Home' InDaily : October 23rd 2009 Contents October 23 - 29, 2009
7The Independent Weekly
Mitcham asks Govt
for rail move help
Adiscussion paper on future
plans for Adelaide's rail
freight line has been criticised
for placing more emphasis on
dollars than quality of life.
The Federal Government's
Adelaide Rail Freight Movements
Study paper, released last week,
presents five options to improve
the capacity and efficiency of
the freight line between Murray
Bridge and Adelaide.
They range from upgrading
the existing line at a cost of $700
million to creating a new southern
bypass, which would cost $2.4
billion. However, the Mitcham
Rail Freight Sub-Committee
says the paper's costings are
questionable, and it fails to give
equal importance to issues such as
health, amenity and safety.
Mitcham councillor and freight
rail sub-committee chair Mark
Ward said it was disappointing
that the paper, part of a $1.35
million study which consultant
GHD is undertaking for the Federal
Government, did not offer "a
broader presentation of the wider
He said engineers attending
a public meeting to debate the
options also believed some of its
calculations were triple those of
"Some people feel it's almost
becoming a bit of a fob-off with
inflated figures, and some figures
seem to contradict those previously
released," he said. "Option four
seems almost unachievable at $2.4
billion and with the longest tunnels
The sub-committee has
recommended Mitcham Council
reject upgrading the existing
Adelaide Hills line, saying this
would probably worsen the
problem of the squealing noise
endured by nearby residents, and
increase the risk of derailments.
The committee dismissed as
"grandiose" the $2.4 billion option
of a southern tunnel bypass from
Kangarilla to the Cross Roads level
Cr Ward said its preference
was for a northern bypass south
of Truro to Two Wells, estimated
to cost $1.4 billion, which would
bypass the Adelaide Hills track all
the way to Islington and reduce by
more than two hours the transit
time for freight travelling direct
between Melbourne and Perth/
"Any option must remove the
freight from the Adelaide Hills
line to get rid of the squealing
noise and open the line up for other
uses," he said. The track could then
be used to run a tourist train to the
Fleurieu and a passenger service to
Cr Ward urged the State
Government to support a bypass.
"I have not heard a peep from
(Minister for Transport and
Infrastructure) Pat Conlon or the
Mr Conlon has not expressed a
preference for any of the options in
the discussion paper.
A spokesman for the Minister
said the state's Department
for Transport, Energy and
Infrastructure had been a member
of the steering committee for
the study and had provided
background information for the
"As such, it is not appropriate
that the state comment formally on
the paper," he said.
This is little consolation for
residents living near the freight
line, which the GHD paper
acknowledges has not kept up with
modern standards since it was
opened in 1887 to accommodate the
steam engines of the time.
"There is unwavering passion
about this issue from the
community," Cr Ward said.
"The noise is a constant
reminder to retain their rage and
New South Australians begin new life
Five sets of eyes peer out of a
council home in Kilburn. These
young boys are isolated but curious.
Their mother Sheqeba Habibi
immigrated to Australia in 2006.
Her mother, younger brother and
sister remain in dangerous refugee
villages on the border of Pakistan
"My two older brothers and
father." Sheqeba swipes her hand
violently across her throat. They
were executed by the Taliban.
Sheqeba is safe, but isolated
in Adelaide. She was brought to
Australia with her son Omid, now
eight, and seven months pregnant
with triplets, following her husband
Quinbidden and his family. Since
coming to Australia she has given
birth to another son, now aged two.
But as Afghan tradition dictates,
her husband spends most of his
time caring for his mother meaning
that even now with five young boys
to care for Sheqeba is often left to
She is illiterate and can only
speak limited English. Without
help even grocery shopping is not
possible. She cannot work and her
husband is out of a job.
Sheqeba is one of up to 1500
humanitarian immigrants who
come to SA every year. These are
asylum seekers who have come
from refugee camps in countries
including Afghanistan, Iraq,
Burma and Sudan, or who have
been processed through detention
Support for new immigrants like
the Habibis is limited to volunteers
through organisations such as the
Australian Refugee Association.
