PUBLIC MEETING 18 October 2005

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Launch of Bumper sticker campaign

At our Public Meeting and we heard the latest information on the rail extension to South Morang and launched the bumper sticker campaign to put pressure on our local MP's to honour their promise. Guest speakers spoke on the night putting their position and answered questions.
Image Trevor Carroll
Trevor Carroll (Secretary of the Alliance at the time) went through a Powerpoint presentation putting all the facts to date from a local perspective highlighting many of the incorrect pieces of information and meaningless rhetoric that the Government has put out to convince local electors that they cannot keep their 1999 promise to build the extension to South Morang. He called for local MPs to fund the rail extension in the next state budget or face a community campaign against them at the next state election. 'We want the crap to stop. We want all this nonsense about the Trainlink bus being the best service in Melbourne when less than 5 passengers a trip are using it, the claims that capacity problems on the Epping/Hurstbridge are line stopping the extension to stop. We are sick of excuses.' Trevor said. He called on the Council to do more and challenged Mayor Sam Alessi to display the Alliance bumper sticker on his own vehicle. Trevor called for the press to make this an election issue and for the Opposition parties in state parliament to campaign on the extension at the next election. He also urged local residents and businesses to get behind the Alliance campaign to bring back some honesty into politics. Trevor then launched our new Bumper sticker campaign with all participants receiving one.(See copy on the Home Page)
Image Vaughan Williams
Vaughan Williams, Policy Director of the PTUA showed a presentation featuring state and interstate rail transport options making the point that the government's Clifton Hill Rail Group Review cannot be relied upon as an excuse for failing to proceed with the extension to South Morang as soon as possible. He showed a 1980 rail timetable that clearly indicated more peak hour trains on the Epping line than currently operate despite the claims by the government that capacity constraints prevent the extension from proceeding. Vaughan presented convincing and irrefutable evidence that the Epping line has consistently been the most reliable in terms of on time performance and train cancellations over the last 12 months and that a simple, cost effective method of immediately increasing the number of trains on the line would be to operate the City Loop in a clockwise direction at all times. This option is not even canvassed in the Clifton Hill Rail Group Review. Vaughan also highlighted the ALP government funded 4km MetroRail extension to Clarkson on the northern fringe of Perth, WA (similar to South Morang) where trains run every 10 minutes in peak hour and 15 minutes off peak with a forecast 68% rail patronage growth in the next 5 years and posed the question 'Why can't our state government do likewise?'
Image Dr Paul Mees (Deceased)
Dr Paul Mees, a lecturer on Public Transport at the University of Melbourne gave an entertaining international comparison on this issue to counter the government's claims that alleged capacity problems on the Epping/Hurstbridge line prevented the rail extension to South Morang. In fact, the metropolitan rail network is carrying fewer passengers per day now than it has ever done despite the introduction of the City Loop. Paul said the reason no one was willing to claim authorship of the Clifton Hill Rail Group Review was that no one was willing to take responsibility. 'What these faceless, nameless people are saying is... Trust us, we won't tell you who we are, where we got our information from, if you'd just accept what we're saying....and frankly, I think that's an insult to all of our collective self-respect as citizens. Paul said trains lines around the world similar to Melbourne had smaller trains and carried up to 33 times more passengers than the Epping line. 'This idea that we've got some terrible problems squeezing passengers onto our rail system in Melbourne is just astonishing.'
Image Mayor Sam Alessi
Mayor Sam Alessi put the City of Whittlesea's position. He stated that the extension of the rail line to South Morang was the Council's NO 1 priority. He also indicated that Council had plans in place for the rail line to go to South Morang, but was waiting for the government to fund the extension. He also called on the federal government to help fund rail infrastructure projects like the South Morang extension. He spoke about his work as an advocate on a range of different committees. Mayor Alessi was challenged over he and his ALP Council colleagues failure to sign the Friends of South Morang 2004 petition calling on the state government to fund the rail extension.
Image Letter of invitation to Lily D'Ambrosio MP dated 15 August 2005
All three local MPs namely, Peter Batchelor, Lily D'Ambrosio and Danielle Green were invited to attend almost 2 months before the Public Meeting but all claimed to be too busy with parliamentary duties. Not only that, but the Minister for Transport could not find a single person from his office or the Department of Infrastructure to attend and put the government's position on the issue. This was a source of dissatisfaction amongst those present at the Public Meeting and was a major topic of conversation over supper. The South Morang Rail Alliance is appalled at recent press reports that the local MP's were not made aware of the meeting until October 02. Visitors to this site can read the letter of invitation beside this text and judge for themselves. The fact that no was was present to put the government's position was a clear indication to the Alliance that our local MP's are frightened to face the community over this controversial issue. The only way to resolve community anger over the government's broken 1999 promise is to fund the extension to South Morang in the next state budget.

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