Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, wants the Transport Minister, Ben Carroll, to directly intervene in the leasing of VicTrack land to councils and community groups.
Speaking in Parliament this afternoon, Mr Walsh said the current policies about the use of VicTrack land across regional Victoria are “ad hoc at best, and a shambles at worst”.
He said on one hand, VicTrack insists on leasing old railway lines to local councils and not direct with community groups.
But in the case of disused train stations and/or platforms; the same department ignores its other position and happily goes about signing up incorporated community groups to become responsible for those assets.
“The latest example to come through the front door of my electorate office is about the decommissioned track between Lockington and Kotta,” Mr Walsh said.
“An enthusiastic community group in Locky want to establish a walking/riding trail along the 9.2km of track to Kotta for the social, physical and mental wellbeing of the local population,” he said.
“The established practice has been VicTrack leasing this idle land to the relevant local council, which in turn provides it to the community group to develop – sometimes in partnership and other times on its own.
“Which is what brings me to the floor of the Parliament – in this case Campaspe Shire is proving reluctant to get involved as the lessee and VicTrack is just as adamant it does not want to do the deal with the community.
“In my electorate of Murray Plains there is a network of these walking trails; community-driven wellbeing projects which are also proving quite the drawcard for domestic tourists.”
Which he said in Parliament has seen the trail’s supporters starting fundraisers for the project, including a fun run along the proposed route.
“VicTrack is already well down this co-operative path, having done those leases with incorporated community groups for decommissioned platforms and stations across regional Victoria,” he said.
“To add its disused railway lines to that list would certainly solve the challenges facing the Lockington group; and would also make these proposal – and future applications – a much smoother process as we would be reducing the layers of state and local government involvement and the department could simply deal directly with the people who want the project and the communities which will benefit from it.
“But to achieve this bureaucratic breakthrough will require the Minister to get involved and I am sure there are many communities, not just Lockington, which would appreciate that effort,” Mr Walsh said.