Opposition Leader Luke Foley to visit Maitland this week

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Originally published: The Maitland Mercury

By Nick Bielby

Maitland is a key election battleground in the eyes of new state Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who will visit the city during his first week in the job.

He told the Mercury he would visit Maitland and the broader Hunter Region before Sunday, but would not specify a date.

Mr Foley said Maitland was a vital seat for Labor to win at the election on March 28.

 

We need to win Maitland to form government,” he said. 

“I will be visiting Maitland as often as I can to support [Labor election candidate] Jenny Aitchison.

“It is an important message to send about my commitment to the region.”

Former opposition leader John Robertson frequently visited Maitland last year to support Ms Aitchison.

But he resigned from the job in December after revelations that he signed a letter ­vouching for Martin Place siege gunman Man Haron Monis in relation to domestic matter in 2011.

Mr Foley was elected unopposed as new leader during a caucus meeting on Monday.

He told the Mercury that he opposed the government’s plan to cut the Newcastle heavy rail line and wanted to continue to diversify the Hunter’s economy with the help of institutions including the University of Newcastle, which he called a centre of ­excellence.

“I am committed to retaining the rail line right into the centre of Newcastle,” he said.

“What should be understood is that the government’s policy for the second city of NSW [Newcastle] is based on an illegal act.”

Mr Foley said he was aware of the pressure on health, education and road infrastructure that Maitland’s projected population growth would cause.

He said he wanted to introduce uniform planning codes for schools so local councils could more easily approve new infrastructure.

Labor had criticised the Liberal government on numerous occasions last year about the extended absences of Premier Mike Baird and Sydney-based Minister for the Hunter Gladys Berejiklian from the region.

Originally published as: Opposition Leader Luke Foley to visit Maitland this week