NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley makes first visit to Newcastle since taking top job

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Originally published: Newcastle Herald

By Ian Kirkwood

New state opposition leader Luke Foley says Labor’s policy of keeping the heavy rail to Newcastle but with ‘‘better connectivity’’ is the best solution for the future of the city.

‘‘It’s a new solution to an old debate,’’ Mr Foley said at a media conference outside Hamilton railway station.

Having caught a train from Wyong to Hamilton, Mr Foley congratulated Save Our Rail for their work – describing the organisation’s figurehead, Joan Dawson, as ‘‘heroic’’.

Mr Foley called on the state government to reconsider its rail plan ‘‘in light of the court’s decision’’ and said that cutting the line was ‘‘predicated on an illegal act’’.

‘‘I don’t want Newcastle to be the only city anywhere in the first world to be ripping up rail infrastructure,’’ Mr Foley said.

‘‘I want us to be improving our rail infrastructure.’’

“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 said he had spoken at length with former Newcastle MP Jodi McKay – Labor’s candidate for Strathfield – and said she was ‘‘entirely supportive’’ of Labor’s policy.

Ms McKay had been widely quoted after losing her seat as supporting the rail line cut.

Mr Foley said he had been determined to visit the Hunter Region early in his days as opposition leader and was visiting Maitland and Raymond Terrace during Thursday’s visit. 

He is scheduled to visit Raymond Terrace and Maitland during the visit.

Originally published as: NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley makes first visit to Newcastle since taking top job