Coalition to restore rail services

THE Federal Coalition yesterday reaffirmed its commitment to restoring rail services on the Northern Rivers after Transport Minister Anthony Albanese accused it of backing out on a promise.

Mr Albanese delivered the accusation yesterday, pointing to the Coalition’s recently released policy costings, which did not include the restoration of the Casino-Murwillumbah line. The costings statement also warned ‘any other past (Coalition) commitments have been discontinued’.

“We now know this ‘promise’ was a sham,” Mr Albanese said in a statement. “Yet further proof the Nationals have been treating North Coast residents like mugs, telling them one thing to their faces while knowing they will never be able to honour the undertakings they give.”

However, a spokesman for Nationals Leader Warren Truss said the Coalition’s commitment on the train – spelt out during a visit to the region by the Nationals’ leadership team early this month – had never included a dollar figure.

The spokesman said the Coalition’s approach to the Casino-Murwillumbah line, during the Howard years and since, had always been to pressure the State Government to step up and restore the line.

He said he did not know what was going to happen at the NSW election next March, but hopefully there would be a change of government and the Coalition had committed to restoring the line and putting commuter trains on it.

Under those circumstances a Federal Coalition government would be prepared to help the State Government get the trains running again, he said.

Richmond Nationals candidate Tania Murdock, who has been campaigning on the train issue, said the Federal Coalition had never promised to restore rail services.

However, she said she and the party’s Page candidate, Kevin Hogan, were both fighting to restore rail services to the region.

“And if I’m going to fight for something I don’t tend to let up,” Ms Murdock said.

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