Call for free, safe public transport

November 11, 2006

About 100 people rallied on the steps of Flinders Street station during rush hour on November 9 to call on Premier Steve Bracks' Labor government to make public transport free and put it back into public hands.

Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Footscray in the November 25 state election, tore up a mock contract with Connex, the private operator of Melbourne's electrified railway network, saying that the government should not renew its contract.

Other speakers included Bill Pembeon from the Greens, Steve Jolly from the Socialist Party and Ema Corro from the Melbourne Palestine Solidarity Network, who described Connex's role in the Middle East.

Windisch also used to event to launch a new blogsite (<>) to report instances of rough behaviour by ticket inspectors, employed by private contractors. Commuters who witness violent and offensive behaviour by inspectors are encouraged to submit their images and stories. This name-and-shame blog aims to reduce the increasingly heavy-handed approach by inspectors.

The initiative follows the recent assault on Socialist Alliance election campaign manager Marcus Greville by an inspector. The assault took place after Greville objected to the rough treatment of another passenger by inspectors and told them he would act as a witness to the event. One of the officers responded by striking Greville in the chest, then claimed that Greville was obstructing their work.

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