MEMBER for Monaro, John Barilaro, will be out of the country for tomorrow’s crucial public meeting on Bombala’s bus service.
Instead, Mr Barilaro will send a representative from his office to hear residents’ concerns about changes to the service which came into effect on Monday, June 30.
But residents say that isn’t good enough.
Val McClusky, of Bombala, said a council staff member phoned her two weeks ago, urging her to alert people to the public meeting.
Mrs McClusky said that during that phonecall, the council staff member told her that Mr Barilaro, Bombala Mayor Cr Bob Stewart and two TrainLink representatives would be in attendance.
She then learnt that Mr Barilaro would not be present.
“Mr Barilaro’s office said he hadn’t been invited,” Mrs McClusky said.
“It’s like a red rag to a bull.
“He’s the one who announced the changes, he should be there.
“Everyone is very angry,” she said.
Mrs McClusky said the changes affected people from a wide area – from Bombala, Delegate, and Nimmitabel all the way to Victoria.
She said the changes not only had an impact on elderly commuters.
“TAFE students travelling into Cooma are now running 20 minutes late for classes,” she said.
The changes to the TrainLink bus service mean that passengers boarding in Bombala now need to depart more than an hour earlier than previously.
Passengers now need to be at the bus stop at 6.40am for a 6.50am departure – instead of 8.05am previously.
The trip from Bombala to Cooma, which now goes via Jindabyne, now takes more than two hours; it then departs Cooma for Canberra.
The aim of the changes was to improve service across the Snowy and put Jindabyne residents on an equal footing with people living in Bombala.
The NSW government said the new timetable was on a 12-month trial.
Meanwhile, there is ongoing confusion as to whether Mr Barilaro was actually invited to the meeting.
The Bombala Times understands that Mr Barilaro is disappointed that Bombala Shire Council did not check his availability before the meeting was organised.
“Regrettably I will be unable to attend the meeting due to a longstanding private commitment that takes me out of the country, that I am unable to reschedule,” Mr Barilaro told the Bombala Times yesterday.
“Given the importance of the issue to Bombala residents I have organised for a representative from my office to attend in my place to ensure that the concerns raised by the Bombala community in relation to CountryLink bus service changes are given necessary attention.
“I will be fully briefed on the outcome of the meeting upon my return.
“I have been in constant communication with the mayor and NSW TrainLink and am investigating a number of options to resolve this issue.
“I am looking forward to hearing what solutions are put forward by the community,” he said.
The Bombala Times attempted to contact the council yesterday to clarify whether Mr Barilaro had been invited without success.
Residents are also upset that MLC Steve Whan and Federal Member for Liberal Member for Eden-Monaro, Dr Peter Hendy, are also unable to attend.
• The public meeting is on tomorrow, Thursday, July 24, at the Bombala Community Centre, starting at 10.30am.