Today I pay tribute to the individuals working tirelessly to enhance the Better Rail upgrades in our electorate, to those fighting hard to make decision-makers think bigger and see the potential in this project.

Country people see all too often what happens when people making decisions that affect us do not understand us, our needs and capabilities.

But not this time. Not with us. And not with the Better Rail.

The Deputy Prime Minister saw this when I brought him to Indi last week.

I want to recognise some of the people leading this visionary community movement. The thing is about Indi, we don’t sit back and wait for someone else to solve the problem. We get busy. We show up. More than 200 people turned up last Friday.

In Euroa:

  • Jim Shovelton, the spokesperson of Euroa Connect, who presented to the Deputy Prime Minister on Friday
  • John Simpson, the chair of Euroa Connect
  • Kathi Clark-Orsanic and Zvonko Orsanic, skilled local architects who developed the design concept
  • Richard Hughes, an engineer who ensured engineering specifications and solutions for community designs to really stack up
  • Shirley Saywell, an amazing community networker who works to keep locals engaged and active in decision-making affecting the Euroa area
  • And the other members of Euroa Connect, who assist at pop-up community consultations, contributing their expertise and speaking up for a better future for their town’s railway precinct.

In Benalla:

  • Suzie Pearce, chair and spokesperson of Better Benalla Rail
  • David Moore, technician and community communications expert
  • Phil Rees, who provides hand-on experience about the functioning of the station
  • Alana Johnson, a highly skilled community organiser
  • The volunteer Better Benalla Rail members, and the Save our Station volunteers, who run a pop-up shop to inform Benalla residents of the Better Rail project
  • Bill Dewing, the last station master, who I was honoured to meet on Friday

In Glenrowan:

  • Deborah Kemp, a heritage adviser providing volunteer advice on the preservation of the national heritage-listed Ned Kelly siege site
  • Helen Senior, volunteering hard for the Glenrowan Improvers to get the best possible outcome
  • And the many local businesses adjacent to the site who I’ve spoken with about concerns about the current design’s impact on the viability of their businesses.

And in Wangaratta:

  • David Maroney and his team who volunteer tirelessly to improve the safety and functioning of the Wangaratta Railway Station Precinct

As a community Independent, I am proud to walk alongside these people as their representative in this place.

I call on the government to honour their passion, their talent, their commitment and their skills – their incredible skills – for a better future for our region, with assurances that the Better Rail upgrade will deliver what the community wants.

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