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Newcastle’s light rail project will be delivered within budget, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said during a visit to the city on Tuesday.
It comes after the Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that Labor Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp believed the state government was “hiding something” after it refused his freedom of information request for documents related to the cost of the project.
When asked on Tuesday whether she could assure the community that light rail would be delivered within budget, she responded: “Of course”.
“Not just that, I wish he [Mr Crakanthorp] and others would get on board because every time I come up here the community is so enthusiastic and excited about that.
“The most frequent thing I get about the light rail is ‘can you expand it? We want to see it go further,’ and that’s certainly what we are looking at.”
Ms Berejiklian was in Newcastle to address a Hunter Business Chamber meeting after the 2017-18 budget, which was handed down last month.
Critics of the Berejiklian government’s first budget said it lacked new spending in the Hunter and money earmarked for the region was largely for ongoing projects like the light rail and new Maitland Hospital.
The Premier told the chamber meeting on Tuesday that the government was focused on record spending in health and education and that “a strong Hunter – a strong Newcastle – is so vital to a strong NSW”.
“What excites me more than anything, as the Premier of NSW, is allowing each region to reach its full potential,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Perhaps what frustrates me more than anything is people who would prefer us to sit back and do nothing and not change anything because if you don’t do anything, you’re not going to change circumstances.
“You need to have a proactive agenda, you need to be very clear on where you’re going and you need to bring the community with you.”
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said the region had good qualifications to respond to the “certainty” in investment and outcomes that the government was building.
Earlier, Ms Berejiklian visited Toronto to inspect the newly opened police station.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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