Tuesday, 1 December 2015
I rise today for my final parliamentary speech of the year, 2015, to speak on some of the achievements this year in the Macquarie electorate. Whilst it has been a very full year in parliament, with many reforms and pieces of legislation passing the Senate, it has been a big year in Macquarie as well. This year will mark the end of the disaster recovery process. The disaster recovery committee will have their last meeting next week on Monday, 7 November 2015, a bit over two years since the 2013 bushfires. The recovery committee sadly came together as a result of the devastating Blue Mountains bushfires in 2013. As a community, we have come a long way since then. There has been much rebuilding not only of homes but of communities, neighbourhoods and lives. There have been lessons learned, resilience established and built on and communities strengthened. It has been a very difficult time for the close-knit Blue Mountains community.
The committee has seen many members over the duration of the past two years but, for all those involved, the community was always the first priority. The recovery committee, together with the other subcommittees formed, worked collaboratively to streamline procedures and coordinate services and programs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the committees for their passion for and dedication to their roles. In particular, I would like to thank the current recovery manager, Sue Johnson who has played an instrumental role in the long-term recovery process, particularly around the position of underinsurance which many found themselves in.
The coalition government has supported the Macquarie electorate with many announcements. Some of those were made this year. In the Blue Mountains there have been major road upgrades, particularly safety upgrades along the Great Western Highway. Together with the New South Wales government we have made improvements from Merrylands to Lapstone, with the managed motorway planning works costing $3 million, and from Woodford to Hazelbrook costing $70 million. And, commencing this month, there will be the Mount Victoria safety upgrades, with a joint costing of $32.1 million.
I was also pleased to announce with the state member for Penrith, Minister Stuart Ayres, $5 million for the Ross Street intersection upgrade, which is currently available for public exhibition. This was in addition to funding for dangerous black spots on our roads, with $200,000 allocated to the Great Western Highway at Valley Heights at the Peninsula Road T-junction. In the Hawkesbury we announced $80,000 to fix a dangerous black spot on the Hawkesbury Valley Way at the intersection with Hobart Street. It has been most rewarding to see the completion of the $20 million Richmond Bridge and approaches congestion alleviation works. There has been much positive feedback to these changes.
Under the Mobile Black Spot Program in the area of communications, four new or upgraded base stations will be funded in Macquarie at Colo Heights, Kurrajong, Webbs Creek and Mount Tomah for residents in mobile phone coverage black spot areas. That is particularly significant given the nature of natural disasters that we experience. The total funding package to Macquarie will be $3.45 million, including $1.58 million funding from the Australian government.
The Green Army is another very successful program offering young people between the ages of 17 and 24 years the tools they need to help them enter the workforce, improve their career opportunities or further their education and training while participating in projects that will generate real and lasting benefits for the environment. Additionally, it supports practical, grassroots environment and heritage conservation projects across urban, regional and remote Australia. In Macquarie, we are on to our third Green Army round, with the successful completion of projects such as the Accessible World Heritage Experience Grand Cliff Top Walk Project in the Blue Mountains and the restoration of Little Wheeny Creek and Yellomundee Regional Park bushland in the Hawkesbury. Also on the environment, $253,000 has been allocated to the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage for Precinct 2 in Shepherds Gully, which will open Shepherds Gully Road to management vehicle use.
Other achievements include $150,000 for the Centenary of Anzac local grants program. In the area of health we recognise there are many challenges, particularly alcohol addiction. Funding includes: $384,948 for Teen Challenge; $591,920 for family drug support in Katoomba; and $317,100 for the Blue Mountains drug and alcohol service.
I want to wish everyone across the electorate a very safe Christmas and a very safe New Year. I thank all members of the community for their service to the people of Macquarie.