Labor is calling on the Premier to stand by her promise of late last year to consider rental assistance for small businesses impacted by the delayed construction of Newcastle’s light rail ahead of a forum being hosted by Newcastle Now and the Hunter Business Chamber on Wednesday 24 January (tomorrow).

On a visit to the region on 19 December 2017, Premier Berejiklian addressed calls for compensation by saying:

“If there’s demonstrated loss, we’re always considering rental assistance. That’s what we’ve done for other projects in other parts of NSW, so, of course, we’ll look at those issues.”

More than a month after the Premier’s comments, no rental assistance package has been announced, and business owners in Newcastle continue to suffer and struggle.

The Hunter Business Chamber and Newcastle Now are jointly hosting a forum with the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner tomorrow to provide advice to local businesses who have been affected by the delayed Newcastle revitalisation works. Labor is calling on the NSW Small Business Commissioner to hold Premier Berejiklian to account on her promise and provide rental assistance.

The true cost of the Newcastle light rail has blown out by millions and Hunter Street retailers continue to feel the pinch. Instead of committing an obscene $2.5 billion on knocking down and rebuilding Sydney Stadiums, the Premier needs to back in her promise to provide rental assistance to Newcastle businesses who continue to struggle to trade due to the prolonged construction of the Government’s light rail project.

Quotes attributable to Jenny Aitchison MP

“The Premier came to town with vague promises, well over a month ago. Here we are with businesses closing down, and those left surviving on minimal trade. It’s time for the Premier to make good on her promise.”

“The Government has shown no consideration to businesses in the areas impacted by light rail. It’s all very good for the Premier to say the light rail will bring customers, but that doesn’t put food on the table for struggling small business owners and their employees. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll still be in business when the light rail finally arrives!”

Quotes attributable to Tim Crakanthorp MP

“I have been contacted by and fought for these Hunter Street businesses over the past three years. The Government has only been constant in their lack of empathy and support.”

“Hunter Street businesses close, relocate or discuss their future in the CBD. The Premier needs to act now.”

“The Premier needs to be clear about what she can offer Newcastle businesses, after all, if they don’t survive this construction period, there will be no CBD for anyone to visit.”

Quotes attributable to Clr Nuatali Nelmes

"Newcastle City Council has responded to concerns raised by small businesses by implementing a park and ride initiative to free-up car parks for shoppers in the city centre, and by supporting tomorrow's forum which is jointly hosted by Newcastle Now."

"It's time for the Premier to step up and support Newcastle businesses doing it tough."

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