Despite the disruption of losing Senators and staff (and the Government winning control of the Senate), I have still had to keep busy with local and national issues. In some ways I have to keep busier than ever if I want to (a) cover the same number of issues with fewer Senators, (b) balance out the likely loss of some of the forums that previously existed in the Senate for issues to be explored and heard, and (c) get re-elected in Queensland.
Over the weekend, I attended the Pride Fair Day, where the Democrats have had a stall for many years. With Brian Greig’s departure from the Senate, I am keen to make sure that his legacy (and that of many others before him) of effective work and achievement promoting equal rights for people of all sexualities and gender statuses is not lost.
On Sunday I went to a community meeting of people campaigning for the building of the Petrie to Kippa Ring Railway. This goes through an area which has one of the fastest and largest population growths in the country. The land to build it on is already in Government hands. The highway through the area carrying all the traffic up to the Sunshine Coast, already gets severely clogged at peak times, is expected to have traffic doubled and has already had a fortune spent on it.
The railway to Redcliffe – a city on Moreton Bay on a peninsula just north of Brisbane – was first proposed around the end of the 19th Century and is probably Queensland’s oldest and most regularly broken political promise. I have a natural preference for favouring investment in public transport and in favouring rail over road. Despite this, I do acknowledge that rail is not always the best solution. However, putting a rail link through to Redcliffe seems clearly beneficial and cost effective, and it truly baffles me that somehow or other successive Queensland Governments keep talking themselves out of it.
This piece by Peter Spearitt from the Brisbane Institute (pointed out by Benno in a comment to this posting) shows the bizarre aversion to rail that appears to permeate the Queensland Government. It doesn’t mention the Redcliffe rail link, but makes a strong case for rail lines being extended through to Coolangatta and Maroochydore and shows some of the curious logic that seems to be driving infrastructure spending in other directions.
UPDATE: I’m informed that Redcliffe City Council voted unanimously on July 4th to support the construction of the railway and to lobby the Beattie Government. The Council also voted to seek to establish a joint committee with Pine Rivers and Caboolture Councils to lobby for the railway. This is a good sign, particularly as there is widely expected to be a by-election before the end of the year for the state seat of Redcliffe, currently held for the Labor government by the Speaker Ray Hollis (who some may not know was number 2 on the Democrats’ Queensland Senate ticket in 1984, with a person called Cheryl Kernot number 4 on the same ticket). A by-election would provide an ideal chance to pressure the State government to change their mind and deliver on this promise. There’s still a long way to go, but a well organised campaign at community level with a well argued case can sometimes achieve a lot.