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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3655 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

travel is far more appealing to a lot of people than being cooped up in a bus. Anyone on a train can get up and walk around.

The people whom Mrs Dunne referred to as battlers and whom Ben Chifley would have regarded as battlers need a train service because there is no other suitable service for them. It is crucially important for those people to have a train service. It is also a great way of getting around. A lot of tourists prefer to use the train, for the very reasons I have stated: you can get up and walk around, you see more and it is a far more relaxing and environmentally friendly way to travel than be cooped up in a bus or car. For all of those reasons, it is essential that we make the strongest possible representations to the New South Wales government to fully restore this train service.

I assume that most members of the Assembly have used the train service to go to Sydney. Growing up in Canberra, I regularly used it. It is not a lot quicker now than it was then. It is about four hours now, and it was five hours by diesel. If you went by steam train-I am old enough to remember them-you would leave Sydney at about 8 o'clock at night and get in at 5.00 in the morning, stopping at every conceivable station and watering point along the way. Nevertheless, I have always found train services most enjoyable and a wonderful form of transport.

I will let you into a little secret here. I can only remember three things from 1956, when I was four: moving in a big delivery truck, because we did not have a car, sitting up in the front with mum, dad and the driver; the 1956 Canberra flood, which went in the direction the lake is at present and covered that sort of area; and the Canberra to Sydney train, which I could quite clearly see go backwards and forwards at about 12.30.

My mother tells me I had an imaginary friend, because there were no other kids in the neighbourhood then-we were the second house. That was the train, and she said I called it Finney, so I suppose I had a great affinity with it. From my earliest childhood I can certainly remember it, and I have travelled on the service many times. It is a very pleasurable way of travelling.

We do need a train service. It is absolutely ludicrous that the New South Wales government is doing what it is doing. I have a great deal of admiration for a lot of things Bob Carr does-his law and order measures are eminently praiseworthy-but this is just crazy. He has arbitrarily got rid of this train service.

I, like Mrs Dunne, am amazed that Mr Whan, our new sitting local member over the border, has been quite incapable of doing anything about it and probably did not even know anything about it. If he is to earn his salt as a local member, he should make stronger representations on behalf of his constituency-especially the people of Queanbeyan, Bungendore and Tarago-than he is making at present. This is important for not only the people of the ACT but also our surrounding region.

I recall that Akister, a local member and minister in the Unsworth government who lost his seat in the 1988 election, was the minister at the time the train service to Cooma and Bombala was cancelled. That was not a very good call in the electorate. Mr Whan needs to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor, the Labor member before Peter Cochrane took his seat, and get cracking; represent the people of Queanbeyan and the region; and press his new boss, Mr Carr, to reactivate this essential train service.

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