House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019


Transport Infrastructure

7:43 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The impacts of traffic congestion are far-reaching. Traffic congestion costs drivers money. It means more pollution and greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. But, most of all, the more time you spend in traffic, the less time you spend with your family. Traffic congestion is the No. 1 issue that my constituents contact me about daily. Not a day goes by when I'm not somehow contacted by constituents asking why more isn't being done to alleviate traffic congestion on the beaches. Many Northern Beaches residents have to travel over two hours a day within Sydney just to get to their place of employment. This isolation, of course, affects our economy and our community greatly. My own wife reminds me frequently that, ever since her workplace moved to Parramatta, her commute starts so early in the morning that she will often not even see our daughter before school. But she's not alone. Unfortunately, her situation is not unique for those living on the beaches.

Many people from all different backgrounds are having to forego time with their family and find ways in which to commute into another area of Sydney daily. If you count the return trip, it is twice as much time that they could be doing something else or being somewhere else. Not only that, but the Northern Beaches are home to many of the world-leading businesses, such as Incat Crowther, HIA Fraser and Pharmacare. These are businesses that are trying to keep up with the global market by employing top-quality staff from all around the world. However, this is made extremely difficult when the daily commute in and out of the Northern Beaches is so unattractive. Gaining high-quality staff is difficult. Businesses are faced with the choice of either losing their staff or moving away from the beaches, and both options negatively affect our economy and our area. These businesses don't have to ultimately think of the community economy in these cases, so they will generally choose the most attractive option, no matter how much they do not wish to do so.

The government is pursuing positive solutions in order to alleviate congestion and, as such, improve the economic, environmental and social costs that arise with traffic. The Beaches Link tunnel has been given the go ahead, and I'm pressuring the New South Wales transport minister, Andrew Constance, constantly to start construction following a $40 million funding boost from the federal government which I helped to secure.

Public transport is another answer to congestion. The people of the Northern Beaches don't even have a metro available to them—a large area of the city of Sydney without this useful infrastructure. I believe a discussion should be had over the viability of a metro line linking the Northern Beaches to the North Shore and Chatswood. This is nothing new, as it has been proposed numerous times before under such proposals as the Bradfield plan. It is a viable option for the alleviation of traffic congestion and has been well proven to work in the past. It would largely help the constituents within my electorate and would help to decrease the issues that I've pointed out earlier. Not only that, but a few weeks ago I even called on Uber Air to launch a trial right on the beaches following their Melbourne announcement. I have been buoyed by their positive response. I have been in contact with multiple other drone companies that are making similar innovative advancements in this field. As such, I'm trying to look into every viable option to alleviate the traffic congestion within my constituency and the issues that arise with it.

The Northern Beaches is home to three of the 10 most congested roads in Australia. Warringah Road, which is currently getting an upgrade outside the Northern Beaches Hospital, was rated the third worst road in Australia for congestion. This is not just a question of the economic costs or the amount of employment moving away from communities around Australia; this is due to the fact that for so often under the Carr-Keneally government, this sort of infrastructure was ignored while the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government invited 400,000 people to come into our community. It is time for us to do something about this, to future proof our communities and to make it easier for people to live in our large cities.