Victor P Taffa
“Government of the people for the people by the people” When was the last time that this occurred especially in the provision of services? In the case of Willow Tree, Cardiff and Newcastle the needs of the local communities are ignored and of course there is a denial that a Government neglects electorates with large margins.
Willow Tree is a thriving community in the safe National Party seat of Upper Hunter. As such Willow Tree is in the Upper Hunter Valley. Willow Tree has the New England Highway and the railway line with a railway station.
Some years ago Willow Tree and the railway station were split in two following the erection of a chain wire fence. The level crossing that also existed was removed. To compensate a level crossing was installed approximately 350 m south of the railway station.
This level crossing is not only inadequate but dangerous to local residents and motorists. The level crossing has no boom gates or pedestrian access. Street lighting is also poor. Willow Tree residents have taken up petitions requesting improved access to the station.
Provision can be made in the safety fence for a Pedestrian only Crossing at the Railway Station with adequate fencing and gates that opens and closes when trains approach.
Commuters needs to be Front and Centre of Decision Making.
The provision of a pedestrian bridge is clearly needed to join the community with the railway station. Many throw their arms in the air and cry ‘lack of money.’ Money will always be issues however will is required to find the money.
The Hunter Development Corporation is keen to develop Newcastle and supports roads over railway lines. Has the publicly listed G.P.T.in coordination with the State Government Hunter Development Corporation considered a plan for a pedestrian bridge that connects the railway station with the community?
The pedestrian bridge could also cross over the busy New England Highway and be paid for by external advertising. Is the Roads and Traffic Authority working with Rail Corp and Liverpool Plains Council on this issue for the betterment of the community?
Cardiff is in the safe Labor seat of Wallsend. Cardiff railway station has a single island platform with a pedestrian footbridge and a road bridge with no pedestrian access. Cardiff residents have long called for a lift to be installed at the station. Time and again the provision of a lift has been placed on the back burner.
According to City Rail data from the Hunter Development Corporation that I obtained Cardiff ranks at Number 7 for Commuter in/out statistics for stations North of Wyong. The 24 hour in/out figures for Cardiff is 1,180 and ranked No.7.
As I stood on Cardiff railway station the numbers of passengers waiting for rail services certainly warranted the provision of a lift. The lack of the provision of lifts maybe an isolated incident however when other issues are taken into account it would appear that the area is taken for granted by the Government.
At the nearby intersection of Harrison Street and Main Road vision is impaired for motorists attempting to enter onto Main Road. The road bridge that crosses the railway line without pedestrian access is aligned at an angle that increases the downhill speed of vehicles.
The accident statistics for this intersection were not available and it is obvious that the slope of the roadway from the road bridge to the intersection with Harrison Street is a problem of safety for both motorists and residents alike.
Again this intersection is not an isolated issue for the residents of Cardiff. As I drove across the road bridge and along Main Road this busy transport artery was cut in two by large dividing walls. I proceeded along the road and pulled up at the newsagency.
According to local residents road works “has been held up by rain and have been going on for months.” The local residents and I remarked that there has been very little rain for months.
The Cardiff railway station lift issue has been dogged by suggestions that the station would close when the nearby Glendale transport interchange was built. Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery supports the provision of lifts at Cardiff and neighboring Charlestown MP Matthew Morris supports the Glendale interchange.
One should ask why both Cardiff and Glendale can’t have a lift and a transport interchange. The Charlestown Square shopping centre is owned by G.P.T. and on their website have as their intention to redevelop Newcastle without a railway station.
Along with the State Government Hunter Development Corporation the question of interest revolves around the bias against railways. Why do seemingly wealthy companies support the closure of a railway line as the answer to making rivers of money?
Newcastle is in the safe Labor seat of Newcastle. Until the 2007 State election the seat had been held by Labor MP Bryce Gaudry. Due to the fact that Gaudry supported the retention of the Newcastle Railway, the National executive of the Labor Party disendorsed Gaudry for the 2007 election and effectively expelled the Carrington branch of the party that contained longtime sitting member Arthur Wade.
Local newsreader Jodi Mckay was parachuted into the seat and yet the railway provides a very important service to residents throughout the Hunter Valley. New South Wales was built on the back of the railway and tramway.
With an aging population railways will increasingly be required.
The big argument that is used against the Newcastle Railway is connectivity and the level crossings. The same Labor Government who seeks to close the Newcastle railway also removed many level crossings. The Labor Party, Hunter Development Corporation and land developers have more holes in their arguments that that contained in a block of Swiss cheese.
On the one hand these minority groups cannot claim that the Newcastle railway is impairing the development of Newcastle and on the other hand ignore the need for a pedestrian bridge at Willow Tree, lifts at Cardiff station, traffic lights and road improvements at Cardiff and a transport interchange at Glendale.
Planning by Government for the needs of the community must be consistent. If it is not consistent then it is not planning at all. A holistic approach by the Hunter Development Corporation, Labor Government and Labor developers should consider the broader community and not contain a hidden agenda that favours a small group.
If there was not a hidden agenda why was a sitting member of Parliament disendorsed and Labor’s Carrington branch effectively expelled?
As the saying goes:
“You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.”
The people of the Hunter have long supported Labor but who is supporting the people?