THE Coalition has promised to fund a wide-ranging review of public transport in western Victoria if it wins Saturday’s election.
Wimmera councils were among 10 municipalities that had agreed to contribute a combined $40,000 to a rail feasibility study.
Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy said the review would look at a bigger picture than the proposed rail study.
‘‘This will be an entirely internal government review – the funding won’t be taken from the councils,’’ she said.
‘‘The focus will be on an entire review of public transport services across western Victoria.’’
‘‘It’s not just looking at passenger rail and that feasibility study, it’s also taking into account bus services that connect the smaller communities right across the region.’’
She said the study would not require a contribution from councils.
Horsham councillor Tony Phelan said council had been a long-time advocate for the return of passenger rail west of Ararat.
‘‘I’m very pleased the Coalition has picked up on the interest of the community that we do need improved public transport,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s only a start. The real issue is what will the outcome of this study be?
‘‘It’s important we keep our irons in the fire, keep agitating and keep promoting the need for better public transport for western Victoria.’’
‘‘It’s too little, too late. The Nationals have had since 1979 in Lowan to have a strategy for public transport and why not agree to the funding of the council’s feasibility?’’Independent candidate Katrina Rainsford
Independent candidate Katrina Rainsford accused the Coalition of treating people in Lowan as second-class citizens and fools.
‘‘Lowan has been neglected for too long and it’s an insult to announce a study four days out from an election,’’ she said.
‘‘It hasn’t been on the Nationals’ radar until a last minute policy to try to win some favour.
‘‘It’s too little, too late. The Nationals have had since 1979 in Lowan to have a strategy for public transport and why not agree to the funding of the council’s feasibility?’’
Dr Rainsford said she favoured the original rail feasibility study proposal over the Nationals’ announcement.
‘‘We want action and the councils have made their priorities known. Buses are a very important part but returning rail is a game changer,’’ she said.
Labor candidate Bob Scates said it seemed like another last-minute announcement designed to grab votes.
‘‘Anything the National and Liberal parties say about public transport, I take with a grain of salt.’’Labor candidate Bob Scates
‘‘The Hamilton to Horsham bus disappeared some time in the past three years under the Napthine Government,’’ he said.
‘‘There was no consultation, no surveys and no discussions with communities between Hamilton and Horsham.
‘‘Anything the National and Liberal parties say about public transport, I take with a grain of salt.’’
Australian Country Alliance candidate Steve Price said transport announcements for increased services to Ararat and Ballarat were outside the electorate.
‘‘Duplicating services or increasing services and studies aren’t going to help the seat of Lowan,’’ he said.
‘‘I’d like to see some railway or infrastructure – a sod of soil moved – not pen-pushers.’’
Greens candidate Nkandu Beltz said the study was overdue and should have been commissioned four years ago.