Ms DUNN (Eastern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan. The NorthWest Rail Alliance has collected over 7000 signatures in six weeks in Mildura in support of reinstating passenger rail services to that city. With the Rural City of Mildura’s population at 55 000, Sunraysia’s population at over 65 000 and Mildura’s tristate catchment at 130 000, the Mildura region’s population is large and steadily growing. Passenger rail services are the only viable public transport option for many people in the region, particularly the elderly, people with disabilities and people with low incomes. The existing bus services between Mildura and Melbourne are too cramped and leave and return in the dead of the night. Yes, there are commercial passenger flights, but they are too expensive and are often full if required at short notice. Service provision is patchy — for example, there are no flights on a Saturday afternoon.
It is not good enough that the Rural City of Mildura, with over 50 000 people, is not provided with passenger rail services. The Andrews Labor government has not listened to the community and instead is focusing solely on upgrading the airport. This investment will not meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the community. The NorthWest Rail Alliance has commissioned a credible benefitcost analysis of reinstating and running Mildura rail services. This report should feed into the infrastructure planning for the state’s northwest. The action I seek is that Minister Allan include in the upcoming budget funds for a feasibility study for reopening passenger rail services between Maryborough and Mildura.