Coalition accused of neglecting region

THE state opposition has used the two-year anniversary of the O’Farrell government’s election – and NSW Labor’s historic defeat – to accuse the Coalition of failing the Hunter with health and education cuts and plans to remove inner Newcastle’s rail line.

In state parliament on Tuesday, Labor’s Hunter spokeswoman Linda Burney tried to move a priority motion condemning the government for its neglect of the region, in a demonstration of how badly the party wants back some of its traditional Hunter seats it lost in 2011.

Labor also released a report card listing areas where it said the government had failed, with plans to cut heavy rail services out of the inner city at the top.

Criticism of the rail decision led to uproar in Parliament from some of the region’s Liberal MPs who yelled Labor had failed for years to make a decision on its future when in government.

Ms Burney said the government’s $1.7billion education cuts were having a huge impact on TAFE courses in the region and threatened the viability of the Newcastle Art School, and a program to fix rundown  classrooms had been axed leaving the Hunter with 676 demountables.

Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery said Premier Barry O’Farrell was rarely seen in Newcastle because his record for the region  was ‘‘shocking’’.

The government had its own glossy report card ready listing the recruitment of 412 new nurses and 131 extra police officers for the Hunter among its achievements.

Mr O’Farrell said health savings were being made to office positions to allow reinvestment in frontline services.

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