The people of Maitland will finally have their voices heard after a parliamentary committee to investigate planning decisions in Newcastle, including the rail cut, was established.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge moved the motion in the upper house of NSW Parliament yesterday to establish a select committee to investigate how recent planning decisions have been made in the Hunter including the T4 coal loader and the truncation of the Newcastle rail line.
Mr Shoebridge said it was a good outcome for the people of Maitland.
“It shows that if given a shove parliament can do it,” he said.
“From what the people of Maitland have told me and my colleagues is that no one wants to catch the train almost to Newcastle.”
Mr Shoebridge said the committee would call for submissions in the coming days before putting down hearing dates, including dates in the Hunter.
“I would encourage anyone who is concerned about these planning decisions to put a submission in to ensure their voice is heard,” he said.
The Mercury has been running a campaign, Save Hunter Rail, with sister publications in the greater Hunter in recent weeks to encourage the government to delay the rail closure until after the March election.
It began after a groundswell of residents from Maitland, Dungog and beyond expressed concern that the closure would make it difficult for them to access Newcastle, because they had few alternative transport options.
Greens NSW MP and Transport spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi said it was a win for Maitland and described the truncating of the Newcastle rail line at Wickham and replacing it with light rail as illogical and disastrous.
“The people of the Hunter Region were never consulted on the decision to truncate the Newcastle rail line,” she said.
“This Upper House inquiry will be a mechanism for the community to get some answers and find out why and for whom the government is truncating the rail line.
“Finally, the Hunter community will have a say in properly scrutinising the decision of the Coalition government to remove the Newcastle rail line.”