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Premier on the Rail Trail and highway bandwagon

REWARDING VISIT: NSW Premier Mike Baird meets with members of the Lismore Soup Kitchen.
REWARDING VISIT: NSW Premier Mike Baird meets with members of the Lismore Soup Kitchen. Marc Stapelberg

DESPITE refusing to back calls to declare the Northern Rivers gas field free, there were positives for the region that came out of Premier Mike Baird's visit on Friday.

The Premier indicated support for establishing the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and confidence the duplication of the Pacific Highway is funded, and will be completed, by 2020.

As soon as he touched down at Ballina, Mr Baird was greeted by members of Gasfield Free Northern Rivers inviting him to Saturday's Lismore rally, then at Lismore Base hospital the Premier was bombarded with questions about CSG.

Mr Baird said the government would be announcing its position on coal seam gas shortly, based on recommendations from the NSW chief scientist.

He said the government was "proud" to be basing its position on scientific evidence after the mess it inherited from Labor.

"We won't be supporting anything which is done without the appropriate rigour and scientific analysis," he said.

"Ultimately if you want to support gas and energy provision in this state, which we do, it should only be done if there are no impacts, long term, on the environment and water."

Acknowledging the hundreds of fatalities on the Pacific Highway, Mr Baird said the government was 100% committed to the duplication project.

"We have allocated the money in our budget and our forward estimates and it (the 2020 completion date) will be met," he said.

He highlighted the economic benefits of tourism in the region and the number of jobs the rail trail project would create.

"We are certainly looking at it (the rail trail) very closely and the local members are pushing it very strongly," he said.

After Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione announced in March, Casino would have 24 hour policing this year, Mr Baird said an announcement was imminent.

Topics:  highway, rail trail



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