House debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Constituency Statements

COVID-19: International Travel, Chifley Electorate: Pay Parking

11:55 am

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak on behalf of constituents of mine who are currently stuck overseas and are trying to get back to Australia, but they are finding difficulties on a range of fronts to do so. I appreciate—

Sitting suspended from 11:55 to 12:02

As I was saying, I was contacted by a couple who are stuck in southern India and are trying desperately to get back to Australia. At the outset, I acknowledge that this is not an easy thing to fix. It requires cooperation between the Australian government and states. The states, in particular, are very conscious of the number of people arriving home from overseas into their jurisdictions, and the federal government has made the decision, which we supported, to close the borders to help ensure that we can limit the spread of coronavirus. However, it is becoming obvious, particularly for people from my area who have been overseas, attending to family issues or looking after relatives who are sick, and who are now wanting to return, that there is an issue with the prices of those tickets. This couple indicated to me that it usually cost them between $500 and $600 economy to get back from overseas on a plane. It is now costing $2,000 to $3,000. We've heard all sorts of horror stories about how much people are being charged and how their flights are being cancelled. This is a real problem for average Australians who are trying to get back to their own country. I am concerned for those constituents of mine experiencing those troubles. I'd urge the government, as I know government MPs have done, to find some sort of resolution to this—opening up capacity, lowering the costs—so that people can return.

The other matter I want to raise is that the major shopping centre in Mount Druitt, Westfield, is introducing pay parking, which is a problem for people who work in the area. Given that we're having a recession and have had major job impacts, increasing the prices on people who are parking their vehicles for extended periods of time is a problem. I understand why the shopping centre is doing it—it's because state governments haven't provided adequate public transport parking—but it is having an impact on a community organisation in our area. We estimate that it will cost $15,000 a year for that organisation, which is providing crucial work in our area, with their employees and volunteers now being charged parking fees. I've raised this with management previously. They've tried to come to a resolution, but they need to do more, particularly for organisations that are providing vital support services in our area.