14 November 2008
The Greens today welcomed the call for a state election “referendum” on the future of the Newcastle rail line.
“If the developer-supported anti-rail advocates want to run this as a core state election issue, The Greens say, bring it on”, Cr Osborne said.
“Today’s threat in the local media by Cr Aaron Buman to make the Newcastle rail line a core local state election issue is no more than a desperate scare tactic to influence the imminent CBD task force report.
“This is just chest-thumping by Cr Buman to impress his developer supporters, and to try to exploit a current wave of hysteria fanned by vested interests,” Cr Osborne said.
“The timing gives Cr Buman away: if this is such an important issue to him, why wasn’t it at the forefront of his council election campaign, only two months ago? Many of the voters (in Wards 1 and 4) who supported Cr Buman and his team in the September council election would be the hardest hit by cutting the rail line, and will now be shocked at what he is saying,” Cr Osborne said.
“These voters will welcome the opportunity to use the ballot box to show Cr Buman what they really think of his campaign to sacrifice the city’s public transport for the sake of a land grab by his developer supporters.”
Cr Osborne said that if Cr Buman carried through his threat, the most likely result will be to shore up NSW Labor’s chances of retaining local state seats.
“Keeping the Newcastle rail line is probably the best chance that NSW Labor has of keeping the seat of Newcastle ,” Cr Osborne said.
“Through the ‘nineties and the current decade, the people of Newcastle have consistently supported retaining the Newcastle rail line, even in the face of huge propaganda campaigns from developers and their anti-rail supporters. Novocastrians have consistently shown that – when given a fair opportunity to assess the information – they see through the spurious arguments of vested interests.
“A period of initial hysteria (just like the current one), whipped up by the same old suspects, has typified every previous attempt to cut the city’s rail line. Once this initial hysteria subsides, people have the chance to calmly and rigorously assess the information and the arguments, and keeping the rail line inevitably emerges as the best option, economically, financially, socially and environmentally.
“The real problem for the city with this issue is the continuing division that the developer lobby (and their supporters, such as Cr Buman) keep stirring up about the future of the line, which undermines a serious and cooperative approach to revitalise the city around its most sustainable transport link, and to create connectivity between the city and the waterfront,” Cr Osborne said.