Pine Avenue Pedestrian Crossing

09 August 2017
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Mr SPEIRS (Bright) (15:10): I would like to draw the house's attention today to the state Labor government's plan to close the Pine Avenue railway pedestrian crossing at Seacliff. The government cites safety concerns with regard to the crossing. However, I understand that there has never been an accident at this crossing, while there have been incidents at other points on the line in the past.

Safety is a topic that can easily be hidden behind, and it is a line used regularly by the transport department to deflect criticism. While safety is always a very serious consideration, it should not be used as an excuse for lazy planning. The same concern over safety was raised when we had the train horn debacle afflicting my community, with horns blaring every time a train entered a train station, exited a train station and crossed a level crossing the length of the Seaford line. Thankfully, after considerable campaigning over a period of 18 months, we were able to reach a balanced position where a quieter horn was used at more appropriate times.

I hope the same level of common sense can be reached with the Pine Avenue pedestrian crossing, and I hope it does not take the many months that it took to deal with the horns. I do not believe that a railway crossing has any level of danger greater than a main road. In our community, Brighton Road is just a couple of hundred metres from the Pine Avenue crossing. It has four lanes and carries up to 40,000 vehicles each day. While it has inherent dangers, we teach personal responsibility and we would never consider fencing off Brighton Road and preventing interaction with it.

I note that the closure of the crossing is part of a plan by the government to reduce the number of crossings along the Seaford line. In my electorate, the transport department proposes to undertake upgrade works at four existing railway pedestrian crossings at Seventh Avenue, Hove; Amelia Street, Hove; King George Avenue, Brighton; and Beach Road, Brighton, placing automated gates at these crossings. The department also proposes to remove four railway pedestrian crossings at Dunluce Avenue, Brighton; King Street, Brighton; Hallett Cove station; and the crossing I am speaking specifically about today, the Pine Avenue crossing found at Kingston Park and Seacliff.

I note that members of the public only became aware of these closures when they either read about them in the local Messenger newspaper, they were doorknocked by locals seeking petition signatures against the closure or they received a letter from me outlining my concerns about the closure. The reason I am so opposed to the closure of the Pine Avenue crossing is that it forms a critical walking link within the Seacliff-Kingston Park community.

The crossing links a range of key destinations in the area. East of the crossing we find Brighton Road with multiple businesses, including a local deli and medical facilities, while there is also Seacliff Primary School. In the west, we find the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club, the Seacliff Surf Life Saving Club, the Brighton Caravan Park, Pine Gully Reserve and, of course, the beach and all the recreational opportunities that it offers.

There is no doubt in my mind that the closure of the crossing will seriously and detrimentally impact upon the livability of our community, discouraging walking and encouraging people to jump in their cars to get their shopping or take the kids to school. I have been contacted by parents of students at Seacliff Primary School about this closure, who feel that it will restrict access to the school and diminish the likelihood of children walking to school.

Similarly, many elderly people, some of whom do not drive, who use the crossing to access the deli and medical facilities on Brighton Road would be considerably more isolated without the crossing. I want to particularly thank Mrs Shirley Whittaker for taking the time to write to me to outline her personal story of how the crossing's closure would affect her.

I was delighted that on Sunday 6 August the shadow transport minister, the member for Unley, accepted my invitation to visit the crossing. He met with 25 local residents who turned out to lunch at the home of Kinda Snyder. Not only was a delicious lunch provided but Ms Snyder also provided a comprehensive presentation on why the crossing's closure would have an adverse impact on the community.

I would like to thank Kinda for her efforts in driving this campaign, which has been admirable. I have also been delighted that the City of Holdfast Bay, led by the Deputy Mayor, Susan Lonie, has come on board and unanimously supported Kinda's call for the crossing to remain open. The Pine Avenue crossing does not need to close. If there is a genuine safety concern, there are other solutions to improve safety, including a system of pedestrian lights or automatic gates if required. I urge the government to reverse the decision to close the Pine Avenue railway crossing.