If Mrs Coote is listening in her room, I can inform her that I am far from wilting. I am standing here and ready to talk about the North Shore train station in Geelong. It is an adjournment matter for the Minister for Public Transport, Terry Mulder.
The North Shore station is one of three Victorian stations the previous Labor government chose to redevelop into a community hub. A task force was set up to do this which included representatives from the Department of Transport and the City of Greater Geelong as well as local residents. Plans had been drawn up for buildings and landscaping, and the Department of Transport set aside $1.5 million for these works.
The project is particularly important as the North Shore station is the only stop in Geelong for the Overland train travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne via Stawell three times per week, due to the standard gauge line.
On 11 May I joined the meet-and-greet volunteer group which meets passengers getting off the Overland train at North Shore. It was a freezing cold late afternoon in Geelong. These volunteers give up their time to greet the passengers three afternoons a week to ensure that they are welcomed to Geelong and informed about how to get to the centre of Geelong. Members in the chamber might think it is a little bit lavish for visitors to be met and greeted as they arrive in Geelong off the Overland, but it is more a necessity than a luxury due to the facilities, or lack thereof, at the North Shore station. At present the station has no phone, no rubbish bin, no toilet, no signage about how to travel into the Geelong city centre and a very small, inadequate shelter.
When I met with the meet-and-greet group I saw firsthand the problems arising from the lack of facilities. On the night I was there a couple from the central coast of New South Wales who had never visited Geelong before got off the Overland from Stawell assuming that they would be at Geelong’s main train station. They had no idea where they were in Geelong. North Shore station is 7 kilometres from the city centre in the middle of a residential area. It is far from the first impression we want our visitors to have of our region.
The rejuvenation project initiated by the previous Labor government was designed to solve this issue, but it seems that with the change of government the money for this project has disappeared.
The coordinator of the meet-and-greet group, Dr Coralie Jenkin, who is also a member of the task force committee, was told by a Department of Transport representative that there is no money in the budget, and the most recent explanation from the department was that it would be difficult to find out about the plans for the station until the staff at the Department of Transport had returned from the Easter break. Of course that was some time ago. Dr Jenkin and the task force committee have been meeting on this issue for three years, and now they have found out it has all been for nothing. I ask the Minister for Public Transport to inform me and the people of Geelong of where this $1.5 million is and when it will be made available for this important project.