Liberal Steve Thomson will be the only state election candidate for Maitland who will not attend a forum on the region’s transport tomorrow night.
Mr Thomson, who has previously told the Mercury that he is in favour of the government’s move of cutting the heavy rail line into Newcastle, declined an invitation to the forum, hosted by pro-rail advocacy group Save Our Rail.
The heavy rail truncation in Newcastle will be a key issue that the candidates will address at the forum.
All candidates were invited to attend.
Candidates will each be given 15 minutes to outline their policies at the forum, with an emphasis on their transport plans.
Members of the public will then be invited to ask the candidates questions.
Maitland Save Our Rail president Kim Cross will also update the meeting on the result of the Supreme Court directions hearing regarding the rail truncation tomorrow morning.
“On Christmas Eve last year Save Our Rail won an historic victory in the Supreme Court of NSW when Justice Adams held that the NSW government cannot close the rail line into Newcastle unless it first passes legislation through both houses of Parliament in accordance with the Transport Administration Act,” she said.
“It is true that disgruntled rail passengers are justified in complaining that the judgment did not prevent the Baird government from stopping rail services at Broadmeadow and Hamilton stations on Boxing Day.
“It is also understandable if the same passengers’ hopes of having the rail service into Newcastle fell further when the Stewart Avenue crossing was tarred and pedestrian crossings were constructed with grass and concrete.
“However the fact is that diesel and electric rail services into Newcastle Station can be restored within weeks if the political will existed to do so.”
The forum will be held at St Peters church hall at 7pm tomorrow and is open to the public.