MR: Premier prepared to put people before profits?‏

Newcastle Greens today welcomed the NSW Premier’s indication that she
was not yet convinced of the need to cut the Newcastle rail line.

The Premier, Kristina Kenneally, made the comment in an interview on
local ABC radio station 1233 this morning, prior to her meeting with
the community-based pro-rail Save Our Rail group and the
developer-backed anti-rail Fix Our City group.

“The community will be very pleased to hear that the Premier has not
caved in to the powerful vested interests who have been directing vast
resources to the anti-rail push, and we urge her to resolve this issue
in a way that maintains and improves the current rail infrastructure
and services to Newcastle station,” Newcastle Greens rail spokesperson
Councillor Michael Osborne said today.

“Ms Kenneally’s chances of leading a Labor government to re-election
next year will partly depend on the credibility she is able to muster
between now and then on public transport, and on her government’s
ability to distance itself from the influence of developer interests.

“The Newcastle rail line issue has both of these elements, and
provides an opportunity for the Premier to win back some of the public
support she and the state Labor government have lost on such issues in
the recent past,” Clr Osborne said.

Referring to the Premier’s comment during her 1233 interview that she
believed there was a way of resolving the rail issue, Councillor
Osborne urged her to look seriously at proposals advanced by the
community to reintroduce safe, controlled pedestrian access at various
points across the rail line, and to landscape the line to improve its

“These improvements can be done at a fraction of the estimated
$650million cost of cutting the line,” Clr Osborne said.

“Throughout this debate, the community (including The Greens) have
demonstrated that the arguments advanced in favour of cutting the line
are based on misinformation and dodgy figures,” Clr Osborne said.

“No government that really cares about a sustainable future for our
city could support cutting a rail line that would be covetted by any
other city in the world, simply at the behest of vested interests.

“Any professional, objective analysis of the proposal to cut the
Newcastle rail line will show that taking such a proposal to Canberra
for federal revitalisation and infrastructure funding assistance would
simply make Newcastle a laughing stock.

“Scarce revitalisation funding must be directed where it is really
needed, and where it can do most good,” Clr Osborne said. “To divert
it into cutting rail infrastructure would be scandalous, and a sure
sign of a government in policy and electoral free-fall.

“As Newcastle deals with the challenge of traffic congestion, peak oil
and climate change, we will need our rail lines and services more than
ever. The Premier should be looking at funding genuinely worthy
transport projects, such as funding a safe, connected cycleway network
in Newcastle and funding the proposed Glendale interchange.

“We congratulate the Premier for offering hope to the community that
she might be prepared to put people before profits on the long-running
question of the Newcastle rail line,” Clr Osborne said.

Contact Michael Osborne 0439 442984

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