Armidale Vegetable Sowing Guide
This guide shows planting time periods that should allow you to get a crop in Armidale.

Follow up to: What should happen to the Northern Line – links and letter

As mentioned at the forum, here is a follow up with links to relevant groups and Mercurius’ action plan that was tabled at the meeting.

Action Plan suggested by Mercurius Goldstein of Glen Innes:
In anticipation of the considerable economic, transport, tourism and social benefits that would result from a restored, revitalised and/or re-purposed Armidale-Wallangarra railway corridor:

1) The NSW Government should commission a public feasibility study to be carried out by qualified civil engineers and transport consultants, investigating the transport potential of the Northern Rail line.

2) Our political representatives at Local and State government levels should co-operate and provide leadership in securing the funding for this feasibility study to be completed within the current NSW Parliament. Private consultants’ cost estimates indicate that study of the entire 200km Armidale-Wallangarra section could be completed for cost of no more than $150,000 (and perhaps as little as $40,000 for shorter sections) — with studies of smaller sections to cost proportionately lesser amounts.

3) Options to be investigated by the feasibility study should include upgrading the line to 21st century transportation standards, restoration of passenger and/or freight rail on existing alignments, tourist use by heritage rail groups, a rails-with-trail recreational project, and closure of the line with re-purposing as a recreational rail trail.

4) One of the terms of reference proposed for the feasibility study is that all options must encompass ongoing public ownership of the railway corridor, attendant yards and structures.

5) The feasibility study should result in fully-costed options with cost-benefit analyses for the consideration of affected communities, local government areas and citizens across NSW. The study should be informed by expertly-prepared evidence in the form of qualified engineering advice and transport studies — and not by sentiment or unqualified assertions regarding the suitability of the line for various purposes.

6) Following the feasibility study should occur a public consultation process through which the findings of the study can be communicated to the community and also alternative proposals and the views of all interest groups and stakeholders can be aired.

7) Following completion of the feasibility study and community consultation process, the NSW government and opposition parties should commit to deliver the preferred option of the affected communities and local government areas served by the rail line.

8) The above plan should be completed within the current term of the NSW Parliament and the timeline from commencement of the feasibility study to completion of the public consultation process should be of 6-12 months duration.

I suggest the above plan in the context of having been the most recent candidate for the Greens in the seat of Northern Tablelands at the March 2015 election. During that campaign, I promised to pursue the commissioning of a feasibility study for the Northern Railway Line within this term of Parliament. Through this forum and others I continue now to fulfil that promise.

I would also like to offer please the following reflections for the consideration of attendees at the Sustainable Living Armidale forum:

The NSW Government will not lend support to any proposals for the Northern Rail Line unless and until there has been a feasibility study and community consultation process. The sooner that process starts, the sooner we can begin to derive economic and social benefit from this public asset.

It is in my view completely unacceptable for the Northern Railway Line to remain unused. We as a community cannot and should not accept this status quo and we should put significant and sustained pressure on our political representatives to provide some vision and leadership regarding our transport, tourism and recreational needs in this region.

The NSW government should take seriously the needs of this community by commissioning the public feasibility study outlined above. The sum of $150,000 to fund a feasibility study is the very least the NSW government should now commit, as a mark of respect for the transport, business, tourism, employment, recreational and social needs of this community and as an acknowledgement of the serial failures of the last 25 years of governments in NSW to allow our community to derive benefits from the rail line.

The Local Councils of Armidale-Dumaresq, Guyra, Glen Innes-Severn and Tenterfield should also present a co-ordinated and united front in pursuing a regional tourism strategy that encompasses restored, revitalised and/or re-purposed use of the railway line. All these councils stand to benefit from the increased economic activity that would result and all should be regarded as stakeholders with a responsibility for representing their communities and contributing to the call for action by the NSW government.

There has at times been rancorous debate in the community about future uses of the rail line. This gives politicians an excuse to put this issue in the “too hard” basket and to prolong the 25 years of neglect that both Labor and Coalition governments have delivered us so far.

The best way for various interest groups to “deal themselves in” to the future of the railway line is to participate in the feasibility study and community consultation process. Unless our representatives hear a united call for a feasibility study from all stakeholders, they will too readily have an excuse to continue the do-nothing stance they have adopted for so long.

Further dispute and division at this time will only prolong government inaction. Nothing good will come from continued public argument, accusations and dispute amongst competing community groups.

Instead, it is time to turn up the heat on our political representatives. We should all now make it clear that our community deserves to benefit from the public asset in our midst, and that our political representatives have a responsibility to ensure the best use-case of the line becomes a reality — beginning with this first step of a feasibility study and community consultation process.

We should also put our local and state government representatives on notice; if we find ourselves still enduring this do-nothing status quo in 2,3,4 or more years hence, that we will hold them to account for a failure of responsibility, initiative and leadership.

Yours sincerely,

Mercurius Goldstein
Glen Innes

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