INSPIRED by recent revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the fight against the cutting of the heavy rail line in Newcastle returned to the streets yesterday.
About 100 protesters came from across the Hunter, Sydney and even Perth, waving placards and warning of the demise of the city.
Save Our Rail members were joined by EcoTransit Sydney representatives, as well as federal Labor member for Perth Alannah MacTiernan for the rally, which began at Newcastle station.
The ICAC fallout, which has brought down two Hunter Liberal MPs, as well as Newcastle’s lord mayor, Jeff McCloy, fuelled their fire.
‘‘What’s coming out of ICAC is that any mandate to truncate Newcastle’s rail line that the Baird government might have claimed was based on electoral fraud,’’ said Gavin Gatenby, co-convener of EcoTransit Sydney.
‘‘If that mandate ever existed, it has now evaporated. The vast majority of Novocastrians and Hunter Valley residents want the line to stay.’’
Scone architect Bev Atkinson agreed. A railway campaigner for 25 years, she said the cut would affect commuters from Scone, Dungog, Telarah and Muswellbrook, but consultation regarding the decision had not included them.
‘‘We need ICAC to change everything for us,’’ Ms Atkinson said.
‘‘We need it to buy us time to change this decision or it will mean the death of the city.’’
Ms MacTiernan, formerly the West Australian infrastructure minister who oversaw the state’s 72-kilometre rail line project from Perth to Mandurah, said the NSW government should reverse its rail cut decision. The government should also work towards a faster service between Newcastle and Sydney.
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the state was committed to the project and to revitalising Newcastle.