Sunshine Coast MP declares opposition to Council’s light rail and urges local residents to get involved
Light rail would have disastrous consequences for the lifestyle in our region’s famous coastal strip according to Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace as he declared his opposition to any Commonwealth funding for the project today. Mr Wallace urged Sunshine Coast residents to get involved and have their say on the local Council’s Mass Transit Consultation before the deadline of 22 June 2021.
Mr Wallace said no one could deny that public transport on the Sunshine Coast is in a parlous state.
“Thanks to decades of neglect from successive Queensland Labor state governments our bus service is woefully inadequate, while our century old single-track rail line does not come within 20km of the Coast’s major population centres. The extra 180,000 people which this State Labor Government want to bring to our community in the coming years will only make this problem worse, and I applaud Sunshine Coast Council for stepping up and trying to plan ahead for this nightmare scenario.” Mr Wallace said.
“However, in my view light rail could not be more inappropriate for our community. It would remove a lane each way for cars on the already congested Nicklin Way, Brisbane Rd and Alexandra Parade and worsen traffic along the Coast. It would provide little benefit for the majority of our community not living on the Coastal strip, and would open the door to significantly higher density apartment blocks along the Coast, bringing up to five times the existing number of residents, and just as many new cars, to the area around Caloundra, Wurtulla, Warana, Kawana, Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headlands.” he said.
Though five options are being considered under Sunshine Coast Council’s Mass Transit Options Analysis, the Council’s previously disclosed preferred mass transit solution is a $1.5 billion proposal for light rail. The Council’s light rail would eventually run from Caloundra along Nicklin Way through Kawana and then along Alexandra Parade, finishing after 22 kilometres in the new Maroochydore City Centre. The proposed first stage would cover the segment of this corridor from Maroochydore to Birtinya.
“The Sunshine Coast is not like Australia’s major capital cities. It has a widely dispersed population and no central CBD. Our community requires a significantly upgraded road and public transport network across the entire region which benefits all local residents, not a narrow strip of light rail stations that most would need to drive to get to.” Mr Wallace said.
Council’s design for light rail includes proposals to significantly increase the permitted density of residences along the coastline between Caloundra and Maroochydore. This would involve the construction of apartment blocks of four or more stories tall, and local campaign groups suggest could increase the number of dwellings in the area by at least a factor of five.
“Our community is differentiated from others like the Gold Coast by its low density, natural coastline and family friendly living. This wall of apartment blocks, combined with the necessary heavy fixed power lines, the crawling traffic and the screeching metal tracks, would be a catastrophe for the Sunshine Coast’s renowned way of life.” he said.
“I want to make it very clear that as the local Federal Member for the region most significantly impacted by this proposal, I strongly oppose light rail on the Sunshine Coast and I have made these views known to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer. I have requested that, if asked, the Commonwealth Government provide no funding for the construction of light rail between Caloundra and Maroochydore.”
Local residents can have their say on the Sunshine Coast Council’s Mass Transit Options Analysis by visiting Have your say (sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au) and filling in an online survey. The deadline for submissions is 22 June 2021.
“Instead of light rail, I believe the right public transport solution for our community is the construction of a new faster rail line along the already reserved CAMCOS land corridor through the Coast’s major population centres, from Beerwah to Caloundra, Kawana and Maroochydore. Combined with improved bus services connecting these stations to the rest of our community, this solution would create a better connected Sunshine Coast, bringing new investment and jobs growth to our region.” Mr Wallace said.
“Unfortunately, this transport solution was not included by Sunshine Coast Council as one of their five options for consultation. However, all the same, I will be making a submission to the Council’s consultation making my views clearly known, and I would encourage all Sunshine Coast residents to do the same today!” he said.
“If you don’t make your views known clearly to Council, you can’t complain if Council tries to foist their preferred model onto our community. It’s time to speak up, if you haven’t already, and make your views heard.” Mr Wallace added.
More information on the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Engagement Process can be found at Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Engagement Process | Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Local residents can also sign Mr Wallace’s petition in favour of faster rail on the Sunshine Coast at www.andrewwallacemp.com.au/heavyrail.