Action the destination

Jennifer Podesta listens to Bill Traill at a meeting on rail services yesterday. Picture: JOHN RUSSELLLABOR candidate for Benambra Jennifer Podesta expects to collect thousands of signatures for her North East Rail Service petition launched yesterday.
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Ms Podesta said the disruption to the rail services between Southern Cross, Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga was the No.1 issue raised by those in her electorate.

“There seems to be a lot of buck-passing between the state and federal government and a denial of res- ponsibility,” she said.

The petition will be tabled in Parliament after the November 29 election and will call on the transport minister of the day to instruct the Australian Rail Track Corporation to provide a definitive end date for the completion of the North East Track Revitalisation Project and the Ballast Rehabilitation Program.

“This (track upgrade) work originated as a project that suggested a finish date and now it’s an ongoing program,” Ms Podesta said.

“We need to have a confirmed date so this doesn’t happen again.

“We also need a commitment from the state government to upgrade the rolling stock to the VLocity trains that run on other regional lines across the state.”

Ms Podesta, who travels frequently on the train herself, will be asking commuters to put their name to the petition.

Six signatures were collected during Ms Podesta’s first “Tuesday chats” session yesterday.

Each Tuesday during this month election issues will be discussed from 12.30pm at Ms Podesta’s new campaign office at Beechworth Road, Wodonga.

Bill Traill, convenor of the Border Rail Action Group, attended yesterday’s chat and showed his support of the petition.

“We need to keep the pressure on,” he said.

The Border Rail Action Group will host a public meeting to discuss the rail service on October 22.

The meeting at Elgin’s Wodonga will be held between 5.30pm and 7pm.

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Rhys sees no joy in fare cop

Rhys Wilton, Jade Heeman and Coby Wilton, 7 months, at the Olive Street taxi rank yesterday. The family fears a price rise would mean they would be forced to reassess their taxi use. Picture: JOHN RUSSELLA LAVINGTON man fears a review of taxi fares in NSW that is expected to recommend a price rise will make it tougher for him and his family.
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Rhys Wilton said he relied on taxis up to three times a week to travel to and from Albury and prices as they stood were reasonable.

“We catch taxis all the time because they are quicker and more convenient over other types of transport,” he said.

“If they put the prices up, it would definitely impact on us — we would have to rely on buses a lot more.”

The meter starts at $4.10 for a standard fare in Albury and rises by $2.26 a kilometre for the first 12kilometres.

The price then jumps $3.31 a kilometre.

In Wodonga, the starting price is 40cents cheaper at $3.70 and rises almost $1.90 a kilometre when travelling faster than 21km/h and $0.67 a minute if the speed is less than 21km/h.

“If we are going to Wodonga, we usually order a Wodonga taxi because it is cheaper, but if Albury was cheaper we would go with them,” Mr Wilton said.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s annual review considers the input of drivers, operators and passengers as it considers its recommendation for a maximum fare.

Tribunal chairman Dr Peter Boxall said it was vital to hear from everyone because often there were fewer options in regional areas.

“We need to understand whether the service and fares are meeting communities’ needs, or if changes should be made,” Dr Boxall said.

“We aim to make it easy for people to catch a taxi and taxis to operate.

“Operators need to cover their costs and make a decent living, while fares should be affordable enough to attract passengers.”

Last year’s review led to a fare rise of 2.5per cent from July 1 this year.

Albury Radio Taxis general manager Tim O’Dea said taxis played a major role in Albury.

“There is no one else who you can get on the phone and call who will come and get you at any hour of the day,” he said.

“There hadn’t been price rises here for some years and only recently was there an increase for the first time in some time, so I think the fares are reasonable.”

The survey is open for comment until November 18 and people are encouraged to take part online at ipart.nsw.gov.au/Home/Taxi_Survey.

A draft report will be released in April next year.

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Case for Logic must be made

RAIL campaigner Bill Traill made the point in The Border Mail letters yesterday that a freight rail hub at Wodonga Council’s Logic estate would threaten the sustainability of the existing hub at Ettamogah, while at the same time costing taxpayers a bundle.
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Today, member for Farrer Sussan Ley becomes the latest to oppose a rail hub at the Logic estate near Barnawartha, backing her Victorian parliamentary colleague, the member for Benambra, Bill Tilley, who said at the weekend he couldn’t blindly support a Logic hub without seeing a feasibility study on the plan.

Ms Ley said while there shouldn’t be barriers to legitimate competition, the question was whether a second rail hub performing the same functions as the one at Ettamogah should receive taxpayer money.

We also believe that question should be answered.

The Wodonga Council has been keen on a Logic hub ever since the precinct was created in the mid 2000s and the then Victorian government at the time offered $4million for the project.

With a state election next month and a feeling a bigger “carrot” might be announced, the question remains: Could the money be better spent elsewhere?

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Mother had a black eye

MANDY Martyn will return to court later this month to contest charges of assaulting her mother, Maureen Martyn.
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It is alleged Martyn left her mother, who was in remission following cancer treatment, with a black eye after arguing with her the morning of April 8 this year.

Benalla Magistrates Court was told yesterday that Martyn had stayed the night at her mother’s Kiewa house when, at 6.45am, she started yelling about “anything and everything”.

Mrs Martyn had told police she wanted to go with Martyn and her son to Albury that morning but her daughter told her, “You stay home, you black c—”, and then kicked her twice.

She then alleged Martyn continued verbally abusing and poking her and that, when she pushed her daughter’s hand away, she accidentally clipped her mouth.

Martyn then allegedly screamed and punched her and continued kicking and punching her after she fell to the ground.

Police told the court Martyn was shown images of her mother’s injuries during her interview, to which she responded: “That’s a good punch”.

Magistrate John O’Callaghan extended Martyn’s bail and ordered her to reappear before Wodonga Magistrates Court on October 28.

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Pet’s Place celebrates first year

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First birthday: Katie Taylor with Tara, Lyn Zboril with Diesel and Samantha Hicks with Kimba.

BALLARAT’S pet adoption paradise celebrated its first birthday with dog-friendly birthday cake.

The RSPCA Pet’s Place is a one-stop shop with pet adoption, retail, a grooming salon and vet service.

Assistant manager Lyn Zboril said it was just a happy place.

“Everyone that comes in loves animals and we love animals, so we all get along – it’s lovely,” she said.

She said the team was made up of about 30 volunteers and a small team of professional animal carers, who all play a vital role in Pet’s Place.

Carol Glazner adopted Diesel on Valentines Day, after her husband had passed away in February.

“I’d arranged to buy a dog in Wangaratta, so I went into Pet’s Place to buy some toys before he arrived,” Ms Glazner said.

“A lady pulled up and I saw Diesel and he was available for adoption, so I walked back in and adopted him.”

Lizzie Morgan was also going through a tough time, and had visited Pet’s Place about six times looking for the perfect pet to adopt.

“I saw online on the Friday they had an American bulldog and thought ‘what’s that?’, as they didn’t have a photo,” Ms Morgan said.

“I came in and he was on hold, but I couldn’t leave as he kept crying when I tried.”

Ms Morgan was there for about an hour, and the person cancelled on the dog’s adoption, so she adopted him that day.

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