KEY crossbench MPs from the Shooters and Fishers Party have imposed conditions on their support for a government bill to close the Newcastle rail line, including that an extra $50 million be tipped into the city centre project.
The support of the two MPs is crucial to the government securing passage of the bill through the upper house, given Labor, the Greens and other crossbench MPs have indicated they will oppose the bill.
It would officially close the heavy rail line at Wickham, enabling the government to remove the tracks into Newcastle, use some of the rail corridor for light rail instead and to potentially sell or develop the rest of the land.
During debate in the Legislative Council on Wednesday morning, Shooters MP Robert Brown called on the government to boost the project’s total budget to $510 million using more money from the Port of Newcastle lease proceeds.
He and colleague Robert Borsak also want the government:
- to enact legislation before the end of this year to hypothecate all of the proceeds of any future development on the current heavy rail corridor into the government’s Newcastle urban renewal strategy
-to use its ‘‘best endeavours’’ to obtain tenders from Hunter manufacturers to supply the light rail stock
-to design the rolling stock to address the needs of passengers with prams, fishing rods, surfboards and bikes
- to immediately start work on a business case for the expansion of the light rail network to Broadmeadow, Hunter Stadium, Adamstown and Mayfield.
Mr Brown said the Shooters and Fishers believed the removal of the heavy rail was ‘‘critical to the modernisation of the Newcastle peninsular’’.
But: ‘‘If the government is not prepared to meet our conditions, then all bets are off and we will vote against this legislation’’, he said.
The debate is continuing.