Perrottet accused of fast rail 'broken promise'
NSW Labor have accused Premier Dominic Perrottet of breaking his promise to deliver a high-speed rail line between Sydney and Newcastle, as the two parties trade barbs over infrastrucuture funding weeks out from the state election.
The NSW government recently shelved its plans for a dedicated fast rail line, after spending close to $100 million planning the project, The Guardian reported on Friday.
Asked about the cancellation, the premier equivocated, saying the government had made a series of financial decisions about rolling out its infrastructure projects.
"What you do as a government during the budget period is you make investment decisions based on the plans that you've set out," Mr Perrottet said.
He insisted the government's 'Six Cities' vision of enhancing those rail links across NSW between 2022 and 2042 remained intact.
"High speed rail is an important part of doing just that. And as you move forward, you prioritise your projects in a way that is affordable and sustainable."
Deputy Labor Leader Prue Car said the government committed to the rail project in 2018, and she called on the premier to clarify the government's position.
"(The premier) actually needs to give assurance to the people of NSW about whether this is happening or not," Ms Car told reporters on Friday.
"He has committed to this vision in the past, now he won't tell us whether he's actually committed to this in the future.
"It's another broken promise from the Liberals."
The high-speed rail project was first launched by the government in 2018, when Mr Perrottet was treasurer, and it was hoped it would cut travel times between Sydney and Newcastle from nearly three hours to less than an hour.
Meanwhile, the state's renters will breathe a sigh of relief, after the government announced it would end no-grounds evictions on Friday, and matched a series of other rental relief reforms earlier announced by the opposition.
The commitment means it will soon become illegal for landlords to kick tenants out of their homes without a reason during the next term of parliament.
On Friday, Liberal MP and former Trade Minister Stuart Ayres told reporters he had not read a parliamentary inquiry's report into the hiring of John Barilaro.
The report suggested Mr Ayres had misled the parliament.
"No one in Penrith is talking to me about that. My focus is just on the citizens in my community," Mr Ayres said.
It comes as the state's parliament entered caretaker mode ahead of the general state election on March 25, during which government activity will slow to a minimum.
On Thursday evening an Upper House committee into alleged corruption in the Hills Shire Council delivered a scathing report as one of the final acts of the 57th NSW parliament.
It included findings that Charles and Jean-Claude Perrottet, both brothers of the premier, and property developer Jean Nassif deliberately avoided the inquiry.
Mr Nassif later complained to the Sydney Morning Herald that he'd been unfairly targetted by "corrupt commissioners and ministers" after his building licences were cancelled and his daughter was separately charged with fraud.
Fair Trading Minister Victoria Dominello later dismissed these comments, saying he had no sympathy for Mr Nassif or his Toplace development.
"I work very, very closely with the building commissioner and I know the position in relation to Toplace," Mr Dominello said.
"I won't say anything further - I just hope the authorities get on top of this very fast."
Mr Nassif and Toplace won a temporary reprieve from NSW Fair Trading's licence cancellations when a tribunal in January stayed the orders until it had time to consider an appeal.
The cancellation, if upheld, will disqualify Mr Nassif from controlling a building corporation for 10 years.
The report recommended the influence of property developers on the council be probed by the state's Independent Commission Against Corruption.