Familes and communities before street races

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Assistant secretary of the Newcastle East Residents Group (NERG) Karen Read addressed Newcastle Trades Hall (Hunter Workers) recently about the supercars race scheduled to run through Newcastle’s historic East end in November.

Read fielded questions about residents needing to be credentialled to enter their own homes, the needs of the elderly, contacts with other groups such as Save Albert Park and the lengthy period of construction and dismantling of race infrastructure. Below is her address.

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NERG was established as a result of collaboration between the Newcastle Trades Hall Council and residents to save the East End’s history and heritage from bulldozers in the early 1970s.

As a member of a trade union I value that history and the successful partnership that resulted in green bans and the eventual creation of the Newcastle East Heritage Conservation Precinct.

I must stress that NERG takes no position on political or sporting grounds. As a group, we are not aligned to any political party and we respect that people follow a variety of sports.

Our issue is simply the location of the Supercar race that is scheduled to run through our streets and parks in November and for up to 10 years after that. Our Heritage Precinct is a totally inappropriate site.

We are focused on protecting our close-knit community. It is comprised of retirees, pensioners, public housing residents, professionals, small business owners, workers and trade union members.

Consultation has always been our preferred option. However, if we look to the recent past, the government has not engaged in genuine consultation about running light rail down Hunter Street, building on the former rail corridor, privatisating the port and privatising public transport.

There was also no consultation about turning Newcastle East Heritage Conservation Precinct into a racetrack.

We are very concerned about the health and safety of our elderly, our children and our community. Our medical research shows we should be concerned.

We want answers about excessive noise levels, access to our homes, safety risks, structural integrity, access for support services and the likely economic losses for the many small businesses inside the circuit. We want to see data and risk assessments.

We deserve genuine answers that are not made up and continually changed by Destination NSW and Supercars from week to week.

Newcastle has good reason not to trust the government’s promises. It says it has the best interests of Newcastle at heart and yet, it enacted special legislation that removes many of our fundamental human rights. We are just seeking open and honest consultation about the Supercars race.

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