The state meeting of the NSW Greens in Gloucester this weekend has called on the state government to lift its gag on discussion of key parts of the city’s revitalisation in its current “Community Engagement” process.
The government’s process has specifically excluded discussion of revitalisation options such as re-establishing rail services on the Wickham-Newcastle rail corridor, controversial planning controls for the city’s eastern precinct, and the location of future light rail.
“Since the Baird government cut Newcastle’s intercity and regional train services to Newcastle Station in December last year, it has shown contempt for parliament and the community by trying to side-step the law requiring an Act of parliament to close the Newcastle rail line, ignoring the recommendations of a major parliamentary inquiry, and disregarding the defeat of its self-declared local “referendum” on the rail line at this year’s state election”, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens MLC and Spokesperson on Transport said.
“Now, the Baird government is asking the Newcastle community to discuss developments on the rail corridor that would be illegal, while gagging discussion of the revitalisation issues that the community most wants to talk about.
“The Newcastle community deserves genuine community engagement, not this sham.
“The Greens are aware that a number of community groups have already asked the government to incorporate the excluded matters into the current process.
“The community has never been genuinely consulted about these matters, and if the government is serious about genuinely engaging with the Newcastle community, it must lift its gag on these issues,” Newcastle Greens councillor Therese Doyle said.
The Greens meeting also called on NSW Labor to clarify its position on re-establishing Newcastle’s lost rail services, in the light of three out of the five Labor councillors on Newcastle Council recently joining Liberal and other conservative councillors to defeat a Greens proposal to include the option for re-establishing rail services in the current engagement process.
“NSW Labor has enjoyed recent electoral success in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter on the basis of its opposition to the Baird government’s rail cuts, and the community has a right to expect Labor to stand steadfast on this issue,” Dr Faruqi said.
“The recent council vote has left many in the community concerned about where Labor now stands on this.
“The Greens remain committed to re-establishing Newcastle’s lost rail services as soon as possible, and to a community-centred, rather than developer-centred, revitalisation process for Newcastle,” Clr Doyle said.
For Further Information
Dr Mehreen Faruqi 0402 118 350 (NSW Greens MLC, Greens Spokesperson on Transport)
Therese Doyle 0434 257 892 (Greens Councillor Newcastle City Council)
Michael Osborne 0439 442 984 (Greens Councillor Newcastle City Council)
David Shoebridge 0408 113 952 (NSW Greens MLC, Greens Spokesperson on Planning and the Hunter)
NSW GREENS STATE DELEGATES COUNCIL DECISION (15 August 2015):
Reverse Truncation of Newcastle Intercity Rail services
That this SDC:
- Reaffirm the opposition of The Greens NSW to the truncation of Newcastle’s intercity and regional rail services, and our support for re-establishing these services as soon as possible,
- Continue to support the grassroots community campaign to achieve this,
- Call on the state government to conduct a genuine community engagement process with the Newcastle community on the city’s revitalisation, and specifically to incorporate consideration of the following matters into the current “Community Engagement” process being conducted by UrbanGrowth:
- the option of re-establishing lost intercity and regional rail services between Wickham and Newcastle stations,
- controversial planning controls on the key UrbanGrowth/GPT redevelopment site, and
- the future route of any light rail services for the city.
- Call on the NSW Labor Party to clarify its position on the reestablishment of Newcastle’s truncated rail services, in the light of the majority of Newcastle Labor councilors voting to exclude this option in the current “Community Engagement” process.