McLeish ensures voices are heard at Puffing Billy
For years volunteers have played a critical role with the operation of Puffing Billy as Station Masters, drivers, guards, conductors and engine cleaners. Proposed Changes to the Emerald Tourist Railway legislation could have seen their voice and role diminish at the heritage railway.
In Parliament, State Liberal Member for Eildon and Shadow Minister for Tourism, Cindy McLeish instigated changes, based on input received from many volunteers and supporters, to legislate a stakeholder consultative committee. This is to ensure the voices of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, volunteers and other key stakeholders are heard.
Ms McLeish said, “Puffing Billy is one of Victoria’s most iconic tourist destinations. We want to see it thrive and operate at its full potential. Volunteers have a key role to play in this.”
“Changes made in the legislation will ensure these bodies can continue to offer their knowledge and expertise to the railway.”
The legislation provides for the ongoing management and sustainability of Puffing Billy, a significant tourism attraction. It updates provisions relating to corporate governance practices and the operation of the railway, while now aligning the operation of the railway with modern standards.
Ms McLeish continues, “It is very clear that there are so many volunteers out there who have a love and a passion for the train, the railway, its history and its future, and they certainly want to have continued involvement.”
“The Liberals want to ensure work of the volunteers was recognised, that they were listened to, and that a positive, welcoming and warm environment exists,” Ms McLeish concludes.
Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Cathrine Burnett-Wake MP said, “Puffing Billy has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Eastern Victoria Region, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the years of dedication of the many volunteers.”
“These volunteers bring so much value and knowledge to the railway. For me, it was so important that they continued to have a voice moving forward.”
“I was pleased that the amendments put forward by the Liberals, ensuring a stakeholder consultative committee, were incorporated into the Bill. This will allow the preservation society and other interested stakeholders to continue offering their expertise.”
The Puffing Billy has been operating for 121 years, originally transporting passengers, timber, livestock, mail and food. Since it’s opening, the steam railway has transported over 11 million passengers and is now a major tourist attraction and a contributor to Victoria’s visitor economy.