The recent National Conference held at Melbourne University on May 29 & 30 was a lively affair. Opened by Barry Jones, the Victorian Shadow Minister for Transport, and also addressed by Doug Hill, Senior Project Officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the debate was wide ranging and enthusiastic. Two workshop sessions were held on the Sunday morning and a final plenary session brought everyone together for a campaign planning session.
The major decisions arising from the Conference were that:-
NATIONAL PUBLIC TRANSPORT WEEK - August 1 - 7
The major theme of this national activity is "Federal funds for public transport NOW". The recent Lynch mini-budget provided for no increase in public transport funding (an effective reduction with current high inflation) but increased road spending by $35.8m. With only $45m allocated for public transport for all six states, but a total of $453.8m for roads, we have our work cut out to "out-lobby" the roads lobby.
Most people left the National Conference feeling that activities this year would be a "curtain raiser" for next year's Federal Budget, when we should have National Action for Public Transport fully operational - by March, 1977.
Activities discussed for NSW so far include:-
The recent announcement of an enquiry into Federal Government transport operations by land, sea and air must leave us in no doubt about the fight we have on our hands. Mr Nixon, the Federal minister, appointed a panel of three senior businessmen (from B.H.P., Brambles, and Arthur Anderson & Co - import/ export). This is obviously a prelude to restructuring transport operations to suit big business interests. Coupled with kites flown by the Prime Minister about the "illegality" of railway agreements made by the Whitlam Government with S.A. and Tasmania, these recent developments should be sending collective shivers down our spines.
TALKS WITH MR REIHER:
At his invitation we recently met Mr Alan Reiher, Chief Commissioner of the PTC. While the talks were exploratory, and mainly raised the broader issues, it is certainly a new development for us to be officially recognised by the PTC. Mr Reiher has agreed to a further meeting in a couple of months.
WE SEE THE NEW MINISTER:
Three members met Peter Cox, the new minister, on Thursday 17th June. This is our first meeting with him since the election. The meeting was friendly and Mr Cox was very open with us about the matters under discussion. However we hope that at future meetings the level of debate about broader issues, such as public participation in transport policy making, urban planning, and energy conservation, can be raised.
We welcome his flexible approach to the setting up of the Central Commuter Council. We believe that this will be a vital tool in getting much greater public involvement in transport decision-making at a high level. Initially the Commuter Council will be appointed by the minister for 12 months (without legislation). There will be approximately 8 members (the SPTC will have one delegate and one alternate delegate) to commence the Council's activities, but this number will be expanded later. The Commuter Council will be serviced by an officer from the Ministry, and will receive secretarial assistance and office accommodation.
Other matters raised were: a moratorium on service cuts; the structure of the PTC; the Botany Bay and Greenacre terminal problems; the future of the Sandy Hollow - Maryvale Railway; and the National Public Transport Week (the minister has agreed to cooperate with us in this and will discuss proposals for the PTC's involvement and assistance).
NEXT GENERAL MEETING:
The next general meeting will be held on - Monday 5th July at - 5.30pm at - The NSW Environment Centre, 1st floor, 263 Broadway (nr Grace Bros). Please make a special effort to attend, as the NATIONAL PUBLIC TRANSPORT WEEK campaign will be a major item on the agenda.
are urgently needed. As our costs are rising, membership fees will probably have to go up too. Anyone joining now gets the benefit of a cheaper rate SO WHY NOT. JOIN A NEW MEMBER TODAY!