31 July 2009
Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne today welcomed the Minister for the Hunter Jodi McKay’s public acknowledgement that Newcastle’s revitalisation was not just about the Newcastle rail line.
“Stripped of its misrepresentations, name-calling and political huffing and puffing, Ms McKay’s statement today is in furious agreement with what The Greens and the grassroots of the Newcastle community have been saying all along: that the city’s revitalisation is not all about the rail line,” Cr Osborne said.
“The Greens have argued from the beginning that, rather than wasting public money on cutting the city’s rail line, the NSW government should focus on things that would genuinely contribute to revitalising the city, and could achieve a wider consensus from across the whole community, so the city can take a credible proposal to the federal government that has a real chance of winning federal funding.
“The key project here – as the Hunter Development Corporation report itself acknowledges – is the establishment of a university CBD campus. The problem with the HDC report is that it argues that establishing a university campus depends on cutting the rail line, when this is clearly not true.
“The university campus project is too important to the future of the city to use as a political football, as the HDC report does.
“I can understand that the Minister might want to vent her frustration at me with this kind of intemperate and unwarranted personal attack, but the people she should really be stomping her feet at are those behind the HDC report.
“The Minister needs to cool down, have a cup of tea, and reflect on the fact that it was developers and vested interests that started the campaign to cut the city’s rail line, not The Greens or the grassroots Newcastle community.
“And it wasn’t The Greens who placed the rail line at front and centre of the city revitalisation debate and tried to cook the books to make it look as though cutting the line was a better option than retaining it through misrepresentation, flawed data, and dodgy calculations – it was the Hunter Development Corporation, the organisation that the Minister herself appointed to come up with a credible plan.
“In focussing on the rail line as the key to revitalising the city, the HDC has let the Minister down, and The Greens welcome this week’s cabinet decision as a sign that the Minister and the NSW Government might be prepared to look beneath the surface of the HDC report’s claims about the rail line, and help to set the city on a sustainable path to revitalisation.