Friday, March 25, 2011

Crunch day for Liberals on Newcastle rail line issue, say Greens

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Newcastle Greens

25 March 2011

Crunch day for Liberals on Newcastle rail line issue, say Greens

The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, today called on the Liberal candidate Tim Owen to fulfil repeated commitments he made at candidate forums to release details on his position on the future of the Newcastle rail line.

“On the eve of election day, we’ve still heard nothing more from Mr Owen and the Coalition about what they propose for the future of the Newcastle rail line and about how they would improve public transport in Newcastle, despite his commitments to do so,” Mr Sutton said.

“Whenever Mr Owen was questioned about the rail line at candidate forums he repeatedly said that he and the Coalition would be making a statement on the issue ‘later in the campaign’.

“It will be a very inauspicious beginning to the expected new Coalition government for them to have broken such a clear commitment to voters on such a major local issue before voters even go to the poll tomorrow,” Mr Sutton said.

“A broken promise on this issue will simply reinforce the fears of many voters that they can’t trust what the Coalition is saying.

“Earlier this week, The Greens released their transport policy for Newcastle and Wallsend, reaffirming their commitment to keeping the Newcastle rail line, and outlining a set of other positive proposals that would get public transport in the Hunter back on track.

“Voters know that the Labor candidate, Jodi McKay, has failed to deliver on public transport, and that the key independent candidate for Newcastle, John Tate, is also on the record as supporting cuts to local rail services.

“Early in the campaign, Mr Owen said that he supported cutting the Newcastle rail line, that he favoured ‘a light rail option’ as an alternative, and that further information would follow.

“Since then – despite these repeated promises to say more – there’s been complete silence on this issue from Mr Owen.

“Mr Owen and the Coalition can’t expect to be taken seriously as a contender for the seat of Newcastle if they are not prepared to say what they intend to do about public transport in Newcastle generally, and about the Newcastle rail line in particular.

“Mr Owen now has one last opportunity to demonstrate that he’s not beholden to the big-end-of-town interests behind the city’s anti-rail push by supporting the retention of the rail line and inter-city rail services, and is committed – like The Greens – to real change to improving public transport in Newcastle,” Mr Sutton said.