The Premier Dilemma Backflip Circus is playing Newcastle today, offering a side-show alley of regional development ministerial announcements “across all portfolios” while under the big top, Morrie Iemma’s main act is announcing Sydney-Newcastle rail services won’t be cut after all – reversing yet another Carr decision.

Crikey received a tip about the rail backflip this morning and ABC radio had the details before Dilemma was due to visit Newcastle railway station for the compulsory media photo op. (See Bob Carr’s Media Manipulation and Stunt Guide, chapter one.) One supposes the hacks are grateful it wasn’t a sewage treatment upgrade.

It’s just part of a whole day of stunts thanks to state cabinet meeting in Newcastle. According to Regional Development Minister David Campbell: “That will be to demonstrate the Iemma Government is not just focused on issues in inner Sydney but is focused on issues across the whole of the state,” he said.

Now everyone can share the worry. The highlight for me though looks like being Dilemma’s statement that: “We’re also going to subject to detailed scrutiny the chamber of commerce’s proposal for a modified light rail.”

Right. Sydney CBD traffic is in chaos, NSW has gone through 17 transport chiefs in ten years and that will soon be 19 given there are two acting heads, but the Morrie is going to spend money and effort doing some “detailed scrutiny” of a plan to put trams in Newcastle.

We await a mono-rail for Wollongong, high-speed ferries for Taree, moving footpaths for Broken Hill and a new park bench in Rankin Springs.

Peter Fray

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