Shinnick conversion shows tide is turning on rail debate, say Greens

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Comments in today’s Newcastle Herald by former Hunter Business Chamber CEO, Peter Shinnick, supporting the retention of the Newcastle rail line shows that the tide of opinion is now swinging firmly in favour of keeping this crucial piece of public transport infrastructure, according to The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton.

“During his time in Newcastle, Mr Shinnick was an active and high-profile anti-rail advocate, so his pro-rail statements today are highly significant,” Mr Sutton said.

“Mr Shinnick’s Melbourne conversion on the rail line matches the experience of others who have seen first-hand how a rail line into a city can be an asset, rather than a liability, for the city.
Mr Sutton said that The Greens were pleased that Mr Shinnick had also now recognised that a university CBD campus would need the rail line – a view in direct opposition to that put in the flawed and discredited Hunter Development Corporation report on city revitalisation.

Mr Shinnick’s comments come after the Herald’s Independent Public Transport Inquiry recently found that there was no public transport case for removing intercity rail services to Newcastle station, and recommended beautifying the line and installing safe level crossings to allow better connectivity across the line, for a fraction of the estimated cost of terminating the service at Wickham.

They also follow a day when the Premier, Kristina Kenneally, contradicted the local Labor Member for Newcastle and Minister for the Hunter, Jodi McKay, on Labor’s policy on the rail line, giving an “unequivocal” assurance that the rail line would not be cut, despite recent confirmation by Ms McKay that she is still campaigning to cut it.

“All this demonstrates that Ms McKay, Labor and the Newcastle anti-rail campaign are now in tatters on this crucial local issue,” Mr Sutton said.

“People are now seeing through the anti-rail propaganda, and understanding that the proposal to cut intercity rail services at Wickham would waste hundreds of millions of dollars of scarce public transport funding, reduce public transport patronage, undermine the revitalisation of the city, create traffic chaos, and ruin Beaumont Street.

“In continuing to pursue her obsession with cutting the Newcastle rail line, Ms McKay is flogging a dead iron horse,” Mr Sutton said.

“Like Mr Shinnick, Ms McKay and the forces behind the anti-rail campaign now need to look at public transport in a different way, recognising rail as an asset, rather than a liability, and join with the rest of the community in developing a united submission for crucial federal funding that could both revitalise the city and improve our public transport infrastructure,” Mr Sutton said.

For further information or comment, please contact John Sutton (Greens candidate for Newcastle), on 4969 2668 or 0411 154 004. John Sutton’s campaign blog is at:

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