Local Greens welcome Labor fast rail support, but call on Labor to get off the fence on future of Newcastle rail line

The Greens candidate for Newcastle Michael Osborne today welcomed
Labor’s commitment to a feasibility study of a high speed rail link
between Newcastle and Sydney, but called on federal Labor to take a
similar leadership role on the debate over the future of the Newcastle
rail line.

“It’s excellent that federal Labor are now showing some much needed
leadership and vision on sustainable transport infrastructure in
supporting high-speed rail,” Mr Osborne said.

“It’s now time for them to apply the same approach to settling the
long-running, debilitating debate on the future of the Newcastle rail
line.

“The state Labor government has indicated that the proposals advocated
by the local anti-rail lobby to cut the Newcastle rail line would
require federal funding.

“The continued silence of Federal Labor on this crucial local
transport issue has given oxygen to the nay-saying, anti-rail campaign
of developer-funded lobby groups such as Fix Our City, whose efforts
have stymied attempts to develop a community consensus for a credible,
sustainable, rail-based revitalisation of Newcastle’s CBD and public
transport system.

“The federal member for Newcastle, Sharon Greirson, and the federal
Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, must send a clear and
categorical message to the vested interests bankrolling Newcastle’s
anti-rail lobby that federal government money will not fund the
removal of any rail infrastructure or services in Newcastle,” Mr
Osborne said.

“As The Greens have continuously said – and as Professor Peter Newman
(from Infrastructure Australia) recently confirmed – the conflict
created by the anti-rail campaign is stopping Newcastle from
developing a credible plan capable of gaining vital federal funding
for sustainable, rail-based urban revitalisation, such as the Gold
Coast has won.

“It’s time that federal Labor got off the fence on this issue, and put
it on the public record in unambiguous terms that a federal Labor
government will not fund the removal of rail infrastructure or
services in Newcastle, but that they emphatically would be prepared to
fund a credible plan for a sustainable, rail-based revitalisation of
the city’s business district and public transport system.

“Federal Labor has a chance right now to effectively end the conflict
over this local issue, and to allow the community the opportunity to
finally come together to build a community consensus around  a
sustainable, rail-based revitalisation plan that has a real chance of
winning federal infrastructure funding,” Mr Osborne said.


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