By Chantel Cotterell
Sitting in the public gallery, awaiting the debate on the People’s Petition to make Redfern station accessible, I had hope that perhaps there would be movement (at the station, for the word had passed around) on this community need; a community need that has remained constant in Redfern over the last twenty years, through the demographic shifts and new developments.
I still had hope after Independent MP for Sydney, Clover Moore, who had to step down following her recent re-election to the mayoralty of the City of Sydney, led the debate. Ticking off the benefits an upgrade would bring, including providing relief to other stations on the City Circle line and making the station an option for people with access needs, Moore called on the NSW Government to install lifts on platforms 11 and 12.
“The need for equitable access to Redfern station is urgent. It should be included in the first round of upgrades under the Transport Access Program”, Moore stated.
Shortly thereafter, hope was quickly replaced in the public gallery with disappointment, as politician after politician from the major political parties politicised this important community need. I imagine the 10,000 plus people who signed the petition did not put their names to the campaign to hear the debate reduced to political point scoring over previous governments’ inaction; rather, I daresay, they wanted to hear how the government of the day was going to ‘get on with the job’ and take action.
The Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, acknowledged Redfern’s unofficial position on the City Circle line, referring to the high number of commuters who access it daily, yet stopped short of committing to an upgrade. She indicated that an upgrade would be too complex and costly, so the government was still “reviewing” what to do with Redfern station. Basically, this meant Redfern will not be benefiting from the updates under the Transport Access Program.
Greens MP, Jamie Parker, pushed the government for a review date, “Let us look at a timeline. Will it be this year, next year, or the year after? The community needs an assurance that there will be progress on the matter”.
Post-debate, the NSW Government released its Draft Transport Master Plan, flagging major interchanges, including Redfern as receiving potential updates. Of Redfern, the Master Plan notes: “A comprehensive and multi-modal upgrade would address station access and connectivity issues, including access within and to the station, safe and convenient interchange with bus, pedestrian and cycle routes, and accommodating a corridor for expansion of the CBD rail network”. No timeframe was given. We wait, still.
* Views expressed are of the individual, not necessarily Lift Redfern. To read the statement released by the Lift Redfern Coordination Group/Committee prior to the debate, visit here.
Originally published in Inner Sydney Voice, Issue 116, Spring 2012