Mike Baird’s retirement met with smiles by Hunter Workers and Rail Tram and Bus Union
Reported in the Newcastle Herald: News of Mike Baird’s retirement has been met with smiles and delight among some union representatives, who say the outgoing NSW Premier would not be missed in the Hunter Region.
Chris Preston, the NSW divisional secretary of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, said Baird’s “disgraceful” legacy for Newcastle would be the “death of public transport in the second largest city in NSW”.
Mr Preston said he wished Mr Baird’s retirement had happened much sooner.
“If Mike Baird had jumped ship 18 months ago, who knows? We might have kept Newcastle buses and ferries in public hands,” Mr Preston said.
“I was quite pleased to hear he is leaving politics.
“Let’s hope the incoming premier has a more sympathetic view to the public sector workers and the jobs that they do.
“He privatised most of the state, or tried to at least, and public sector workers definitely don’t enjoy privatisation.”
Secretary of Hunter Workers, Daniel Wallace, echoed those sentiments, adding that Baird had short-changed the Hunter.
Mr Wallace said Mr Baird’s privatisation of the Port of Newcastle, electricity assets and public transport had removed the Hunter’s connection to the rest of the state.
“He has pretty much sold the farm,” Mr Wallace said.
“In his press release, he said he’d set things up for the next generation, but I don’t think those assets being in private hands is going to help the next generation or have a big effect beyond that.
“If you look at the sale of the port, they got $1.7 billion for it. The deal they had at the time was that Newcastle was meant to get half of that money, and we only got about a quarter of it.
“He didn’t honour that commitment.
“We were short changed.”
Mr Wallace said he hoped NSW and the Hunter were not “naive enough” to think the problems would go once Mr Baird left parliament.
“As much as the Hunter has a plan for growth, the economic plan was to build light rail in Newcastle and the people would come – the Field of Dreams argument,” Mr Wallace said.
“But in reality, what we need is infrastructure that gets people from one side of the lake to the other, and to fix up the bottlenecks like Hexham and City Road. They are smaller problems now, but if we don’t fix it now and get the funds for it, then we might end up with the bottlenecks Sydney has got.
“We are the second biggest city in NSW – we deserve a lot more than two visits a year and a light rail that a lot of people didn’t want.”
Read the original story in the Newcastle Herald.