Gippsland MPs attempt to railroad government

GIPPSLAND parliamentarians have launched a petition asking the state government to deliver a fair share of funding to improve the Gippsland rail line.

Nationals members, Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien, Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull, Morwell MLA Russell Northe and Eastern Victoria MLC Melina Bath joined Liberals Narracan MLA Gary Blackwood and Eastern Victoria MLC Edward O’Donohue to highlight what they say is a lack of action by the state government in providing a reliable regional public transport network.

Mr O’Brien said more services were needed to address the growing demand for public transport in Sale and Rosedale.

“People in my electorate are sick of the Gippsland line being the worst performer for punctuality,” he said.

“The Coalition had a plan to address that issue, to add new services to sale and new rolling stock, but Gippsland is now being neglected by the Labor government,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Andrews government needs to invest in regional rolling stock specifically for Gippsland to meet the demand as we committed to in government.”

Mr Bull said there had been a clear message from his electorate of Gippsland East that additional Bairnsdale services committed to by the former Liberal-National government were critical to commuters’ needs.

“My office has been continually approached seeking support for additional peak and weekend services to and from Bairnsdale and we committed to that under our transport plan which supported Gippsland in 2014,” he said.

“There is a strong feeling in the community everywhere I go that the Andrews government is ignoring the needs of Gippsland East and its failure to support additional rail services to Bairnsdale only highlights those comments.”

According to Ms Bath, the government’s current package to focus upgrades in the Cranbourne-Pakenham rail corridor demonstrated Labor had forgotten Gippsland.

“Regional commuters have been forgotten by this government and the petition we are launching today across Gippsland will send the message very clearly to Melbourne that it must invest in regional public transport to deliver the services we deserve,” she said.

Mr Blackwood said the duplication of line between Longwarry and Bunyip had been ignored by the current government, resulting regularly in delayed services.

Mr O’Donohue said the growth in Gippsland’s population warranted strong investment to boost access and frequency of public transport services.

“Investing in our public transport network as the eastern region of our state grows is critical to ensure those who move beyond Pakenham have access to reliable and frequent public transport to and from Melbourne,” he said.

Petitions are available at Mr O’Brien’s office at 54B Cunninghame St, Sale, or phone 5144 1987.

The office of Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan was asked for comment but had not responded by deadline.

For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.