Rail strike a symptom of sick policies

Labor’s long-running contempt for the bush is hurting rural services, workers and families with today’s North West corridor Aurizon workers’ strike an ongoing side effect of short-sighted rail policy, State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said.

On a day that Katter’s Australian Party MPs are devoting to advancing the Inland Rail project during a strategic meeting in Pittsworth, Aurizon workers from Mount Isa to Townsville have walked off the job in a dispute for better pay and conditions.

Mr Katter said strikes, job losses and the abandonment of rail freight in favour of road had been commonplace across the state’s commercial rail freight network since the Bligh Government sold off QR National in 2010.

In the past decade rail employees in places like Charters Towers, Hughenden and Cloncurry have lost their jobs, with the closure of Hughenden’s Operational Services Depot in 2016 one of the biggest hits to the North West.

The Mount Isa-based MP said it was disturbing to hear in media reports that morale among the Aurizon workforce was at an “all time low”, according to RTBU Northern District Organiser Les Moffitt.

“These workers literally keep our state moving, and the fact that the State Government and Aurizon will not recognise and adequately invest in rail infrastructure and give this industry a fair go is a true point of concern for all of us in the
North,” he said.

“While they are more than happy to accept the mining royalties and other industry benefits the North West produces, when it comes to addressing this issue Brisbane just claims it is not their problems – and that is because they have made it
so.”

The KAP have long demanded that the State Government’s pricing on rail, water and power be reassessed to enable industry, rather than pilfer it.

Mr Katter said improving the state’s rail freight network was one of his main priorities in 2019.

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