Friday, 31 July 2009

Positive projects but misplaced rail focus

Newcastle Greens
31 July 2009

The Newcastle Greens today released its submission on the Hunter Development Corporation’s City Renewal Report.

“Our submission welcomes a number of the report’s proposals, and strongly supports its recommendation for a university CBD campus,” Newcastle Greens councillor Michael Osborne said.

“We welcome the fact that the State Government has paused to give itself the opportunity to get this right, and we urge the Minister for the Hunter, Jodi McKay, to seize this opportunity to unite the Newcastle community around a broadly supported program for revitalising the city that has a real chance of achieving significant Federal Government funding.

“However, our submission strongly opposes the HDC report’s focus on cutting the Newcastle rail line, and condemns the anti-rail bias, misinformation, misrepresentation and flawed data that characterise the report’s attempts to justify its predetermined recommendation to remove the city’s rail line.

“The HDC’s preoccupation with removing the rail line has let the Minister, the State Government and the Newcastle community down, and its anti-rail fixation contaminates its recommendations on many of the more worthwhile projects it identifies for revitalising the city.

“Since the beginning of the latest campaign by vested interests to cut the rail line, we have been warning that the revitalisation of the city is not about the rail line, and that the anti-rail fixation that has hijacked the revitalisation debate could seriously jeopardise Newcastle’s revitalisation, and our opportunity to get Federal funding.

“The HDC must concede that the development of a university city campus - which is identified as the key project for revitalising the city - does not depend on cutting the rail line, and that its assertion that this is so is a misrepresentation of the university’s position on the rail line.

“The development of a university city campus has broad support across the Newcastle community, and once the HDC acknowledges that it is achievable without cutting the rail line (as it clearly is), the city and the state government can develop a united and credible approach for federal government revitalisation funding.”

Cr Osborne said that the submission identifies many of the report’s deficiencies in its treatment of the rail line, and calls on the Minister to initiate an independent expert review of its recommendation to cut the line.

The submission supports improved cycling in the city, the development of conference and cruiser facilities, a revitalised (though not necessarily relocated) justice centre, and appropriate retail development in the CBD.

“We welcome recent indications from the State Government and the Minister that they are prepared to look beyond the negative preoccupation with cutting the Newcastle rail line, and toward projects that can provide a genuine basis for a sustainable, revitalised city,” Cr Osborne said.

No comments: