Newcastle line – what’s your take?
The recent revelations out of ICAC have renewed the focus on the State Government’s plans for the Newcastle Rail line.
The line, which is due to stop running into the Newcastle CBD from Boxing Day, has been the centre of controversy since the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian first announced the plan to truncate the line at Wickham – but the fallout from ICAC in the past weeks has turned the spotlight back on the process.
The current ICAC investigation has found that two Hunter Liberal MPs were involved in electoral fraud, admitting to accepting thousands of dollars from banned political donors. Newcastle’s Lord Mayor, Jeff McCloy, has also stepped aside as a result of ICAC’s findings which alleged that he made payments of $10,000 each to the two MPs.
The revelations and the MPs and Mayor’s subsequent resignations has raised further concerns about the motivation behind ripping up the rail line, particularly given that many parties, including the RTBU, have said from the very outset that the plan will benefit developers at the expense of the travelling public.
Local residents say that even if there was ever a mandate to cut the line and introduce light rail, the ICAC revelations show that it was based on electoral fraud and that it longer stands.
What’s your take on the situation? Labor has said that it will reopen the line, if its still in running order, if elected in March – would that be a wise move? Or is the Government’s plan for Newcastle an opportunity for revitalisation?