Saffioti visits Wheatbelt for a rail inspection

29 Oct, 2015 01:00 AM
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LABOR'S new Shadow Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti says it is "beyond belief" that the WA Government can continue to ignore the calls from the Wheatbelt to help reopen Tier 3 rail lines.

Ms Saffioti, who took on her new role in July, made these comments following a tour of the Wheatbelt and key sites on Monday.

She took over the shadow ministry role from North Metropolitan Region MLC Ken Travers who retired from the position in June.

"I cannot comprehend how the Liberal and National parties have let down their constituency," she said.

"It's beyond belief. They've completely ignored what is a serious issue."

The Wheatbelt tour included a meeting with the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA), visits to Quairading, Bruce Rock and Moorine Rock.

Mr Saffioti said she recognised the issue of grain on rail and the reopening of Tier 3 rail where possible as key points to her portfolio that she had discussed at length with Mr Travers and Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West.

"I wanted to come out and actually understand what is the status quo out there and what are people's feelings," she said.

"It's still a very serious issue for the industry and for farmers in the regions.

"It's been handled very badly.

"I'm quite shocked by the indifference by government members as they just don't seem to care about the future of the region in this issue."

Mr Saffioti said it would be a priority for her to develop a policy on grain on rail going into the 2017 election and would consult with communities, industry and her Labor counterparts.

She said she did not believe leaving CBH and Brookfield rail to negotiate rail access and the future of Tier 3 rail would bring about a positive outcome.

Ms Saffioti acknowledged the Labor Party would need to consider a monetary contribution to the rail asset, but could not be drawn on the details of a contribution.

"It is something definitely we would consider, but it's really about what would be the magnitude of it (a contribution) and what form people want to see it take," she said.

"If there's government money put into it, people will want to see that it will help the industry.

"I'll go back with Darren and work on our policy position so hopefully next year we will have a firm position on this."

In the meantime, she said the Labor Party would continue to lobby in State Parliament on the issue, particularly raising the concern of safety on Wheatbelt roads.

"Road safety is a massive issue for the Wheatbelt,"Ms Saffioti said.

"Putting more trucks on the roads will exacerbate road safety problems.

"We want to put some pressure on the National and Liberal parties. From what I've seen the National and Liberal parties have been acting like they don't form the government on this issue.

"They need to take some responsibility and drive this issue."

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READER COMMENTS

Mock Junro
29/10/2015 10:17:14 AM, on Farm Weekly

I dont think the WA gov have a choice... its under lease

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