Editorial December 7 2017

The NSW Government’s role in the Gong Shuttle should never be forgotten.

We should never forget Transport Minister Andrew Constance. out of the blue, announced it would be bringing to an end the free aspect of the Gong Shuttle in January 2017. No consultation whatsoever with the key stakeholders in this region.

The Member for Bega (lampooned in this cartoon from Paul Dorin) threw the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward under the bus with this decision.

We should never forget the Minister stayed silent when the Illawarra Mercury asked him to clarify the nature of a series of meetings with the NSW Taxi Council in the lead-up to the announcement.

We should never forget he said moving to a user pays system would somehow lead to a better bus network. Really, we have never laughed so hard than when reading that justification for his decision.

We should also not lose sight of the fact that after the decision, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian made the astonishing claim we are in some sort of utopia thanks to her NSW Government.

If the Transport Minister’s remarks had us all laughing heartily, this one had us all in stitches.

“I completely support the sentiment advocated by the Member for Kiama, because this government has ensured the Illawarra has received more than it ever has in its past,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I support the Member for Kiama. The Illawarra has never had it so good”.

It appears the Wollongong City Council and the University of Wollongong will join together to ensure this valuable service remains free.

UOW announced on Wednesday it would stump up its share of contributing to the cost of running the service as is for the next three years as long as council did too.

It’s likely that decision will be made at council next week.

While the decisions by council and UOW will guarantee the service, it should not let the Premier or the Transport Minister off the hook.

How this matter has been handled from day one has been a disgrace.

Premier we hold you and your Transport Minister fully responsible for the heartache this has caused in our community.

And thank you to UOW and the council, in anticipation, for supporting what is an invaluable service.