Newcastle’s heavy rail services should be immediately reinstated and all planning decisions about land in city should be handed to Newcastle City Council, a parliamentary committee has recommended.
The upper house inquiry into Newcastle planning decisions released its final report on Tuesday after five months of investigations and public hearings.
The inquiry has mostly focused on the state government’s decision to cut the heavy rail line into Newcastle CBD and establish a light rail network and major transport interchange.
The multi-party committee released two findings and nine recommendations as a result of the inquiry.
It found that Hunter Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes “had a significant and ongoing conflict of interest in being a landowner at Wickham and having a managerial role in the NSW Government’s decision to truncate the Newcastle rail line at Wickham, a decision from which Mr Hawes stands to financially benefit”.
The second finding noted that the HDC board “Failed to adequately address the conflict of interest of Mr Robert Hawes, and this failure has damaged public confidence in the integrity of the Hunter Development Corporation and public decision making in Newcastle and the broader Hunter Region”.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption said late last month that it would not investigate Mr Hawes' role in the rail decision.
The Nile report did not accuse Mr Hawes or any MPs of corruption.
The report recommended that Newcastle City Council should take over from the state government as the planning authority for land in Newcastle city, including land owned or managed by HDC.
It also recommended that the government immediately reinstate infrastructure that has recently been removed from the rail corridor as well as the heavy rail service into the CBD.
More in tomorrow’s Mercury.