Rail bill steams on through
THE battle over whether to save the closed Murwillumbah-to-Casino rail line or turn parts of it into bike trails and sell others has taken on a new urgency after the NSW Gov- ernment this week introduced enabling legislation into State Parliament.
Greens Party transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said yesterday the “rail trails” bill had suddenly put every rail line in NSW “at risk of being declared disused and sold off at a stroke of the pen”.
NSW Transport Minister David Campbell introduced the bill to Parliament this week saying the state had more than 3000 kilometres of non-operational rail lines, and in some cases trains had stopped running on them more than 30 years ago.
“This currently idle asset offers enormous potential benefit for communities in rural and regional New South Wales,” he said. “The bill introduces chan- ges to once again allow for public use through their development, especially as rail trails for walking, cycling or potentially horse riding.”
Ms Rhiannon said although the Government claimed the new law would facilitate rail trails it was “a wolf in sheep's clothing”.
“If passed, the Minister for Transport can declare any NSW rail line as disused, wait 30 days for a public consultation period to expire, then sell off the line and associated land to developers,” she said.
“The bill gives no definition of what constitutes a disused line or any appeal process.”
Mr Campbell said the “public rightly expects that the State's assets are available for positive community benefit”.