Labor on Tier 3 mission

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

New shadow transport minister Rita Saffioti has wasted little time in delving into the Tier 3 saga, this week meeting Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance representatives in Quairading to discuss potential options for growers in affected areas.

Last year, railway operator Brookfield closed all Tier 3 lines, leaving many Wheatbelt growers with no other option than to cart their grain to port on unsafe roads.

WRRA president Greg Richards and other group members took Ms Saffioti on a tour of the closed rail lines and a $10 million state-of-the-art rapid rail grain loading facility in Quairading.

The facility has been out of operation since the lines were closed.

After the tour, Ms Saffioti accused the State Government of failing the Wheatbelt community.

She said the Labor Party would work with the community to determine a policy for Tier 3 lines in the lead-up to the next State Election in March 2017.

Ms Saffioti said she would also continue the work of her predecessor, Ken Travers, who resigned from the shadow cabinet in June.

Furthermore, Ms Saffioti said she would discuss the issues with the shires of Quairading and Bruce Rock, as well as other interested parties throughout the Wheatbelt.

"We will continue to work closely with the community over these issues and provide a real alternative to what the Wheatbelt has been dealt with by the Liberal-National Government," she said.

"The most disappointing aspect has been the fact The Nationals failed to stand up for Wheatbelt farmers on the closure of the Tier 3 rail lines.

"I am looking forward to working with my colleague, Darren West, the Member for Agricultural Region, to ensure road safety is paramount in our plans for the Wheatbelt.

"The fact remains that the Wheatbelt road fatality rate is 11 times the metropolitan rate."

Mr Richards said he felt Ms Saffioti was genuine in her commitment to help reopen the lines.

"To have these Tier 3 lines and expensive rail infrastructure not being used is an incredible waste of money," he said.

"I am led to believe that CBH would be able reopen the lines if the State Government would underwrite flood insurance and pay for the railway bridge restoration in York."

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