Mike Baird tells parliament he won’t guarantee the Newcastle rail corridor won’t be handed to developers

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Premier Mike Baird has told Parliament this afternoon that he will not issue a guarantee that his Government will keep the Newcastle Rail corridor free from development. 

In a heated Question Time on the Government’s decision to cut the Newcastle Rail Line on Boxing Day and attempt to run buses from Hamilton, Premier Baird first failed to provide a guarantee about keeping the rail line free from development and then in the third question of the day from Labor, definitely ruled out providing one.

  • Question by Shadow Minister for the Hunter Sonia Hornery: “My question is to the Premier. Will you give the people of the Hunter a say in their future and hold off any move to terminate the Newcastle Rail Line until after the March general election – and will you guarantee the corridor won’t be handed over to property developers?”

  • Answer from Premier Mike Baird: “No.”
    “The Liberals are cutting the Newcastle rail line as a Christmas present for a very small, vocal band of property

    developers – and the Premier’s answer to Parliament confirmed it,” Opposition Leader John Robertson said.

    “This is a Government that has abandoned the Hunter and is not even running candidates at Saturday’s by- election yet it expects people to have confidence in its decision to cut the rail line and dump them onto buses for more than two years.

    “Mike Baird is ripping up the rail line without an electoral mandate and sentencing people to two years of frustrating, makeshift buses. That is the ultimate act of vandalism.

    “Instead of bringing in the bulldozers on Boxing Day, he should wait until people have their say at the ballot box.”

    After Question Time, the Government used its numbers to shut down a motion moved by Labor MP for Cessnock Clayton Barr condemning the Government for shunting people onto buses and Minister for the Hunter Gladys Berejiklian for not being in the Hunter to announce the news personally.

    Labor’s motion criticised the Government for wasting $340 million on removing public transport instead of improving it; and selling out the wider Hunter by blowing out journey times between Newcastle, Maitland, Cessnock and the Upper Hunter.

    Labor also called on the Government to defer its plans to cut the Newcastle Rail Line until after the March election.

    Earlier today, Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney visited Hamilton train station where surrounding Beaumont Street was packed with congestion at 11am the site intended to be flooded with buses. She later met with Labor Candidates Tim Crakanthorp (Newcastle), Jodie Harrison (Charlestown) and Jenny Aitchison (Maitland).

Ms Burney said: “Hamilton train station is gridlock in the middle of the day let alone in peak hour. How on earth there are going to be buses manoeuvring in and out of there every 10 to 15 minutes is beyond me. Gladys Berejiklian has clearly never been to Hamilton and is making this up on the fly.”

The Minister should have been up here instead of imperiously announcing decisions about Hunter public transport remotely from Sydney.” 

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