Thursday, 2 September 2021
Mackellar Electorate: Infrastructure
[by video link] The impacts of traffic congestion are far-reaching. Traffic congestion costs drivers money and it means more pollution and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere but, most of all, the more time you spend in traffic the less time you spend with your family.
Indeed, there are many people who think that the level and degree of traffic congestion in our society is a major contributor to mental health issues, particularly amongst parents. Traffic congestion is the No. 1 issue that my constituents contact me about every single day. Not a day goes by where I am not somehow contacted by someone asking why more isn't being done to alleviate traffic congestion on the northern beaches. Many northern beaches residents have to travel over two hours a day within Sydney just to get to their place of employment.
Of course this isolation affects our entire economy and our community. 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 is not alone and, unfortunately, her situation is not unique—especially for those people living on the northern beaches of Sydney. Many people from all different backgrounds have to forgo time with their families and find ways in which to commute into another area of Sydney daily. And if we count the return trip that's twice as much time when they could be doing something productive, useful or that they want to do—something that means something to someone they love and care about.
It's not only that but the northern beaches are home to many world-leading businesses, such as Incat Crowther, HIFraser, Blackmores and PharmaCare. These are businesses that are trying to keep up with the global market by employing top-quality staff. This, however, is made extremely difficult when the daily commute in and out of the northern beaches is so unattractive. Gaining high-quality staff is difficult; they're faced with the choice of either losing their staff or moving their businesses away from the beaches and both options would affect our economy, our community and our lives negatively. Of course these businesses don't have to think, ultimately, of the community or the economy in these cases, so they will generally choose the most attractive option.
But now the government is pursuing positive solutions in order to alleviate congestion and, as such, improve the economic, environmental and social issues that arise with constant traffic. The Beaches Link Tunnel has been given the go-ahead, and I'm constantly pressuring New South Wales transport minister, Andrew Constance, who lives in Bega, 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 Metro available to them; a large area of the city of Sydney is 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—including proposals such as the Bradfield plan. It's a viable option for the alleviation of traffic congestion and has been well proven to work in the past as such. It would largely help the constituents and people of the northern beaches to decrease the issues that I have pointed out.
It goes without saying that the northern beaches are home to some of the finest beaches in the world—indeed, we have Layne Beachley! But the fact remains that we also have this problem: we're home to three of the 10 most-congested roads in Australia. These are not roads to nowhere, they are roads to businesses and to homes. But they're also roads of misery. The New South Wales government has received billions of dollars from the federal government to build roads, bridges and tunnels. It's time for them to look after the people of the northern beaches.
The Minister for Transport and Roads built himself a $300 million bridge in Bega that has as many people over it in a year as the Spit Bridge has in a week. It's time for the people of the northern beaches to be looked after.