NSW Opposition Leader Arrives by Train to Hunter and Meets Commuters In First Visit as Opposition Leader

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On his first visit to the Hunter as Opposition Leader, Luke Foley today visited Hamilton Station – the scene of a Baird Government debacle – to slam the Premier for ripping out the Newcastle rail line without seeking the legal basis of an Act of Parliament.

Mr Foley arrived by train to Hamilton accompanied by Shadow Minister for the Hunter Sonia Hornery, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and Labor candidates Yasmin Catley (Swansea), Melissa Cleary (Lake Macquarie), Jenny Aitchison (Maitland) and Kate Washington (Port Stephens). 

Hamilton Station is where the Baird Government has hurriedly set up a makeshift interchange as part of its plans to rip up the rail line and dump commuters onto buses for more than two years. 

“Hamilton Station is the scene of a Baird Government debacle with commuters switching between trains and buses – severely inconveniencing their journey – and the congested streets struggling to cope,” Mr Foley said.

“The Liberal Government’s major policy for the second city in NSW is predicated on an illegal act.

“Labor has been firm on this issue – no major city in the world is ripping up a rail line, and a Labor Government will keep the train line right into the heart of Newcastle.

“What arrogance of the Baird Government to remove the rail line without community consultation, without proper interim transport arrangements, without a legal basis and without an electoral mandate.  

“It’s time for Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian to listen to the people and stop this ridiculous plan.”

Mr Foley noted that Labor has committed $750 million from the privatisation of Newcastle port to revitalise the region with upgraded infrastructure – while retaining the existing rail line.

Under a Foley Government, the port proceeds will be invested in local road and rail projects such as completing the Glendale Interchange, removing the Adamstown Gates, duplicating the Tourle Street Bridge, redeveloping the Newcastle Art Gallery and building a Newcastle Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“The Baird Government’s only vision for the Hunter is to remove public transport. Labor is offering an integrated plan to address congestion, create jobs and diversify the economy of the entire region,” Mr Foley said.

“A major focus of Labor’s plan is jobs.

“Unemployment in the Hunter is 9 per cent – well above the state average of 6 per cent.

“The projects that Labor has committed to will get the Hunter economy moving. The Newcastle Convention and Exhibition Centre alone has the potential to create hundreds of jobs in fields such as hospitality, retail, event management and construction – with flow on effects for the visitor economies of areas such as Maitland, Upper Hunter, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens.”