VICTORIA’S Youth Parliament has emphatically endorsed returning passenger trains to Mildura after being convinced of the need by a team of aspiring local leaders.
Run by the YMCA, the Youth Parliament program brings teams of young people to Parliament House for a “sitting week”, where they present Bills on topics relevant to young people.
The Mildura team’s Bill was to reinstate a train to connect with Melbourne through Maryborough.
It also included the introduction of a regional transport minister and a transport survey for regional Victoria, so the government can be held accountable on whether it is delivering what the community is asking for.
Aimee Ablett, 19, who is planning to study arts and law at the University of Melbourne next year, said the Bill passed with a strong majority.
Though initially worried the issue might be considered “too niche”, Ms Ablett said the team was met with a “passionate” response from those elsewhere in the state, many of whom were surprised there wasn’t a train.
“Young people were just kind of like, ‘Why don’t you have it?’,” she said.
“It was really good to get so much support on something we thought maybe just we cared about, but everybody cared about it.”
Ms Ablett said the lack of a train was a relevant issue for young people in Sunraysia.
“A big thing a lot of people are really passionate about is the environment – this would just be so beneficial, rather than catching a plane or driving a car,” she said.
“Even for safety on the roads, it’s such an important aspect.
“There are so many young people from our community that will go to Melbourne for university – all of my friends have – and they don’t always want to buy a car, to have that car in the city there’s really no point.
“Getting accessible transport back to visit their family and going back and forth is so difficult.”
Mildura Senior College student Trey Peirce, 16, said he had never ridden on a train.
He said the lack of a service from Mildura created a “massive disconnect”.
“There have been a lot of times I’ve had to go down to Melbourne for whatever reason and we don’t want to take the plane, so we have to drive for six hours, non stop,” Mr Peirce said.
“I’m quite tall, so I get very uncomfortable in the car, sitting there for six hours.
“Having the train it would just be completely different – you’d be much more comfortable, and way cheaper than a plane.”
Such was the team’s success in arguing for their Bill, it even found some unlikely support from those who were assigned to take a position against it.
“They literally came up to us after it and said ‘We didn’t really want to rebut it’,” Ms Ablett said.
The Bill will now get sent to the Youth Minister, who will pass it on to the minister holding the relevant portfolio, meaning its likely to land on the desk of Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan.