Friday, 12 December 2008

Government declares “open season for developers” on Newcastle rail line, say Greens

Newcastle Greens
12 December 2008

Yesterday’s policy backdown by the NSW Labor government on the future of the Newcastle rail line was an act of political cowardice and betrayal, The Greens said today.

“Yesterday’s announcement by the Minister for the Hunter and state Member for Newcastle, Jodi McKay, was simply a smoke-screen for signing the death-warrant for the Newcastle rail line,” Greens councillor Michael Osborne said.

“Effectively, the NSW government has now washed its hands of the Newcastle rail line, and handed over the future of Newcastle’s public transport system to private developers,” Cr Osborne said.

“Delegating the decision on the rail line to the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) is putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank. The HDC is a development corporation, not a planning body,” Cr Osborne said.

“The role of the HDC is to help facilitate development by the private sector on key State land holdings under its control. [see the HDC website]

“The current membership of the HDC Board includes well known anti-rail advocates.

“In the hands of the HDC, a decision to cut the Newcastle rail line is a foregone conclusion.

“What yesterday’s announcement means is that - as far as the NSW Labor government is concerned - it is now open season for developers on the Newcastle rail line.

“This is a policy backflip of mammoth proportions,” Cr Osborne said.

“Nothing in yesterday’s announcement indicates that the state government will even insist on anything as basic as improving the city’s public transport system, or making it more sustainable,” Cr Osborne said.

“In the light of this betrayal of trust, the so-called commitment to ‘keep the rail corridor in public ownership’ is simply not credible.

“Yesterday’s decision is a further blow to the plummeting credibility of NSW Labor, and yet another stab in the back to those in the Newcastle community who had placed their trust in the Labor Party,” Cr Osborne said.

Cr Osborne urged people who were concerned about the government's decision to attend tomorrow's public meeting organised by Save Our Rail at 12noon, at the Newcastle Leagues Club.

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