(CityRail train passing through Newtown, NSW)
It isn’t only in Newcastle that shockwaves from Newcastle Station’s closure have been felt.
Since Christmas, the impact of the NSW government’s actions to open up the Newcastle rail corridor for development has left countless Upper Hunter families gasping at what this means for them - and they know it ain’t going to be pretty.
Barring the National Party candidate who was too busy to attend, other would-be-candidate-hopefuls for next month’s NSW State election met with concerned Upper Hunter residents in Muswellbrook last week to listen to community sorrow and anger as one of their few accessible life-lines to the city has been systematically destroyed.
Residents expressed their displeasure at the legal hoop-la the NSW government has embarked upon to avoid provisions of the Transport Administration Act which forbids cutting of a railway line except by an Act of Parliament. No-one in the Upper Hunter is impressed by the government’s attempt to vest ownership to the Hunter Development Corporation for railway acquisition purposes nor by their partnership with General Property Trust under the auspices of the government owned Urban Growth NSW. No-one in the Upper Hunter is fooled … no-one.
To a candidate (excluding the National Party one who was not there due to ‘busyness’ commitments), they promised reinstatement of railway lines if elected and manna from heaven - and perhaps we can believe them ... can we?
But it was the stories shared by residents of their life-journeys on the Hunter line that revealed the true extent of the blow dealt by the NSW government to this rural community yet again. The sick and their health appointments, the grandparents and their outings with grandchildren, the students and their classes, the families and their shopping trips, the rites of ‘unaccompanied-teenage’ passage as their families allow them to take the train to the beach (I well remember letting my four go for the first time), none of these trips will be possible anymore if the NSW government has its way and destroys our public asset, our essential rural connection to our city.
Just maybe the fate of the Queensland LNP will be a salutary reminder to Macquarie Street … because given that this government has stopped listening to us as they sell off our railway and our lives, come March we will probably kick them out too.
(Cross-posted at Scone Blog)