Passenger Rail

Hinchliffe rejects calls to quit

Stirling Hinchliffe will not resign as Queensland’s transport minister, despite calls from the Opposition for him to step down after last month’s rail staffing crisis.

Opposition leader Tim Nicholls led calls for Hinchliffe to step down in State Parliament on Tuesday, October 8.

“Last week the minister failed to take responsibility for the Queensland Rail crisis,” Nicholls said. “Yesterday he denied responsibility for fixing the crisis. Today he continues to deny responsibility for the Queensland Rail debacle. When will the Premier force the transport minister to do the right thing and either take responsibility or resign?”

Nicholls was referencing a short-staffing crisis which hit QR late in October, forcing the state-owned passenger operator to cut 100 services with a day’s notice, and release a new timetable this week, with less services available to passengers.

Hinchliffe has said he was not alerted to potential disruptions ahead of time by QR, despite a report warning the operator as early as January 2016 that short-staffing may occur. The minister claims he was not told of the warnings, and blames the former Liberal National Government for not providing QR with enough funding.

“When it comes to responsibility it is time that former shareholding ministers of Queensland Rail, the member for Clayfield [Tim Nicholls] and the member for Indooroopilly [Scott Emerson], take responsibility for the lack of resources that were present in Queensland Rail that has led to this mess,” Hinchliffe told Parliament.

“It is time that they take responsibility and deliver the documentation, the materials and the briefing papers that are relevant from their time of government that show that they were responsible for the cuts and damagers that we have seen that have led to this crisis.

“I call for on the Leader of the Opposition to step up to that responsibility and table and provide the documents that are relevant from his time in government.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ruled out sacking her cabinet minister.

“Queensland Rail is responsible for the operational business of Queensland Rail,” she said. “That is what their job is.

“What we are hearing very clearly is that there were savage cuts under the administration of the leader of the opposition when he was Treasurer of this state.”

Palaszczuk said 66 trainer positions were cut from QR’s driver training program under the Liberal National Government.