Train Drivers Shortage
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Transport Services. Are approximately 30 train drivers retiring or resigning from CityRail each month? Did at least five drivers resign from CityRail's central depot to take up positions with freight rail companies in the past two months? Are other experienced and trainee CityRail drivers being poached by private rail companies that pay higher wages? Is this loss of drivers further exacerbating the shortage of drivers? Given this situation, can the Minister explain why CityRail recently cancelled a trainee driver class intake?
The Hon. Catherine Cusack: A good question.
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: What was it—a 19 per cent swing at a certain booth? We have not forgotten about that. I have said on many occasions—
But Opposition members are the product of that. I have said on many occasions that this driver shortage issue, which is a national problem, is serious. I have spoken to freight operators and to other State operational railways and they have told me that they also have problems with driver shortages. I know that the privately managed rail system in Victoria is experiencing similar problems to ours.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: So why did you cancel the intake?
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: If Opposition members let me finish answering the question they might well be enlightened.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: That will be a change.
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: It would be better than the performance of The Nationals at that booth in Dubbo during the by-election, which resulted in a swing of minus 22 per cent.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: I could use 28 per cent from the Labor Party.
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: It resulted in a swing of minus 22 per cent. The Nationals worked all day but they went backwards by 22 per cent.
The driver shortage is being experienced nationally. This Government is training a record numbers of train drivers and it is factoring in attrition rates. I have asked RailCorp management to continue to recruit until driver numbers stabilise. So there will be further recruitment as we go through to next year.