WE are where we are.
It is what it is.
That first bit of homespun wisdom we are where we are is the leading contender for the 2018 Newcastle Fair Dinks Thanks Champ award and was offered by outgoing Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter ScoMac. The second sound bite came from staying-put Member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp.
Both sound bites are polly waffle offered on 2HDs breakfast show in response to the Newcastle Urban Transformation and Transport Program Report by the Auditor-General for New South Wales.
Radio listeners didnt hear from NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who was happy to throw Revitalising Newcastle CEO Michael Cassel under a privatised bus (surely one that belongs to Keolis Downers numerically declining passenger service, which coincidentally the A-G found last month provides a less reliable service than it did when in public hands) and do Constances its all good bidding on ABC Newcastle. Cassel toed the government line, as he has done since day one, while reaping the rewards of anointment to CEO-this and CEO-that. Hes the governments face of a light rail punt that punted process. Yes, yes, as the A-G pointed out, the process got better with the passing of time, but its hardly a miracle for poo to stink less after a couple of years in the sun.
The overtly political tone in the statement by a Revitalising Newcastle spokesperson to the Herald (Trams $368m price tag unjustified: audit 13/12) that ten years ago Newcastle sent the government a message: fix our city is the repetition of a Liberal-aligned campaign spruik. Newcastle sent a message? No, Liberal operatives sent a message. Surely that politicised message leaves an incoming Labor state government with no option other than to prioritise whether Revitalising Newcastle and the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation are, to use a beloved LNP refrain, fit for purpose.
The Trumpish Constance, with a hide thicker than Nellie the Elephant, will arrive before the state election to cut the tram ribbon and offer another wacky-guy routine to demean whinger-in-chief Crakanthorp, while conveniently ignoring that the A-Gs report exonerated Crackas much-maligned concerns about probity, process and procurement related to the tram.
I remain unconvinced light rail will reduce car travel in the city and that brings me no joy. But my shrivelled heart dances when I read former lord mayor Jeff McCloy surely the citys most influential heavy rail removal enthusiast moan about a lack of parking in the city, carp about the route of the light rail and howl that the blue stone pavers in Hunter Street are crap.
I brush away tears of laughter sparked by uncontrollable schadenfreude when reading McCloys bellyaching about parking while he simultaneously ponies up for a survey to prove more parking is required in the city. Asking Novocastrians if they want more parking in the city is like asking drunks if they want more booze. They dont need it, but they think they want it.
If the light rail is going to be useful rather than useless, the city needs far fewer on-street parking spots. The City of Newcastles CEO and the lord mayor must stop having two bob each-way spruiking the sustainable and liveable global city albeit one without a cinema while ignoring provision of a comprehensive parking strategy that eliminates drivers believing a no-charge all-day or half-day on-street park within a whisker of the city centre can be easily jagged. Forget about Transport for NSW solutions for parking in Newcastle theyre a factory for bad ideas driven by announcements.
Contrary to McCloys view, there remains plenty of available parking in the city and the evidence is readily available. But when will Revitalising Newcastle and the City of Newcastle cotton-on that blurting there is plenty of city parking only encourages more cars? What isnt readily available is unlimited free street-parking outside the planned destination that the theres no parking wailers wish to attend at the same moment. Despite the A-Gs report, there remain tram cult believers who dont care what anyone says, the light rail sparked Newcastles investment boom. Tis the season to perpetuate myths. Virgin birth. Santa Claus. Bike lanes. Light rail economic boom. Bah humbug.
Perhaps one day the A-G will report on the City of Newcastle and Destination NSWs deal with Supercars, because secrecy with public funds sans business case is not the lone preserve of the NSW LNP. Hopefully, Lord Mayor Nelmes brain fart for a skate bowl on South Newcastle beach will evaporate unsmelt in summers north-easterlies, perhaps sparing the A-G yet another inquiry emanating from substantial waste of public monies punted in the future jewel of the Asia-Pacific.
We are where we are. It is what it is.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.