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Hansard Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Mr EMERSON (Indooroopilly—LNP) (10.04 pm): Tonight I wish to detail Queensland Rail’s disgraceful disregard for the safety of its passengers and a transport minister unwilling to take responsibility for her department. In August last year I wrote to Transport Minister Rachel Nolan raising concerns about passengers being injured at Indooroopilly Railway Station because of the 40-centimetre gap between the platform and the train. The letter followed the case of an 85-year-old woman, Hilda Brooks, who badly injured her legs while trying to board the train earlier that month. In another case that month, a 14-year-old disabled boy, Regan Hill, fell into the gap and, if it were not for a passing stranger pulling him up, who knows what tragic consequences could have resulted.

When I failed to receive a response from the minister to my letter, I raised the issue in parliament. In a speech on 2 September I said—

For the sake of the safety of passengers using Indooroopilly Railway Station, I call on the transport minister to urgently fix this problem.

Finally, on 22 September, the transport minister responded to my concerns, writing to me that nothing could be done about the gap and attributed it to the curvature of the track. Later that month, Queensland Rail executives also publicly denied anything could be done to fix the problem, again blaming the curved track.

In a series of speeches and questions, I continued to raise my concerns about the safety of passengers using the Indooroopilly Railway Station, the danger posed by this 40-centimetre gap and that people were continuing to be injured. On 25 February, the transport minister attacked me over this issue, telling parliament—

The member for Indooroopilly has run a campaign over a period of time now to argue that there is a problem with the gap between the platform and the train at the Indooroopilly Railway Station. The member for Indooroopilly has been told over and over again that that is ... inevitable ...

Well, late last month, the truth finally came out. And the truth was that, shortly before the injuries began occurring at Indooroopilly Railway Station, bungled re-sleepering work had raised the height of the track and created the 40-centimetre gap. Interim Queensland Rail CEO Paul Scurrah has now admitted QR staff knew in August last year that bungled maintenance work had created the 40-centimetre gap—that QR staff knew even when QR was claiming publicly that nothing could be done to fix the problem; that QR knew even when the minister was repeatedly claiming the gap was inevitable and attacking me in parliament for raising my concerns; and, most disgracefully, that QR knew of the bungled work creating the 40-centimetre gap even as passengers continued to be injured.

Earlier this month repair work was carried out at Indooroopilly Railway Station, lowering the track and closing the gap. And all we heard from Transport Minister Rachel Nolan was that the incident highlighted poor communication within QR. There has been no apology to Regan Hill or his family. There has been no apology to Hilda Brooks. What a disgraceful performance from Queensland Rail and the transport minister.