Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cabinet gets cold feet on Newcastle rail removal plan

Here's the Newcastle Herald article...

29/07/2009 4:00:00 AM
THE NSW Cabinet is understood to have delayed deciding whether to remove the train line from Newcastle, over fears the plans could go the same way as electricity and jail privatisation plans.

Sources close to the Government said the cabinet was poised to approve sweeping plans for the CBD outlined by the Hunter Development Corporation at a meeting yesterday but it was withdrawn from the agenda.

It is understood cabinet ministers have been contacting Hunter backbenchers to test the waters with the electorate.

"They are being told 'Newcastle wants it' but now they're worried," a source said.

"They are pushing back their decision."

It is understood the Cabinet has developed cold feet, over fears cutting the line could mean losing Labor-held seats at Maitland and Charlestown at the next election.

"They are worried about losing voters from Cardiff, who would have to make two interchanges to get to Newcastle, it would be a bus and a train and then another bus."

Political sources said the Government would at least hold off on a decision until it examined the outcomes of public consultation and are likely to broach the issue again in September.

"They want to be seen to do the right thing.

"They don't want their fingers burnt again in the Hunter after electricity and the jail."

Maitland MP Frank Terenzini and Charlestown MP Matthew Morris are staunchly against plans to remove the rail line.

Mr Morris acknowledged yesterday that it could hurt Labor's chances at the next election.

"We have been talking about the Glendale interchange for some years and we need to get on and deliver it, not spend multi-millions removing a train line," he said.

"It's a significant regional issue and I think it would certainly have a detrimental effect on Labor candidates. There's no doubt about that."

Mr Terenzini said he wasn't paid to worry about his seat, but took the side of constituents who wanted the rail line kept.

"My constituents can't understand why Newcastle would rip out its train line while other cities are putting them in," he said.

"My constituents are against it, there's no question about that."

And here's the Herald poll relating to the article...

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