The NSW Government has betrayed the Hunter community and the people of NSW by passing a bill that allows them to rip up the rail line connecting Sydney CBD and the heart of Newcastle.
The passage of the rail closure bill comes after a hard-fought community campaign for the saving of the rail line over many years. The Greens proposed an amendment to the bill that would have made Newcastle City Council the consent authority for any development on the corridor. Unfortunately this did not succeed: c2015-089B Transport Administration Amendment (Closure of Railway Line at Newcastle) Bill 2015
Greens MP and Transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi said:
“Today is a sad day for the people of NSW, and a shameful day for the NSW Government. The government have shown yet again that they run NSW for profit and private interests – not the public interest, not for people.
“The passing of the bill is bad enough for the community of the Hunter, but with the government relying the Shooters & Fishers Party votes after extensive negotiations, we now have to await to see what dodgy deal was cut to get the Shooters’ support.
“Public transport is an essential service for our society, and good public transport is hard to come by. The Newcastle rail line has provided a fantastic service for the people of NSW for over 150 years, and now the government is going to rip it up.
“I know for a fact that the community activists will keep fighting to save their rail line and their rail corridor,” she concluded.
Greens MP and Planning spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“It’s another day in NSW and it sees another dodgy development decision being made by just another NSW government.
“It doesn’t seem to matter if the government of this State is led by the Coalition or the Labor party, residents in the Hunter get the rough end of the stick.
“This has been, and will continue to be, a monumental struggle by the people of Newcastle for public space, public transport and just plain decency.
“If the rail line is to go, then the people of Newcastle through the Council should have the final say on the future of the rail corridor.
“The Greens amendment would have ensured Newcastle City Council, and not some state-appointed planning panel, has the final say on development in the corridor.
“Without this amendment all the people of Newcastle have to protect them is a hollow unenforceable promise from the Baird government.
“I have nothing but admiration for the community of Newcastle who have consistently and proudly made the case for public rail, public space and public interest in the State’s second largest city,” Mr Shoebridge said.