Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    State Opposition accused of negativism and scare mongering regarding operational and managerial changes to Westrail

    29/05/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today accused the State Opposition of negativism and scare mongering over its attitude towards on-going operational and managerial changes to Westrail.


    "The Government is examining all options for Westrail which has evolved from a stagnant, loss-making organisation into Australia's foremost railway," Mr Charlton said.


    He said the Government now had to make further decisions on the future direction of Westrail and he expected to report to Cabinet shortly on the results of an independent analysis of the organisation.


    "The Opposition philosophy is to sit on their hands and resist anything to do with change in case they upset somebody. It has always been their way to blindly oppose change," he said.


    "Despite being criticised by the Opposition at every turn, the Coalition has continued to make fundamental decisions which have allowed Westrail to produce its first operating profit in 117 years.


    "Those decisions have resulted in a 36 per cent reduction in bulk freight rates and a 25 per cent reduction in grain freight rates.


    "The Opposition wanted us to forsake those benefits."


    Mr Charlton said there were big changes to rail around Australia and around the world and Westrail was carrying out an independent assessment of its own operations against that backdrop.


    "Nationally, there is a program to open up the rail network to all private sector operators and Westrail has to know its own strengths and weaknesses ahead of that competiton," he said.


    "Had we listened to the Opposition nothing would have happened at Westrail and we would have been left with the same cumbersome, non-performing organisation which has burdened the taxpayers of Western Australia for 117 years.


    "Alannah MacTiernan and the Opposition fear change and resist any move which might modernise a Government organisation.


    "It is the same with the buses where Government initiatives have seen the private sector enter the public transport field and last year attract two million additional boardings, which was the first passenger increase in nine years.


    "The public should be extremely wary of this latest Opposition protest over the continuing changes at Westrail."


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