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Mayoral candidates outline stance on Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line

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The state government’s announcement that it will commit almost $3 billion to deliver Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line has drawn a mixed reaction from the candidates to become the next mayor of the Sunshine Coast.

Following the announcement, Sunshine Coast News asked each of the six candidates to share their views on the funding pledge, which would see a 19km dual track built from Beerwah to Caloundra potentially by 2032, but leaves delivery of further stages to Birtinya and Maroochydore up in the air.

Scroll down to read the candidates’ comments

Stage 1 will now cost an estimated $5.5 billion to $7 billion and is dependent on matched funding from the federal government, which will await a business case assessment from Infrastructure Australia.

The project was initially proposed as a 37km dual line from Beerwah to Maroochydore that would cater for a rapidly growing population in time for the 2032 Olympics.

What the candidates say (in alphabetical order)

Michael Burgess

“The Maroochydore rail line is officially dead, let’s concentrate on duplication to Nambour.

Michael Burgess.

“And the new promise of a line to Caloundra should be treated with a little scepticism.

“For four years, I have maintained that the Beerwah to Maroochydore line will not be built because the cost is at least three times the government estimate.

“All the other mayoral candidates have made achieving this project the centrepiece of their campaign without seeming to understand the real cost or the transport potential it offered.

“It wasn’t that I had some magic ball, it was simply asking a few railway-building people for an approximate cost per kilometre and then multiplying it.

“And here’s the kicker: the line to Caloundra is unlikely to proceed because the market of daily traveller is likely to be about 4000 so Infrastructure Australia won’t find that sufficient to justify the cost.”

Rosanna Natoli

“The excuses from the state government must stop. They have funded Cross River Rail 100 per cent and yet we, on the Sunshine Coast, receive just enough funding to get the train to Caloundra – this is a quarter of the project length, and only a 50 per cent funding commitment.

Rosanna Natoli.

“While it is great news to have it committed, and I thank the Premier for remembering where Caloundra is, what about the rest of the region? I’m calling on Steven Miles to fund it to Maroochydore, in time for 2032. Otherwise, where is our legacy benefit from the Games?

“If the passenger rail only goes to Caloundra, heaven help anyone trying to drive to the station, because the roads will be even more congested than they are now.

“The venues and athletes’ village are not on this section of the rail line. Will the state now also fund the bus network we will need to move everyone around for the Games?”

Jason O’Pray

No response received.

Wayne Parcell

“As the new mayor of the Sunshine Coast, I would see this as beginning the dialogue with the state and the Commonwealth to set down a firm timeline for funding and delivery of Stage 1 of this project.

Wayne Parcell.

“Importantly, this will not distract us from the pressing priority of public transport reform for the Sunshine Coast region that is desperately needed right now to get people moving and keep the economy growing.

“As mayor, I will advocate that the Department of Transport and Main Roads is actively engaged with the community in defining and refining its Sunshine Coast Public Transport strategy.

“A static strategy is unacceptable. A public transport strategy for the future must be dynamic and innovative.”

Ashley Robinson

“The case for this important piece of transport infrastructure speaks for itself.

Ashley Robinson.

“Ours is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and a railway service like this will not only make it easy for tourists to visit us, it will also allow people in areas like Aura to access the rest of the Sunshine Coast and accelerate the delivery of affordable housing within our region.

“For decades we’ve missed out on our fair share of infrastructure funding because we’ve been considered to be a conservative stronghold. That’s certainly no longer the case and I’m expecting our federal Liberal Party representatives to strongly lobby for this commitment to be matched.

“On past performances I’m not particularly optimistic – but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m wrong.”

Min Swan

“This is a step in the right direction. However, the Sunshine Coast has been waiting 30 years for rail to Maroochydore and after a number of announcements of similar nature, albeit not to the scale now being offered, residents could be forgiven for their scepticism, especially with additional funding of $1.1 billion from the federal government needed before there is an actual green light.

Min Swan.

“As a progressive mayor, I will always adopt a positive approach and as part of my Team Sunshine Coast philosophy I will work actively to secure the federal funding and get us a start date to celebrate.

“We should consider our options, and possibly new technologies, for better connection on the Sunshine Coast that will work in the short, medium and long-term.

“I will do everything in my power to seek a solution to safe, accessible, cost-effective public transport that actually connects the entire Sunshine Coast.”

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor at Sunshine Coast News via news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au. You must include your name and suburb.

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