RAIL HOPES: Jenny Gardiner with Merv King, Don Page, Thomas George and Peter Breen
RAIL HOPES: Jenny Gardiner with Merv King, Don Page, Thomas George and Peter Breen

Take control of rail link row, Carr told

By ALEX EASTON

PREMIER Bob Carr should overrule Transport Minister Michael Costa and start a Northern Rivers commuter train service, senior local Labor Party figures have said.

Prominent Labor members including Lismore councillor Jenny Dowell, Byron councillor Ray Kestle, Bay FM president Tony Parker and recent Federal Labor candidate for Page Kevin Bell yesterday called for Mr Carr to intervene, just as he did last week with Sydney's rail crisis.

The comments followed similar calls from mayors and Northern Rivers Trains for the Future president Karin Kolbe, and came as Mr Costa rejected a Legislative Council report recommending the rail link between Casino and Murwillumbah be restored.

A spokesman for Mr Costa yesterday said the Minister was now calling for the Federal Government take over the running of the line.

Mr Bell called on Mr Carr to show leadership.

"It would be pleasing if Mr Carr overruled Mr Costa on this, as he has done in the past," Mr Bell said.

However, hopes of that appeared slim yesterday, with a spokesman for Mr Carr refusing to comment on the calls, and referring all questions to Mr Costa, whose spokesman also declined to comment.

Country Labor Ballina State Electoral Council president Sue Dakin, of Ballina, said both men needed to start listening to the region.

"I think Carr needs to look at his Minister and get him to touch base with people in this region," Ms Dakin said. "He needs to make Costa get more involved."

Ms Dakin pointed to recent interventions by Health Minister Morris Iemma and Housing Minister Carl Scully to help individual families in the region, adding that Mr Carr had visited the region several times during the year.

"Yet Costa hasn't. He is the only Minister where there are issues of high concern in his portfolio and he hasn't been up to see it first-hand," she said.

"He is treating the rural electorate as if it's stupid."

She pointed to bipartisan support for the train, a Country Labor resolution backing the train, and the community's fight for the service.

"All those people can't be wrong," Ms Dakin said.



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