Scot MacDonald MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter
Did Paul Scott have a lemon for breakfast when he submitted 'Futurey interchange for suited and booted city' (Herald 16/10/17)?
It was an opinion piece heavy on cynicism and cuteness casting aspersions on anyone associated with the new Newcastle Interchange. Making comparisons with projects in Spain and a walkway in Sydney. Phew. Hope he didn't kick the house cat on the way to work that morning.
The Interchange and Light Rail is a generational change for Newcastle. It was always going to be contested. A project of this magnitude was always going to be subject to modifications and improvements as it got underway. What didn't change was the NSW Liberal National Government commitment to the revitalisation of the city and its ailing transport modes and infrastructure.
Business as usual couldn't continue. Labor wouldn't or couldn't do it when they were in power. With utilisation of public transport running at less than 4% and a lack of confidence in the city up to 2011, it would have been derelict to turn our back on Newcastle.
Newcastle and the Hunter region is too important to ignore. But the CBD desperately needed revitalisation including removing the divisive, investment killing heavy rail.
The Interchange is the first milestone. At $200 million, it is one of the largest single public infrastructure investments in the region. And there is another $450 million to follow. That includes an extra $150million following community consultation that helped make the case for no overhead wires for light rail.
As Minister Constance remarked at the opening of the Interchange on Monday, the negativity is a thing of the past. The battles are over. The political opportunism of the ALP is a matter for the historians and voters in 2019.
Let's now turn our energies into making Newcastle Transport work and planning next steps for all modes of public and private transport using traditional and emerging technologies.
My advise to Paul would be to avoid the sour citrus for breakfast and experiment with some of the great new cafes across the Hunter.