Oak Flats Railway Station



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SpeakersSaliba Ms Marianne
BusinessPrivate Members Statements


    OAK FLATS RAILWAY STATION

Page: 864

    Ms SALIBA (Illawarra) [6.05 p.m.]: I draw to the attention of the House a matter of concern to people who live in my community of Oak Flats. I refer to the proposed name change of the Oak Flats railway station. I found out about this proposal by reading an article in a newspaper. The article stated that the Shellharbour City Council proposes to change the name of Oak Flats railway station to the Shellharbour City railway station when the new bus-rail interchange is completed at some time in the future. Oak Flats railway station has been in existence for many years, and it has been the local railway station for most of the people who live in Oak Flats, Warilla, Mount Warrigal, Lake Illawarra and the surrounding areas of my electorate. It was my local railway station when I was growing up and I took many a train ride from Oak Flats to Sydney. I feel strongly that retaining the name of Oak Flats is an important issue for the people of my community.

    Oak Flats is a strong community with a fighting spirit. To let the House know exactly what I mean, I refer to an event that happened approximately two years ago. All the commercial banks pulled out of Oak Flats but the community rallied together and formed a community bank modelled on the Bendigo community bank. We now have our own Oak Flats community bank. The Oak Flats community fights hard for everything it achieves. Members of the community stick together, stand up for their rights and they make sure that their voice is heard. Last Saturday morning I held a public meeting. I informed the community by newspaper and radio announcements that I would be out in the street with a petition that would be presented to the Shellharbour City Council and to the Minister for Transport, calling on the council to reject the change of name from "Oak Flats" to "Shellharbour City". In a two-hour period, almost 300 people came out specifically to sign the petition.

    Mr Fraser: Name them.

    Ms SALIBA: I have all the names on paper. They made it clear to me that they do not support the proposal to change the name of the station. It is important to note that there is already a station at Dunmore that has "Dunmore" and the name "Shellharbour" in brackets underneath, and that station is listed in the train timetable. It would be confusing to have another train station with the name "Shellharbour City" on it. I understand the argument advanced by the councillors. They want to put Shellharbour on the map, so to speak, and have that name registered in a train timetable. But I point out to the councillors that if people know about some of the beautiful tourist attractions such as the shopping and the beautiful brand new city centre at Shellharbour City, they will also know how to get there.

    Anyone wanting to go to those tourist attractions in Shellharbour would find out how to get there. The challenge for Shellharbour council is to find better ways of promoting the city. Council could spend more money on tourism and on promoting the Shellharbour city area. That would be more beneficial than putting Shellharbour city on the train timetable. It would be a costly exercise for the New South Wales Government to put Shellharbour on the train timetable and to install ticketing machines and computers at train stations. A brand new timetable is being released in April. If Shellharbour is put on the train timetable it will mean that the timetable to which I have referred will need to be changed.

    All these issues must be considered. I have written to the Minister for Transport and to Shellharbour City Council and I have advised them that I object to this. I am sure that the Minister for Transport will listen to my views and the views of my community. The Oak Flats Chamber of Commerce has worked hard to ensure that Oak Flats is a thriving community. Mrs Jenny Butler, President of Oak Flats Chamber of Commerce, and Mr Geoff Egan were instrumental in setting up the community bank and ensuring that the voice of Oak Flats is always heard. Mrs Joanna Schmidt from Oak Flats Progress Association was responsible for presenting a petition to ensure that council understood all these concerns. [Time expired.]