In a constructive round-table discussion with members of the Eurobodalla community three prominent NSW Labor MPs heard first hand of the ideas, the concerns and the frustrations behind the transport options and plans for the South East.
The Member for Bega, Dr Michael Holland MP invited the Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs & Treaty and Shadow Minister for Jobs Investment and Tourism, David Harris MP, along with the Shadow Minister for Regional Transport & Roads, Jenny Aitchison MP to the electorate of Bega to discuss with stakeholders how they can improve South East NSW transport networks and roads and the outcomes being sought by individuals, tourism operators and other industries and communities.
There was a good cross section of community members who capably delivered their suggestions of where improvements might be made, discussing a myriad of chronic road, traffic, safety and tourism and planning issues in the Bega electorate, particularly in the Eurobodalla Shire.
More than evident was the continued frustration that consultation with the community by Transport NSW appears to be little more than box-ticking and lip-service, especially in regards to the Moruya by-pass.
Dr Michael Holland said of his meeting with the community:
“In regard to our major transport infrastructure projects, consultation needs to involve everyone - from those who use the roads to those who service the roads.”
“It’s been really valuable to have these conversations with our different providers, residents and community groups.”
“Regional communities deserve reliable and sustainable outcomes.”
Shadow Minister for Regional Transport & Roads, Jenny Aitchison MP said:
“Our regions need integrated and strategic plans that take a holistic approach to transport and infrastructure.”
“One thing we’ve heard from many stakeholders this week is the disappointment with NSW Government’s failure to properly consult with the community.”
“Transport is a social determinant of health, education, opportunity, jobs and prosperity for the region.”
“When we have transport inequity we create issues for people”
The topics discussed around the table were:
EV charging and Tourism
Bus stops (undesignated) and safety
Investment & education opportunities
Strategic village plans
The future of public transport
Gary Smith of Moruya Teensafe was vocal on the need to improve safety of the Princes and Kings Highway along with the State funded regional roads saying it was obvious that the 'pipe dream' of a dual carriageway from Nowra to the Victorian border won't happen for decades, if at all so in the immediate future it is vital to recognise this as a fact and install more overtaking lanes to accommodate the volume of traffic that is steadily building and the reality that the sub-optimal sections of roads we have are no longer fit for purpose.
He also noted the anomaly that there is a lack of public transport yet we have an excellent school bus service, pointing out that school buses are subsidised. As such there is the potential for an interim bus service during school holidays serviced by the buses that are paid for, but not used.
Scathingly, and as many have done before him, he pointed out that the Regional Development Board have offered little evidence of any input to advocate for road improvements and have, in his opinion, sadly missed opportunities to lobby for near on a decade.
Following the meeting with community representatives the Members then met with Eurobodalla Council staff.
The meetings were part of a tour of the South East to look at transport issues and to listen to community members ahead of the next State election in March 2023.
Whilst there are think tanks such as the South East Australian Transport Strategy that look holistically at the network, and Transport NSW that develops their own strategies and priorities, there is little opportunity for the community to come forward in a round table such as this weeks events.
Above: NSW Labor MPs meet with Eurobodalla staff.