Letters to the editor

Lost quota has high cost

Most of my life I have been on the right side of the political spectrum, I am shocked by Liberal Party Senator Anne Ruston’s attitude regarding our hard-earned southern bluefin tuna quota.

Tuna is one of the main arteries and is the life blood of Port Lincoln.

The senator’s actions have cost millions of dollars in export, jobs and infrastructure spending, and will cost many more millions into the future for business.

If such attitude of confiscation of quota persists unchallenged, taking quota from South Australia’s commercial sector to prop up a losing Liberal Party in Victoria is at best not very wise and will have repercussions at the next Federal election.

Ruston treated the fishing industry with contempt, to persuade a few more votes in Victoria.

The senators actions have not just cost South Australians.

In a copy-cat scenario courtesy of Anne Ruston, the Western Australian government followed her lead and attempted to nationalise 1385 tonnes of lobster quota. Thank god unsuccessfully!

Her actions are becoming a liability for her party.

Think carefully when you vote in the upcoming election.

HAGEN STEHR AO

Port Lincoln

Where will rail go now?

Seemingly Viterra and Genesee and Wyoming Australia (GWA) are unable to agree on the freight costings for carting grain on Eyre Peninsula. 

This raises the question; if GWA subsequently fail to continue being the railroad system operator, will the entire infrastructure be reverted to the state?

In government hands, this might open an opportunity for an Australian consortium to take over.

Failing any Aussie interest, the network could be offered to a Middle Eastern, Chinese or Indian group wishing to establish themselves in carting the grain, much of which invariably ends up in those countries.

However for this to happen the government(s) must be willing to treat the railroad as a vital state asset with a focus on revitalising the entire system not destroying it.

Short sighted plans of ripping up tracks will not solve increased highway traffic.

Forward thinkers will agree that a dual rail track from Port Lincoln to Cummins would eliminate a huge amount of Port Lincoln arterial road and silo precinct congestion.

Should rail be taken out of the equation, rules will have to be implemented to reduce road train numbers within the Port Lincoln CBD.

If not, Liverpool and Porter streets will have motorists and businesses fuming.

DENNIS LIGHTFOOT

Lock

Rail days numbered

Following recent announcements, it appears the days of rail on Eyre Peninsula are well and truly numbered.

Grain storage and handling company Viterra and rail operator Genesee and Wyoming have indicated the rail haulage contract between the two companies will not be renewed.

As a result, all EP grain will be taken to port by road after May 31 this year.

The announcement has been brewing for a while, with the autonomous, narrow-gauge line falling victim to a lack of investment over many years, slowly becoming uncompetitive with the flexibility of larger truck configurations.

GWA leased and took responsibility for the line many years ago, and since then it has contracted to what it is now, with Viterra being its only customer.

At its longest the line extended from Port Lincoln to Cummins, to Thevenard and Penong, and from Buckleboo.

A spur line was also laid from Yeelanna to Mt Hope.

In recent years the Port Lincoln line has been running to both Wudinna and Kimba, with grain on these lines heading to Port Lincoln for export.

Only one third of the EP grain crop has found its way onto rail, with two thirds already getting to port by road.

Make no mistake, the crop will be delivered to the market, rail or no rail.

The focus is now shifting from the rail line itself, to the need for additional spending on roads and related infrastructure.

Estimates vary, but Viterra itself is suggesting an extra two trucks an hour on our roads, throughout the year.

There are several stakeholders at the table, with local, state and federal governments all being asked to consider, at relatively short notice, funding streams for our roads.

This issue has consumed much of my time and many others over the past 12 months.

There is always a human side to such decisions, and unfortunately 30 to 40 jobs will be lost to the area following the rail closure.

On the flipside, there will certainly be extra work for our truckers.

After playing a critical role in the settlement, transport, communication and even socialisation of the Eyre Peninsula for more than 100 years, I for one will be sad to see the trains go.

PETER TRELOAR

Member for Flinders

Letters to the editor

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