Thursday, 23 October 2008

GPT rail ultimatum threatens Federal funding, say Greens

Newcastle Greens
23 October 2008

GPT’s anti-rail campaign could jeopardise Newcastle’s chance for Federal government urban renewal funding, according to the Newcastle Greens.

“The Federal government’s recently announced Major Cities program offers Newcastle an opportunity to unite to create an exciting and sustainable future for the city, incorporating a landscaped and permeable rail line as a key part of the city’s revitalisation,” Newcastle Greens spokesperson Cr Michael Osborne said.

“Like other community-based groups, The Greens have long argued that Newcastle’s rail service should be actively promoted, and that the rail corridor to Newcastle station should be extensively landscaped to improve its visual appearance, with at-grade crossings at strategic locations to provide more connectivity and access between the city and the waterfront.

“This community vision is totally aligned with the objectives of the federal government’s Major Cities program, which is about infrastructure, urban renewal and sustainability. But the GPT plan – which would remove valuable existing public transport infrastructure, and replace it with an unsustainable alternative – simply does not meet these criteria,” Cr Osborne said.

“There is nothing ‘green’ about GPT’s proposed ‘green corridor’ plan, except for the colour of the paving paint they might use to cover the rail corridor. Their plan would condemn Newcastle to an environmentally unsustainable, unviable, car-dependent transport system that would increase the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and hurt socially disadvantaged people,” Cr Osborne said.

“Cities that are serious about sustainability and urban renewal do not cut passenger rail services,” Cr Osborne said. “This is even borne out by GPT’s own examples of Vancouver and San Diego, which the company have used very misleadingly.” (eg, see YouTube)

“We encourage GPT to join in this community vision for the future of the city, and to find a way of making a profit that is in keeping with the local community’s wish to retain the rail line, and with its own stated corporate commitment to ‘create environments which enrich people’s lives and in doing so, improve the social and ecological capital of the communities we touch’.” (GPT website)

Cr Osborne also called on GPT to immediately release the technical data and reports behind its numerous claims about the viability of its proposed alternative transport system.

“A number of GPT’s claims have already been exposed as false or misleading, and many of their public assertions about the viability of their proposed transport alternative are highly dubious. On their Corporate Responsibility website, GPT claims that they see it as their social responsibility to share their knowledge, and that their website is their key mechanism for knowledge diffusion. However, GPT has not yet briefed the general Newcastle community on their cut-the-rail proposal, and none of their support documentation has yet been posted on their website,” Cr Osborne said.

“All we’ve had so far from GPT is glossy pictures and slick videos. The Newcastle community deserves a chance to examine the rigour and accuracy of GPT’s claims.

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