http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/story/1189419/save-our-rail-chief-accuses-mp-of-slapping-residents-in-the-face/?cs=171Save Our Rail chief accuses MP of slapping residents in the face
By Belinda-Jane Davis Dec 17, 2012, 4am
Maitland MP Robyn Parker has betrayed the people of Maitland with her secret support of the truncation of the Maitland-Newcastle rail line at Wickham, Save Our Rail president Joan Dawson said.
Ms Dawson said Ms Parker’s conduct was a slap in the face to Maitland residents because she had openly stated while in opposition that she wanted the railway line retained and vowed to fight for it if elected.
Ms Dawson said Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard’s remarks that Liberal MPs across the Hunter – including Ms Parker and Upper Hunter MP George Souris – unanimously wanted the rail line cut to allow revitalisation of Newcastle CBD to occur showed that Newcastle rated higher on Ms Parker’s priorities list than her own electorate.
“Maitland people have continually stated publicly that they need the rail line into Newcastle,” she said.
“Save Our Rail invited all of the candidates to a meeting and she said she supported it and would fight for it.
“She has broken her promise and she needs to have a good look in the mirror and think about her previous statements and who she is representing.”
Mr Hazzard announced on Friday that the railway line will be cut west of Stewart Avenue and a state-of-the-art interchange where commuters were transferred from trains onto buses to complete their journey into the CBD would be built.
The timetable for this to happen is within three to five years.
Mr Hazzard said the truncation was part of a broader plan to revitalise Newcastle CBD and $120 million had been allocated to the project from the Hunter Infrastructure Fund.
The federal government will be asked to contribute a further $100 million.
Mr Hazzard emphasised the government was merely moving the bus interchange that already existed at Newcastle to Wickham station and this would make public transport services more efficient.
But he could not provide any indication of how long it would take commuters to travel from Wickham to the CBD by bus, although he was adamant that it would be quicker.
Mr Hazzard, Newcastle MP Tim Owen, Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann and Hunter Business Chamber CEO Kristen Keegan said Maitland people should be jumping for joy because their transport options would be enhanced.
He confirmed Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian also supported the move.
Opposition Leader John Robertson made a fleeting visit to Newcastle on Friday to hold a press conference in response to the government’s announcement.
He said Maitland people deserved better than a terminated rail line and a second-rate bus option.
Ms Parker defended the claims against her saying her view on the issue was well-known and she had argued her views in cabinet.
“I have maintained the same position all along but I abide by cabinet decisions - it was a cabinet decision and I am a member of cabinet,” she said.
Ms Parker said Mr Hazzard had phoned her on Friday afternoon with assurances that Maitland people would be taken care of through the efficient bus system.
“It will give people good transport options by terminating the rail line at Wickham because they will have options to go further afield on buses,” she said.
“I’m keen to see Newcastle redeveloped - development needs to happen.”
Ms Parker said the people of Maitland needed to focus on ensuring the promised transport connections were delivered. Save Our Rail will hold a meeting on Wednesday in response to the rail cut announcement at the Station Hotel in Hamilton at 5pm and encouraged anyone who wanted the rail line retained to attend.
She said representatives from Labor, the Greens, Socialist Alliance, Shooters and Fishers, and the Christian Democrats would be there.
The meeting will be a prelude to a rally at Parliament House in Sydney on February 19.