To a chorus of toots, NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon and Ballina candidate John Bailey launched The Greens policy to shift freight transport back to rail and get heavy trucks off the Pacific Highway. The location for the launch was, appropriately, the Pacific Highway, at the junction of Kerr Street in Ballina, and there were no shortage of B-Doubles roaring by.
Local lobby group TOOT joined in the launch, as did Ballina Councillor John Felsch, who just happened to be driving past.
The use of trucks for freight is counter-productive to global warming, the price of oil and population growth, said John Bailey over the roar of traffic. Big freight trucks are clogging up our roads, ploughing through our communities, polluting our air and causing accidents on the North Coast. Meanwhile rural rail lines are decaying under our noses.
TOOT campaigner Karen Kolbe couldnt agree more, and despite the reopening of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line being ignored in the recent Far North Coast Regional Strategy, she says they will continue to campaign.
We remain undaunted, she said over a chorus of tooting. And the community support says it all. People want their trains back.
The Greens are committed to phasing out B-Doubles on NSW roads by 2011, extending and improving rail infrastructure and services to take more freight, putting an end to heavy freight truck subsidies, and reopening disused rail branch lines.
Ms Rhiannon said The Greens want to make transporting freight safer and more environmentally sustainable.
Moving freight by rail is the cleaner, greener and safer option, said Ms Rhiannon. Premier Iemma must rise to the challenge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and restore the rural rail network in NSW.
Meanwhile Lee Rhiannon and Lismore Greens candidate Andy Gough will be visiting Kyogle today, Thursday, to talk to locals about the proposal to open the Summerland Way to B-doubles and the impact this might have upon the town.
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