MR – Anti-rail group fixing to kill Hunter St businesses

Newcastle Greens today warned Newcastle businesses that the plan
advocated by anti-rail lobby group Fix Our City would kill city
businesses that rely on loading zones and turnover car-parking along
Hunter St.

Newcastle Greens Councillor Michael Osborne said that presenters from
Fix Our City who briefed Newcastle City councillors on Tuesday night
confirmed that they wanted the Hunter Development Corporation’s
Revitalisation Report adopted in its entirety.

“As its alternative to the rail line, the HDC plan advocates a busway
along Hunter St that would eliminate loading zones and hundreds of
turnover car parking spaces on which already struggling Hunter St
businesses depend for their survival,” Councillor Osborne said.

“This is graphically illustrated on page 80 of the HDC report that Fix
Our City is backing,” Councillor Osborne said. [see included graphics
from the HDC Report]

Councillor Osborne said that he was concerned that the Fix Our City
representatives who spoke to Newcastle Council on Tuesday night
appeared to be unaware of this implication of the HDC report that they
were supporting, despite Newcastle businesses constantly identifying
the availability of car parking in the city as a major priority for

“They had no real answer to my question about this obvious impact on
local businesses of the HDC’s proposed busway – which is surprising
from a group that purports to be representing business interests in
the city. Since Fix Our City agrees with the HDC’s proposed busway as
the replacement for the rail line, you’d expect that they would be
have examined the potential impacts of that proposal on businesses in
the area of the city that most need revitalisation,” Councillor
Osborne said.

“But it was evident on Tuesday night that they hadn’t even considered
this potential impact.

“I’m concerned that the vested interests who have been campaigning to
cut the Newcastle rail line for two decades are so obsessed with their
anti-rail campaign that they haven’t stopped to consider the real
implications of the HDC report for city businesses,” he said.

“Obviously, if they aren’t even aware of this aspect of the HDC
report, they haven’t made the businesses along Hunter St aware of it

“Neither the HDC nor the Fix Our City lobby have any answer to how
they would solve this problem for the already struggling businesses
along Hunter St, or where the extra and replacement car parking and
loading zone spaces that would be required would be found.

“Perhaps the answer is hidden on page 55 of the HDC Report, which
lists parking and standing for service vehicles under “possible future
uses of the rail corridor”? Councillor Osborne said.

“I’m sure Hunter St businesses wouldn’t be very impressed with that.

“This is just one of the many issues arising from the HDC’s now widely
discredited anti-rail proposal.

“The Hunter Development Corporation’s cut-the-rail plan is an
unsustainable, outmoded, road-based strategy that will increase the
relative share of car trips into the city, increasing car-parking
demand, at the same time as decreasing already scarce car-parking

“The state government has made it clear that nothing will happen
without federal funding, and it’s simply unthinkable that a federal
government that claims it is committed to sustainable urban
development would provide public money to cut a rail line.

“As Professor Peter Newman (board member of Infrastructure Australia)
told us on a recent visit to the city, to win federal infrastructure
and revitalisation funding, Newcastle needs a plan based on robust
evidence and research (unlike the now discredited HDC report), and
capable of gaining a community consensus.

“This is what the Gold Coast did, and it’s what Newcastle could do too
if the local anti-rail lobby would just drag themselves into the 21st
century, stop their silly, destructive, negative, self-interested and
deceptive push to cut the Newcastle rail line, and put the interests
of the city first.

“If they did this, the Newcastle community could come together behind
a plan for revitalising the city and for developing a 21st century
public transport system based on rail.

“If they don’t, Newcastle is likely once again to miss out on federal
revitalisation funding, and yet another chance will be lost on the
rocks of negativity and self-interest.

“The fact is that the anti-rail campaign and their naysaying attitude
to the city’s rail line has now become the greatest barrier to
Newcastle’s revitalisation,” Councillor Osborne said.

Contact:    Michael Osborne 0439 442984 or 4940 8149

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