Parties at war over rail promises
PROMISES by both major political parties to restore the Murwillumbah-Casino train service have sparked a war of words between the Tweed's two main contenders for next year's state election.
Labor's Tweed MP Neville Newell accused the NSW National Party of continuing to mislead local residents over the issue in the wake of the state Labor government's promise this week to spend $75 million to reopen the rail line if the Coalition federal government matched it.
Mr Newell said Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport John Watkins on Tuesday had personally briefed local Nationals on the proposal "and why the Opposition's claim it could resume services faster was unachievable".
The minister, he said, had also provided the Nationals with an information package and invited them to contact his office for further details.
The Iemma government, Mr Newell said, had "put forward the $150 million plan (half of it state funding) in good faith - and it's a fair dinkum opportunity".
The federal government, he said, had previously made a commitment to help bring the trains back and "now it's time to work together.
"What doesn't help is the state Opposition's foray into this debate with deliberately misleading claims and unachievable promises," Mr Newell said.
But NSW Nationals' Tweed candidate Geoff Provest hit back, saying Mr Watkins had approached him about the issue during the state Cabinet meeting and he had disagreed with him.
"We can't forget that Labor closed the rail service and it is Labor that must put it back," Mr Provest said.
"There are no strings attached to the Nationals' commitment to restore a passenger service, unlike Labor's belated and hollow promise," he said.
"Labor is clearly playing political games, which is the last thing the people of the Tweed want - they want action on the rail service and they want it now.
"The Iemma Labor government seems deaf to the pleas of the Tweed electorate on this matter and yesterday I made it clear to Mr Watkins that the State government should get on with it.
"The government now seems to be in panic mode after callously cancelling the service and sitting on their hands for two years - the people of the Tweed won't be bought off by last-minute hollow promises and political stunts by Labor".