Fassifern to Hexham Rail Corridor

24th May 2018

Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 15:30 ): If I can give some advice, questions should have gone to the crossbench earlier. It would have helped.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Lake Macquarie did not seek the call. He might have received a nice surprise.

Mr GREG PIPER: I thought we would have got a nod and a wink. My question is directed to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. Noting that the Government allocated $11.8 million towards planning for the Fassifern to Hexham rail bypass in last year's budget, will the Minister update the House on progress, including when we might see pressure taken off the Sydney to Newcastle passenger line by delivering that infrastructure?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I appreciate the question asked by the member for Lake Macquarie. He does not know how much I appreciate his question.

M rs MELINDA PAVEY ( OxleyMinister for Roads, Maritime and Freight) (15:31): I thank the member for Lake Macquarie for his question. I know he is a proud member of the Hunter and he represents the Hunter incredibly well. The Hunter is made up of great people—a lot of migrant people who came to the Hunter post-World War II. They worked at BHP Steel and Commonwealth Steel. I know the member for Lake Macquarie is a good man and we are grateful that in April he announced that he is re-contesting his seat at the next election. We wish him well.

Mr Greg Piper: Point of order: Is there a mercy clause in the standing orders?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Minister is proceeding with her answer.

Mrs MELINDA PAVEY: In last year's budget we committed $11 million to investigate the separation of the passenger and freight lines into Newcastle. We made that important decision because a lot of work is involved in dealing with local government, council, Roads and Maritime Services and Transport to identify the corridors. That investment is a signal that we are determined to continue improving infrastructure in the Hunter, even light rail. When I was walking along Hunter Street recently, I felt a great vibe. The people of the Hunter are excited that this Government is investing in the Hunter like it has never been invested in before. It is important that we do the groundwork on the freight line. I am pleased that it is progressing well. We will have a one-on-one briefing with the member for Lake Macquarie soon to bring him up to date. It is important for him to see how the money is being spent on behalf of the region. It is an important project for the future. The best way to ensure that that project starts as soon as possible is for the member for Lake Macquarie to keep Coalition members on the Treasury benches. We will ensure that we manage the money well so that we can continue our record infrastructure building program in New South Wales.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The Clerk will stop the clock.

Mrs MELINDA PAVEY: I have finished my answer.

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