The Hunter’s new representative in state Parliament says he only wants to hear from people who have something positive to say about the region.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast Scot MacDonald told a Maitland Business Chamber meeting yesterday that he did not want to discuss issues such as the controversial Newcastle rail truncation.
“We [NSW Coalition] took a bloody nose in this area at the last state election but we dodged a bullet and won the election at a government level,” he said.
“I’ll do my very best to work with whoever I need to work with but I’ll just put a qualifier on that – I’m trying to filter out people who are negative.
“If you’re negative about Maitland, if you’re a protester, if you want to revisit the history of rail truncation, go and see someone else. I’m not your man.
“My door is open if you’re positive but if you want to revisit old battles, there are probably other people you should be dealing with.”
While the Coalition won government at the March election, Labor won all but one Hunter seat.
Coalition ministers had previously said publicly that the election would effectively be a referendum on the government’s transport plans for the Hunter, which included the rail truncation.
Save Our Rail vice-president Kim Cross said she was disappointed that Mr MacDonald was unwilling to discuss the government’s plan to remove Newcastle’s heavy rail line into the CBD.
“From the election it was clear that the community rejected the government’s plans for the Hunter,” she said.
“He has an obligation to communicate with all parts of the community in a constructive manner. He has slammed the door shut in the face of Hunter residents.”
Mr MacDonald’s role replaced the former Hunter ministry, which was held by Gladys Berejiklian until April.
Premier Mike Baird rearranged his cabinet after the last election and abolished ministerial representation for all regions except Western Sydney.
Mr MacDonald, as a parliamentary secretary, will report to cabinet quarterly as the representative for the Hunter and Central Coast.
Stakeholders in the rail truncation debate are awaiting the result of multiple High Court appeals over the December closure of the rail line from Hamilton station.