Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Chifley Electorate: Infrastructure
Ed Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Industry and Innovation) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source
I would be interested to know whether or not there's profit under that process that we have just heard of then. I would very much welcome greater religious freedom across the world and that Christians or other faiths not be persecuted. We have not had in that contribution then any reference to what happened in Christchurch, which was just devastating in terms of having one of our own go and do that over there. As someone who would benefit from religious freedom when standing as a candidate in times past, I would certainly welcome it, but, as for the plug at the end, I would be interested to know how that system is working, Member for Dawson. You've already announced that you'll be leaving the parliament, and you're setting up a whole range of these websites as well. It would be very interesting to get the transparency behind all that. But I digress.
I use the opportunity for grievance to raise the following issues in respect of my own community. In my own community, where you have growth of 200,000 people in the north-west sector, we should be able to see priorities attended to in terms of good jobs; strong, affordable healthcare systems; and infrastructure that keeps pace with that growth. If you're going to move so many people in—and we hear governments say from time to time that they do want to see more homes being built to address growth in house prices—what normally happens is that the house prices stay low because the homes that get built are on the fringes of our cities, where the infrastructure isn't there. People can't buy close to the city and they're forced to move out to areas where infrastructure isn't in place. The schools aren't built, the hospitals aren't there and the public transport isn't available. That's why the homes are cheap: because no-one wants to move into those areas. As a result, the demand and supply profile dictates what the prices are. There's got to be better than that.
In our area in particular we see so many instances where infrastructure simply isn't keeping pace. If I look in my area, I see Richmond Road, between Marsden Park and Colebee. It is becoming so packed and so frustrating that businesses are reporting that they're seeing customers basically making a decision that they will not go to those businesses because it's too hard to get access to the services, the businesses and the customers that could be provided there. I'm genuinely concerned that we're seeing a safety issue arise where people are undertaking rat running, going into certain streets at high speeds to avoid traffic and being frustrated. I am worried that there will be an accident in those areas simply because of the high volume of traffic, because the local roads system is not keeping pace with that growth.
We've seen, for example, near Rooty Hill the Davis overpass. Every day, you can see traffic lined up as far as the eye can see. The state government hasn't given it priority at all. RMS traffic data shows that the amount of traffic using Davis overpass frequently exceeds its single-lane capacity. The road is at 134 per cent capacity in morning peaks and almost 150 per cent capacity in afternoon peaks. The road acts as a major access point for Mount Druitt Hospital, but, due to a lack of alternative routes, congestion in the corridor significant delays police, fire, rescue and ambulance vehicles when attending emergencies.
We could see the smart investment of infrastructure dollars to provide for job opportunities. Around Bidwill and Shalvey there are a lot of young people who would be eager to get jobs in the new Sydney Business Park, but the congestion of traffic on Luxford Road and Rooty Hill Road North is an issue. Low levels of drivers licence possession are a problem. There is high demand for public transport that is also finding it difficult to get through. That's an issue as well. Why can't we, for example, see the New South Wales government, after talking for age about how they would build the Daniels Road bus lane, make that finally happen? Why can't we get federal and state governments, in an area of high youth unemployment, to dedicate that investment to open up those opportunities? Again, it's a problem.
As for the trains in our area, the western line is congested. It's at nearly 300 per cent capacity. It runs late regularly. It is going to have more people coming onto it with the building of the Western Sydney airport and the Metro, which will connect to the Western Sydney rail line. If we're trying to encourage people onto public transport, the multistorey car park promised for Schofields is now looking like it will just be a slab of asphalt rather than a multistorey car park that can provide for people to park close to the station easily. Instead of overflowing into local streets, we would have people contained in the one space. Again, it is not there.
In this budget, the Morrison government boasts about just over $3 billion in major infrastructure projects for New South Wales, but there is nothing in these growth corridors. It is insane. With the money they announced in previous budgets, very little was actually delivered. Since 2014, the coalition has underspent on Western Sydney infrastructure by about $778 million. Since entering office they have underdelivered $1.2 billion a year on infrastructure, which is simply a joke.
I have written to the minister for transport on these issues and other infrastructure issues, and I have written to the previous infrastructure minister on this as well. Rest assured: the moment we actually know who the new infrastructure and transport minister will be, I will be knocking on their door asking for some serious infrastructure dollars, because our community needs it. To keep pace with growth, we need the federal and New South Wales governments to work together on these priorities: busting the congestion seriously on Richmond Road and Davis Road; investing in infrastructure around Riverstone to open up job opportunities in that part of north-west Sydney; extending the Metro to St Marys from Tallawong; decongesting the T1 western line; building a proper multilevel car park at Schofields; building the Daniels Road bus lane to open up job opportunities for young unemployed people and getting that into the Sydney Business Park; building the M9 motorway; and stopping the buck-passing between the two levels of government. When I approach the federal government, they say they're happy to do it if the New South Wales government thinks it's a priority. The New South Wales government doesn't, miraculously, see any of these things as a priority; therefore, the federal government won't provide the money. It is simply laughable that we have this situation in this day and age, and we need to see that move.
Health care is another area where Scott Morrison and the Liberals have continued to neglect the needs of this part of Western Sydney. They have tried to rush through almost a thousand changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule. These cuts and changes mean that patients could have to choose between cancelling life-changing surgeries or be hit with huge medical bills. The Liberals have attacked Medicare for decades. People know it's deep within them to attack universal health care. They have tried to put in a GP tax to make you pay more to see a GP and they have cut billions from Medicare. These cuts have a real impact on Chifley locals.
Residents of Chifley have amongst the lowest life expectancy in the country, with the electorate ranking 138 out of 151 seats in terms of life expectancy. Chiefly has diabetes rates of 7.8 per cent, 50 per cent above the national average. Mount Druitt has the highest rate of smoking in the country. These are things that need an investment in them. Waiting times in the local hospital are exploding massively. Public patients waiting for joint replacements wait three months in Central Sydney; in Western Sydney they wait 14 months. One in three patients is left in the ED at Mount Druitt Hospital for more than four hours. Waiting lists for some surgeries at Mount Druitt Hospital have blown out to 331 days. For some, the wait is even longer. I was contacted by a local resident who has been waiting since 2016 to have her surgery at Mount Druitt Hospital and was told she would have to wait 10 years for her surgery. Her doctor has been able to expedite it, but she has a 12-month wait ahead, and that's still six years of waiting. I keep saying: access to affordable health care is a right, not a privilege. In this day and age, people should be able to get access to affordable health care. As the constituent said to me in the email, 'Not having the financial means to have private health insurance, it's my only option to go through the public system and wait that long.' We have got to be able to do better.
On those issues, as I said, by having good infrastructure in place to create good jobs and having people to meet the healthcare needs of our area, we should be able to get these things done. It's not that it's impossible to do; it's that we have a government who finds it impossible to do the right thing by people of our area. It doesn't matter if they're Liberal or Labor; at the state level they treat their colleagues as a joke, and they're doing the same federally as well.