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Thursday, 7 February 2013
Page: 499

Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs) (09:45): I have spoken in this chamber before about the appalling state of some of the train stations in Geelong's north: North Shore and Corio stations in particular. I know that many people in Geelong feel as I do: that train travellers in the northern suburbs have been let down by the state government. They feel their stations are second-class, and I believe they are.

Corio Station is a disgrace, and there are no plans to have it improved despite the huge wave of public concern when I raised the issue here last year. North Shore Station is in a sense a bigger problem because it is the gateway to Geelong for interstate travellers on the Overland. On the train from Adelaide to Melbourne, North Shore is effectively Geelong's station. Again, it is hardly a welcoming site. It is barely a station—just a platform with a meagre shelter, without a phone, toilet or ticket booth. The safety of passengers leaving the train at North Shore is left in the hands of volunteers. While that is a wonderful reflection of our caring community, it is a shocking indictment on the state government that such a service has to be provided by volunteers.

This station is not staffed. This station is an eyesore and stands as one of the real problems of the northern suburbs. It is not just about commuting to Melbourne; it is also about the connection for people in North Shore and the other parts of North Geelong with the centre of Geelong itself.

In a letter to my office sent at the end of last month, the public transport minister of the state government, Terry Mulder, said:

The Coalition Government is aware of recent efforts to improve amenities at North Shore, however the Government has no plans or available funding to further upgrade the station.

If you look at that station today and you hear that comment, the contempt for Geelong is utterly breathtaking. I wrote to Mr Mulder on behalf of Bell Post Hill resident Linda Smith, who is frustrated by the poor-quality service of the expanded car park at North Geelong railway station. Mr Mulder's office could not even be bothered to get the station right such is their disdain for passenger facilities in Geelong's northern suburbs. Mrs Smith expressed her frustration that facilities in the northern suburbs were overlooked at the expense of other areas. She describes the unpaved area at the North Geelong station car park as a quagmire in winter and a dust bowl in summer. This is an easy fix and should be given prompt attention but it seems passenger safety and community amenity in the northern suburbs is being sacrificed by the state government for political expediency. At a time when passenger numbers on Geelong's services are increasing, we should be looking ahead at ways we can encourage train travel and ensure the comfort of passengers.

The federal government is investing $3.9 billion in the regional rail link to improve travel times between Melbourne and Geelong. It is about time the state government took its role more seriously and started investing in the stations of the north.