Newcastle Greens call on candidates to support Independent Public Transport Inquiry recommendations

The Greens candidate for Newcastle John Sutton today called on other Newcastle candidates to unite around the recent key recommendations of the Newcastle Herald’s Independent Inquiry into Public Transport.

“The Independent Inquiry has thrown down the gauntlet to candidates in the current state election, and so far The Greens are the only party that has taken up this challenge,” Mr Sutton said.

Newcastle Greens support the Inquiry’s recommendations to:

  • establish an independent regional transport authority (provided that this is accompanied by recurrent state funding that is at least equivalent to the current level in both absolute and relative terms)
  • aim for 15 minute clock-face frequencies for all Newcastle train services, coordinated with express buses
  • build the Glendale interchange and improve access at other main stations and interchanges
  • retain current train services to Newcastle station, landscape and beautify the Newcastle rail corridor, provide safe, controlled at-grade access across the line, and synchronise road and rail signals at Stewart Avenue
  • investigate further options for improving Newcastle’s public transport system, including tram-trains/light rail, as part of an integrated transport strategy for the Lower Hunter.

“These recommendations provide a sensible basis for immediate action on public transport in Newcastle, and all candidates should support them,” Mr Sutton said.

Mr Sutton said he was particularly disappointed that the current Labor member for Newcastle, Jodi McKay, was already attempting to undermine the credibility of the Inquiry by spreading misinformation about its membership.

“At the recent Urban Development Institute of Australia’s candidates forum, Ms McKay claimed that the Independent Inquiry was headed by a member of Save Our Rail,” Mr Sutton said.

“I’ve been assured by Save Our Rail that this is not true, and I call on Ms McKay to immediately correct the public record on this, and on the other matters about which she has been spreading misinformation in relation to her advocacy for cutting the Newcastle rail line,” Mr Sutton said.

“Ms McKay has been misrepresenting an artist’s impression of the proposed Wickham Terminus as a picture of an ‘interchange’, when she must know herself that the plan in the state government’s Wickham Truncation report doesn’t include any interchange facilities at all.

“Ms McKay’s latest ‘rabbit out of the hat’ transport trick is a ‘light rail down Hunter Street’ proposal that is not even considered in any of the state government’s recent transport plans for Newcastle.

“The Hunter Development Corporation’s city renewal report advocated a busway down Hunter St, and the more recent Newcastle Transport Management and Accessibility Plan (TMAP) recommended a CBD bus loop to replace the truncated rail line.

“It’s not surprising that Ms McKay has rejected both these proposals, but she can’t expect voters to take seriously yet another ill-considered thought-bubble about public transport on the eve of a state election.

“The truth is that – as far as making real improvements to Newcastle’s public transport system is concerned – Ms McKay has been asleep at the wheel, and she can’t cover this up now by peddling misinformation, slapping some new green paint on a few buses, and hoping that voters don’t see that she’s avoiding the real issues,” 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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