What’s in a name? History for starters! Recently in the NSW Legislative Assembly, I raised a matter of great concern to my constituents in the suburb of Flinders – the proposed re-naming of their new train station.
On February 18, with no public consultation at all, the Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward MP, announced that the NSW Government would be renaming the new station Shell Cove.
This is despite everyone consistently referring to the new station as Flinders, including the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian MP, since it was first identified as an infrastructure need for a growing Shellharbour City in 2001.
Labor decided to build the new Flinders Station mainly because the cost-benefit analysis concluded that to upgrade the Dunmore Station would be far too costly.
Indeed, Mr Ward, as a Liberal candidate, had to be dragged kicking and screaming to support the construction of the new Flinders Station just weeks before March 2011 polling day.
I was very happy with this commitment because it meant bipartisan political support to construct the new Flinders Station regardless of the election result.
I have been closely monitoring the project’s progress since the 2011 election. I have regularly asked questions of the Minister.
Last November, the Minister revealed to me that the project had been delayed by 12 months because planning documents (which were only just released last week) were not available to start public consultations.
Strangely, the Minister won’t even admit what the final costs of the new Flinders Station will actually be. Perhaps we should stay tuned for a budget blow-out.
None of this, however, explains the sudden need to rename the new Flinders Station without public consultation.
Another reason to keep the Flinders name in the station is in recognition of Australia’s early settler history. The population catchment of the new station is named after the distinguished navigator and cartographer, Matthew Flinders.
If it is good enough for us to name a mountain range, a national university, and seat in the House of Representatives after Flinders; surely it is also good enough that his name adorn this new train station?
As a conservative, I am surprised that Mr Ward, for whom I have a generally high regard and overall good working relationship, would seek to trash local Australian history so callously.
Just weeks ago, on the eve of Australia Day, he was publicly admonishing a group for suggesting changes to the Australian flag!
Mr Ward even concedes that: ‘‘The reality is that the location (for the new station) hasn’t changed.’’ Indeed.
The historic name of Flinders, in recognition of a distinguished Australian explorer, must be retained in the title of the new Flinders Station.
I have started a community petition in Flinders to ensure this happens.
Anna Watson is the State Member for Shellharbour.