Brian Langlands with his disabled son, Richard Kramer, at the bottom of the stair access to Unanderra railway station. Picture: KIRK GILMOURThe renewed campaign for disabled access at Unanderra railway station has reached NSW Parliament, with a heated debate on who is to blame for decades of inaction.
Unions and community groups joined disability organisations last week in a renewed push to have easy access lifts installed at the station, lifts that were promised by the Labor government in 2009 as part of an $11 million upgrade.
Unanderra out of step for 20 years
Presenting a notice of motion on the issue, Wollongong MP Noreen Hay argued that before the 2011 election, the Liberal candidate for Wollongong and several opposition frontbenchers “came in their droves and promised that if they were elected those lifts would be installed”.
Ms Hay said the reason the lifts were not installed before 2011 was because RailCorp had found “some kind of mechanical or electrical problems underground”.
“RailCorp then put up a notice … stating that it had come across problems, that the patience of the community was required and appreciated, and that once the issues were rectified the second part of the easy access upgrade would proceed.
“In the interim an election occurred,” Ms Hay said.
“I had lobbied, and indeed on occasion had to fight inside my own government, to achieve the $11.4 million budgeted.”
Ms Hay took aim at Kiama MP Gareth Ward, whom she labelled “the now member for everywhere and everything”, accusing him of taking money from Unanderra station for the $39 million allocated for a new station at Flinders in his electorate.
Mr Ward said “people shouldn’t blame us because something wasn’t done when they were in government and when they said it would”.
“I am elected to look after the people of Kiama. I am not elected to go around mopping up Noreen’s mess,” he said after the debate.
“Of course I am concerned where there is inequality and I have made representations to the Transport Minister because I believe Unanderra should be a priority … I am just sorry the job wasn’t done when Labor was in government.
“They failed with the Oak Flats station car park and we are fixing that, but there are lots of things I would like to see happen but we only have so much money. There is a $770 million transport access program and that will see funds allocated on the basis of need.”
Ms Hay lodged a petition carrying 10,000 signatures in May calling for the lifts to be installed.
She said she was looking forward to seeing the issue debated on September 20.
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