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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 3195


Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (10:57): I stand here today to share my great excitement about plans for the Richmond Vale Rail Trail. This will be an active transport corridor that will link the city of Newcastle with the glorious vineyards of the Hunter Valley. The trail will follow the old coal line through parts of the Cessnock LGA, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. The Richmond Vale Rail Trail echoes what is becoming a global trend for disused railway lines to be transformed into pathways. The slopes are gentle, and they create a route that's friendly to humans and the environment.

Earlier this month I met with a number of others who share my commitment to making the dream of a Richmond Vale Rail Trail a reality. Representatives from Newcastle and Cessnock city councils and Lake Macquarie council, the Donaldson Coal Conservation Trust, Rotary, and the Richmond Vale Rail Trail gathered at the Station Hotel in Kurri Kurri to plot our next steps. It was wonderful to hear from Newcastle council's project manager, Geoff Wickens—Geoff reaffirmed the commitment of Newcastle council to the project—and to also have Cessnock's acting strategic planner, Emma Crosdale, join the discussions in such a positive way. Soon-to-be-district-governor Brian Coffey, of Maitland Rotary, shared fabulous news that his organisation is willing to sponsor a toilet block.

Yes, the trail presents us with a unique tourism opportunity, but first and foremost, however, I am passionate about it being built for local people in our area. It will give us a place to get moving, the perfect spot for walking and cycling. By using two feet and a heartbeat we're burning more of the right fuel—that's right: body fat—and less of that which produces carbon emissions. It's so important to many people in my electorate, particularly young people, who are looking to get out and about and have something to do.

In late 2016 a survey released by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration revealed that more than 68 per cent of those who live in my home town of Kurri Kurri and Abermain were obese—68 per cent! Now, more than ever, it is so important that we take every opportunity to encourage activity—incidental activity, organised activity, outdoor activity. We must look to genuine people power to move about our daily lives. So while the trail will be an important nod to our industrial heritage and a great boon for our tourism sector, it will be a wonderful gift to the health of the people of the lower Hunter Valley.

I thank everyone, including Billy Metcalf, who's worked so hard on this concept. You have my gratitude and my utmost support—and a big shout-out to all the people who were involved in the Richmond Vale Rail Trail. Get on the Facebook page; get behind it. We need to make the trail an absolute reality so that it can be another part of the glorious Paterson electorate.