My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport.
In a sense, it’s a matter that’s more than 25 years in the making – because, quite shamefully, over a quarter of a century has passed since the city of Mildura last had access to a passenger rail service.
In fact, it’s the only major centre in Victoria that still remains condemned to such a fate.
Given their geographic isolation and limited current public transport options, I’d argue that its people actually should be about the last to be precluded from access to full passenger rail services. At the very least as a first step, they need access to a shuttle service between Mildura and perhaps either Maryborough or Ballarat.
I might add that the restoration of these services would also fit in very neatly with the Government’s agenda of trying to initiate a construction and infrastructure-led recovery from the coronavirus. Not to mention that it could both complement, and be complemented by, the potential resumption of the crucially-important Murray Basin Rail Project.
It would also take more trucks (and coaches, for that matter) off the road – the importance of which the Government has been emphasising recently in relation to a number of projects around Melbourne.
Obviously, relatively recent guidance on how to re-create passenger rail services is available, too, from the experience of several other Victorian towns (like Ararat, Bairnsdale and Maryborough itself, for example), as well as many other places nationally and internationally.
There surely can’t be too credible or consistent a cost argument against it in Mildura’s case, either, given the Government has long been spending huge sums of money, with alacrity, on infrastructure and transport projects elsewhere in the State. Such expenditure would also be offset, in this case, by the likely substantial social and economic spinoffs for the Mallee region, in particular. Regular passenger rail travel into and out of Mildura would clearly help, for example, to reduce the impacts of isolation; increase liveability; stimulate more local jobs and population growth; lift tourism; and decrease local residents’ travel costs (including to services elsewhere such as medical appointments) – as well as alleviate basic inequity.
Not least for any of those reasons, the goal of restoring passenger rail for Mildura is (importantly) also an idea that enjoys the strong buy-in and widespread support of local communities.
President, the action I seek from the Minister is that she commit to the restoration of passenger rail services to Mildura, at the very least through a regular shuttle service.