Regional Rail; Insfrastructure; Local issues

Legislative Council Standing Committee On The Economy And Infrastructure

10 February 2016

Minister for Public Transport

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — I rise to support the request of the upper house that the Minister for Public Transport attend upper house committee hearings around her failings as Minister for Public Transport.

As has already been very well laid out by the manager of opposition business, this is something that needs to happen — the minister does need to appear before this committee.

If you think about the minister’s performance with the issues around the regional rail link, the issues around V/Line and the absolute misery that regional commuters are going through and have been going through since early January — and as has been reported, will be going through until at least June — I think that the minister and the government by defending the minister and by stating that the minister will not appear before this committee are showing an absolute lack of respect for regional Victorian commuters, who actually want answers and want answers from the minister as to why the regional rail link project is not delivering the benefits that were promised, as to why V/Line trains are now being taken off the tracks because of excessive wheel wear and as to why the boom gates are not coming down for those trains that are coming in from Gippsland in particular.

Those communities want answers. They do not want the bureaucrats coming along and stonewalling. They want the minister in front of that committee, and I believe to show respect to those communities she needs to attend that particular committee.

Otherwise the government is using its numbers in this house to protect the minister from scrutiny. And on that issue I think the Attorney‑General in this case also has an interest in this, because he was actually the transport minister when decisions were made around the regional rail link that led to some of the problems that we have here.

There are some vested interests by the Attorney‑General in making sure the minister does not appear before this committee, because she will have to point the finger towards him in terms of the decisions he made that caused some of the problems that we have.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr WALSH — I think you will find they were made by the Attorney‑General.

I believe that the minister should attend. This house should support the minister attending the all‑party upper house inquiry into this absolutely critical issue, particularly for regional Victoria.

For the government to use its numbers to block the minister attending I think shows its absolute lack of respect for regional Victorians, particularly for regional Victorian commuters who are going through weeks and weeks and months and months of misery because of this minister and this government.

 

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