19 August 2009
Newcastle Council last night unanimously supported a suite of revitalisation projects for the Newcastle CBD that did not include cutting the Newcastle rail line.
Cr Osborne said that – in moving the motion – he had deliberately removed references to the contentious rail line issue in order to achieve a consensus position.
“This should make it clear to the state and federal governments that the council and the community want action to revitalise the Newcastle CBD, and that further divisive debate over cutting the Newcastle rail line was unproductive.
“The rail issue contaminated council’s previous vote on the HDC report, resulting in misunderstanding of what the vote meant, a highly divisive process, and several votes that split the council.
“In contrast, councillors were entirely united around last night’s vote.
“The message from this couldn’t be clearer: take the proposal to cut the rail line out of the equation, and the Newcastle community can approach state and federal governments for revitalisation funding with an entirely united voice.
“Even the Hunter Development Corporation has now conceded that – as the Greens have long argued - their cost benefit assessment that supposedly supported cutting the rail line was fundamentally flawed, since it was based on a false assumption about Newcastle University’s position.
“Despite the massive resources that have been put into a misinformation campaign on the rail line by vested interests, the recent Hunter Valley Research Foundation survey shows that opposition to cutting the Newcastle rail line is still very strong.
“In these circumstances, governments would be ill-advised to spend the estimated $600million of public money to rip up the rail line, when the cost-benefit for doing it doesn’t stack up, and there are so many worthy revitalisation projects that are overwhelmingly favoured by the community.
“Newcastle needs federal revitalisation funding to help with projects such as developing a university CBD campus, a refurbished legal precinct, cultural and tourism facilities, and public domain improvements.
“Last night’s unanimous vote on these projects clearly demonstrates this, and I hope the message is heard loud and clear in the halls of both Macquarie St and Canberra,” Cr Osborne said.