The purpose of the trip was to meet with Wollongong City Council and other members of the LRTC to push for more freight into Wollongong port and to open railway lines including Maldon/Dombarton and Blayney to Demondrille railway line.
It must be said that the trip was most successful given the non attendance of key personnel. Bill West could not come and Mike Foster was also absent both due to family health concerns. We had three Mayors ,Chris Manchester of Harden, Stuart Freudenstein of
Young and Mark Liebich of Weddin who were there to join with Lord Mayor ,Gordon Bradbery of Wollongong City Council. Fifteen in total left on the bus for Wollongong and they were joined by another fifteen who had travelled by their own means to take part in a very complete tour of the Inner Harbour and Outer Harbour of Port Kembla guided by the CEO of Port Kembla, Dom Figliomeni. It was a tour that should not have been missed by anyone who had an interest in the welfare of the Central West and South West of New South Wales.
The Lord Mayor was most hospitable in providing great facilities for us all to feel most welcome and he and his staff are to be congratulated on their willingness to assist in any way. The meeting was opened by Gordon and his welcoming remarks were seconded by Chris Manchester. Judy Hannan of Wollondilly Council spoke with her remarks centred on the tragedy of the non-completion of the missing link known as the Maldon/Dombarton railway line. This work was stopped in the time of Nick Greiner and much later Julia Gillard promised 25 million dollars to complete the engineering studies. The apparent lack of action on this matter will be chased up in the near future. Mr Albanese who has great knowledge of all transport matters might be able to let us know what happened to the study and the money. Judy was appalled that the current Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, was heard to say that the Maldon/Dombarton line was an urban passenger line when it is actually planned for freight only. Someone is wrong. The funding depends on the terminology.
Professor Ian Gray spoke on the economic benefits of the proposal to open the Blayney to Demondrille rail line which would then connect to Port Kembla for the transport of freight into the Port including
wheat in season, but other freight exists right now, double the amount required to make the line work. It does seem strange that a senior member of the staff of Duncan Gay said that no ore would ever get to Port Kembla from the Cowra area when Dom Figliomeni reported that he had shipped to an overseas destination 22 thousand tonnes of ore from Cowra. Phillip Laird gave an enthusiastic report to the meeting on the need for our work on rail and that was well received. Dom Figliomeni was a great tour guide and Dom was adamant that our Lachlan Regional Transport Committee must be more politically active in chasing up the politicians to really have a serious look at freight and not just give comforting words which are now being looked at with a jaundiced eye. Lawrence Ryan, rail historian and rail book author gave an insight to the rail system as it now operates and how it could operate successfully in the future. Tony Madden of Maddens Refrigerated Transport from Harden who operate a large fleet of modern trucks spoke passionately of the need for our Committee to become more politically active, to push our case for rail as he said trucks are going to lose the battle to keep up to the task.
Mark Liebich gave a final report and thanked the Wollongong City Council for their efforts in helping to bring together the five Councils who along with the LRTC were pushing for a better deal. He mentioned that the five councils would also request that the LRTC take a part in the final selection of the Expression of Interest submissions. The LRTC certainly has the people with hands on practical knowledge of the industry and also has a strong academic group who have been recognised overseas for their expertise. Our group will certainly be in contact with Wolondilly and Wollongong about seeking representation on the transport meetings held in their area. Such a meeting was held only days ago in which Duncan Gay was guest speaker. What a lost opportunity for our group.
A special treat was then made available for the travellers and that was a walk on the Maldon/Dombarton line including the huge partially constructed bridge. It was described as almost criminal that such infrastructure has been allowed to lay idle. I wonder how many
politicians have actually put their feet upon the bridge? It was suggested that perhaps the LRTC should field a candidate in the next elections to push the other candidates on transport matters. A question asked can often uncover other hidden agendas.
We must thank Wilkinson's from Young Travel for the supply of the transport and for the excellent driver, Ray Blackwood. Judy Hannan is to be thanked for making possible the tour of the uncompleted bridge.
The next meeting of the LRTC is expected to be soon confirmed to be at Katoomba on Feb 8, 2014
Chair of the LRTC
Maurice Simpson Chairman LRTC, Gordon Bradbery Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Councilor Chris Connor Wollongong Council, Stuart Freudenstein Mayor of Young, Chris Manchester Mayor of Harden, Mark Liebich Mayor of Weddin and Dom Figliomeni CEO of Port Kembla