Baldwin anti-rail stance “dishonest, cowardly and ignorant”, says Greens Newcastle candidate

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Greens candidate for the state seat of Newcastle, John Sutton, today accused Paterson Liberal MP Bob Baldwin of political dishonesty, cowardice and ignorance in joining the campaign to cut the Newcastle rail line.

“Mr Baldwin is trying to spin his anti-rail media statements today as an act of political courage, when the truth is that he didn’t declare his stance on this issue during the recent campaign for the federal seat of Paterson, and therefore denied his own constituents the opportunity to vote on it.

“Many of Mr Baldwin’s Paterson constituents use the Newcastle rail line to travel to work.

“If Mr Baldwin supported cutting the Newcastle rail line before the federal election on 21 August (less than two months ago) he has been politically dishonest and cowardly in not declaring this during the election campaign.

“If he didn’t support it during the federal campaign, then his recent sudden conversion demonstrates just how vulnerable the Coalition is to the same vested interests as the Labor Party, and just how shallow his party’s approach to regional development and public transport really is.

“However he spins it, the fact is that Mr Baldwin, the Coalition’s federal Shadow Minister for Regional Development, is now publicly advocating cutting regional rail infrastructure in support of an anti-rail campaign bankrolled by developers and other wealthy vested interests.

“Mr Baldwin’s comments about the now discredited Hunter Development Corporation’s Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report suggest that he hasn’t read the report, or followed the ensuing public debate.

“Mr Baldwin claims that the HDC report outlines a clear strategy for “an improved public transport system”, when, in fact (as The Greens have continually pointed out) the report clearly advocates cutting rail services and using existing bus capacity to take up displaced rail patronage, and contains no costings or funding recommendations for any public transport improvements at all.

“Under the scrutiny of grassroots community groups (including The Greens), the HDC has effectively admitted that their report is a car-based strategy based on fudged figures.

“Even NSW Labor is now showing signs that it is finally recognising the deficiencies of the HDC Report, abandoning some of its silly and unsustainable transport related recommendations.

“Neither the Labor nor Liberal party seems to be capable of making and holding to the hard decision to retain Newcastle’s rail line as a key element in the city’s revitalisation, and to take simple, relatively low-cost measures to landscape the line and install safe, controlled pedestrian crossings to connect the CBD and the harbour,” Mr Sutton said.

For further information or comment, please contact John Sutton (Greens candidate for Newcastle), on 4969 2668 or 0411 154 004.

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