have been encouraged to start their own political party before the next election to drive action on the grain on rail issue.

Labor MLC and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Food Darren West told a WRRA strategic meeting in Quairading last week to play the issue out in the political sphere.

"It is clear that their efforts so far have got them really good media publicity," he said.

"They've run a couple of rallies in Perth that have got a fair bit of attention, they've lobbied all kinds of MPs, both city and country, and have raised the awareness of the issue all to no avail.

"Their political representatives that they've elected are ignoring all of it.

"Given that, I think it's time for them to take their political efforts to a higher level."

Mr West said a political entry by the WRRA with the single policy focus could motivate action.

This suggestion comes as WRRA organisers believe their role is no longer to fight for grain on the closed Tier 3 rail lines, but to broaden their focus to the whole industry as rail leaseholder, Brookfield Rail's parent company considers a takeover of Asciano with a long-term view of owning the Fremantle Port.

"The next State election is going to be a lot closer than the last, every seat and every vote is going to count," Mr West said.

"This is open to them."

A potential class action against the State Government was also discussed at the meeting, but Mr West said attendees responded nervously to the option.

He told the meeting, grain on rail was no longer a social and economic issue, he said it was now "purely political".

"If they can maximise their effectiveness in the political angle, therein lies the way for a positive outcome," Mr West said.

WRRA assistant co-ordinator Lindsay Tuckwell said the meeting had not made a decision on the political suggestions made by Mr West.

However, various attendees did question Mr West on his commitments to grain on rail, particularly if the Labor Party is successful at the 2017 election.

Mr West said Labor was committed to grain on rail and to competitive supply chain costs for WA growers, particularly in light of reports WA growers delivering to Merredin are paying up to $7.40 per tonne more in freight than their counterparts in Victoria.

"Everybody gets the issue, the issue is that we've got a State-owned, publically-owned, taxpayer-owned asset that will get our grain to port in the most efficient and timely manner in the most desirable environmental and social acceptable way, but it's not being fully utilised," he said.

"That's the issue and nobody understands why that is the case.

"The politics are much more complex than just allowing rail access, the alliance has to turn its focus on both the issue and the politics rather than just highlighting the issue."

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READER COMMENTS

Consolidated
1/10/2015 9:29:53 AM, on Farm Weekly

Don't like the idea of this issue becoming politically driven. That's when solutions move to the realms of economically irrational and socialistic, meaning we will all be forced to pay to get the railway up and rolling. 'Tax the west to prop up the east' I can just hear the chants now.
Mike
1/10/2015 11:44:23 AM, on Farm Weekly

At the 2013 election, 75% of first preference votes went collectively to the Nationals and Liberals. A new party is not the answer but rather, in 2017, these voters need to support whoever is committed to keeping these lines open. Not sure any of the existing parties have a strong track record on that.
the serf
1/10/2015 11:50:35 AM, on Farm Weekly

totally agree consolidated, all this mob will end up doing is giving govt a 'mandate' to come up with some kind of industry levy we all have to foot the bill for many generations to come. tier 3 is history, get over it.
Mock Junro
1/10/2015 2:24:33 PM, on Farm Weekly

Maybe its not a political issue, but a commercial one...........
Ron
2/10/2015 5:58:50 AM, on Farm Weekly

This should never got to this stage. The Nats should of stood up to Barnett long ago It's time the Nats were showen the door. All they seem to do is rubber stamp Barnetts bills
boris
2/10/2015 6:58:11 AM, on Farm Weekly

Why bother with dilapidated rail lines when the crop makes it way to Port in a timely manner anyway. The grain freight task compared to the whole freight task in the South West land division is small. If this group want to push for a few more dollars into roads them they have my vote, unlikely though, given the nostalgia they have for rail. I just wish they would listen to those who genuinely tell the truth which is that CBH do not want all the T3 lines open. The Libs and Nats are doing a fantastic job by not giving into the uneconomic and political demands of the WRRG.

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