LABOR SUPPORTS LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST BAIRD’S ARROGANT PLAN TO RIP UP THE NEWCASTLE RAIL LINE

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The NSW Labor Opposition has today backed a legal action by community group Save Our Rail to prevent the Baird Liberal Government cutting the Newcastle rail line on Boxing Day.

The Baird Government plans to controversially cut the rail line between Wickham and Newcastle – and dump Hunter commuters onto makeshift buses for at least two years.

 

It has provided no detail about what would replace the line – or a timetable for commencement and completion of any works.

 

Last Friday, Opposition Leader John Robertson wrote to Premier Mike Baird requesting that he urgently release any advice in his possession proving that the Government’s plans are legal. Section 99A of the Transport Administration Act requires an act of Parliament before a railway line can be closed.

 

Outside the Supreme Court building in Sydney today, Opposition Leader John Robertson was joined by Shadow Minister for Transport Penny Sharpe, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp, Labor Candidate for Maitland Jenny Aitchison and Save Our Rail President Joan Dawson.

 

“Mike Baird didn’t listen to the community. He refused to release his legal advice and arrogantly told people to get out of the way. Labor is eager to support this action ensuring the Government’s legal position will now be tested,” Mr Robertson said.

 

“This is a Premier thumbing his nose at the law, the Parliament and the Hunter community.

 

“I want to improve public transport, not remove it. The Newcastle rail line is a community asset that is vital to building a world-class city and a connected region for the future.

 

“The fight to save the Newcastle rail line is only just beginning – and I urge even more people to get on board.”

 

Shadow Minister for Transport Penny Sharpe added: “I know how much careful work has gone into this legal action. I believe that it has every chance of success and I congratulate Save Our Rail and the Hunter community for all their efforts.”

 

Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp stated: “We now have local, state and federal representatives opposed to cutting the rail line, plus the Australian Senate and now a NSW Government Upper House Inquiry all saying do not cut the rail line. When will this Liberal Government listen to the people of Newcastle?”

 

The application for an injunction is being lodged by Save Our Rail in the Supreme Court of NSW today. Proceedings are being sought for early next week.

 

Yesterday, an Interim Report by the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Planning Process in Newcastle and the Broader Hunter Region recommended against truncating the rail line as is currently planned.

 

“The committee is perplexed by the NSW Government’s decision to truncate the heavy rail line at Wickham on Boxing Day, given that the construction of the light rail is not expected to commence until late 2015 and there is no defined completion date. We are especially concerned that the interim transport measures will be an inferior public transport solution for the people of Newcastle and the broader Hunter.” Page (x) Interim Report, Planning Process in Newcastle and the Broader Hunter Region. Source: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/276895D301BF5FD5CA257DB1007E0223?open&refnavid=LC5_4

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