In SA $1 million government
aid helps to provide support for
refugees, such as mediation and
ARA community development
manager Craig Heidenreich said
immigrants can find it difficult to
adjust to a new culture.
Mr Heidenreich said community
structure and discipline needed to
be adjusted to survive in Australia.
"They are survivors. We try
to give them the courage to keep
"Even dealing with cash needs
to be taught. A Centrelink payment
seems like a fortune to them until
they realise how expensive it is to
The ARA has 30 paid employees,
but relies mainly on about 500
In their first six months, immi-
grants are housed by Anglicare
through Immigration Department
After this the ARA helps them
find affordable accommodation on
the open market.
"It is not unusual that these large
families on low incomes need more
than a three-bedroom house and
there is a trend towards settling in
the outer northern suburbs," he
"Often a settled family will
take another family in and they'll
sleep on the floor until they find
Sheqeba is lucky. She has a
support network of six volunteers
who visit her several times a week
to help with the kids.
Her strongest support comes
from Georgina and Tony
McGuinness who visit the family
a couple of times a week, taking
Sheqeba out to shop or appoint-
ments and looking after the boys.
"Aside from the odd health issue,
she battles isolation, depression
and exhaustion from a household
full of young boys," Georgina said.
"She is an inspiration to Tony
and I who marvel at how she keeps
going and always with a smile on
Georgina said Sheqeba has
also experienced violence from
"At times she has been quite
terrified for her life. In those
instances she calls us right away
for assistance because often there is
nowhere else to turn."
The ARA said community
attitudes towards immigrants
were generally positive and it was
important to maintain that.
"There's a goodwill there and if
we lost it would be hard to regain
it," Mr Heidenreich said.
"Some politicians like to stir up
an idea. But they need to try to tone
done that rhetoric. If any of us were
in the situation these immigrants
face we would try to seek help too."
Greens Senator Sarah
Hanson-Young this week called
for the Federal Government and
Opposition to stop referring to
asylum-seekers as illegal.
"People who are fleeing persecu-
tion have every right to seek asylum
under international law, and the
Press Council has warned that the
use of the words 'illegal' or 'illegals'
in coverage of the issue is inac-
curate," Ms Hanson-Young said.
Independent MLC Ann
Bressington is campaigning for
victims of abuse in state care to
get better compensation than
that likely to be offered by the
Ms Bressington said yesterday
the existing offer would not meet
the victims' needs.
The Government has already
announced that a compensation
scheme would be established for
victims of abuse in state care
providing payments of up to
"We are going to be
compassionate and generous
and we have made provision of
millions of dollars for ex-gratia
payments under the Victims of
Crime Act," the Attorney-General
The compensation to be made
available to victims of abuse in
state care is the equivalent to
that available to other victims of
"To argue that victims of
abuse in state care are equal to
other victims of violent crime is
to ignore that the state was the
perpetrator," Ms Bressington said.
"Any compensation payments
made must reflect that it was the
state who perpetrated against
these victims. This is not the
state compensating victims for
another's crime but for its own.
"I call upon the Attorney-
General to increase the maximum
compensation amount available to
Last year, Premier Mike Rann
said that any person who was
sexually abused while in care,
is eligible to immediately seek
compensation through the Victims
of Crime Fund.
"This was demonstrably
false, which is verified by the
establishment of the scheme
foreshadowed by the Attorney-
General," Ms Bressington said.
"By deceiving victims
about their entitlements, this
Government has shown that it
puts good PR before the victims'
"The Attorney-General must
not use this as an opportunity to
protect the interests of the state.
To do so would be to re-abuse these
The Habibi family with Georgina McGuinness: helping them sur vive in a new world.
Photo: Kate Elmes
Kate Elmes and Melissa Mack
payments made must
reflect that it was the
state who perpetrated
against these victims.
This is not the state
for another's crime
but for its own.
-- Independent MLC Ann Bressington
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