Senate debates

Thursday, 16 November 2023

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:26 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

I note that we had a New South Wales senator, Senator O'Neill, in here speaking earlier. She responded to Senator Smith taking note of this question and answer. Not at any stage did Senator O'Neill mention that New South Wales is actually the recipient of the greatest number of cuts to projects. All she wanted to talk about was what was happening in WA, which is, of course, regional cuts—disgracefully behaviour that is putting regional populations, in particular, at risk. But I noticed that she didn't mention what was happening to her home state of New South Wales, which has seen the greatest number of cuts. Again, this feeds into the complete narrative that this Labor government doesn't understand how economics work.

They're talking about cutting spending, but what they're also doing by taking some of these projects off the table and removing funding for them is actually reducing productivity. Productivity is the one thing that will actually help reduce inflation and help get this economy moving and help reduce cost-of-living pressures. Real wages are declining at the moment—when we talk about wages, we put that word 'real' in front of it. How we reverse that trend is by boosting our productivity. What we see here are cuts being made to infrastructure that was specifically designed to boost productivity. If you go into the regions where these freight trails were, it was important for the Commonwealth to invest more than the states because they went through regional centres.

One that will be cut is actually in my old hometown of Moree. They are going to lose improvements to the Gwydir Highway, a very, very busy highway that sees a lot of freight and trucks. It also sees combine harvesters, particularly around this time of year, going up and down the highway as they move from property to property. It is also cotton territory, so we see big cotton harvesters out there. That funding is going, so we're going to put those lives at risk. We also know that the intermodal terminal in Moree will no longer be funded.

We just heard from Senator Grogan about the car park rorts. I did note what was interesting: the one in Campbelltown is actually getting a boost in funding, so obviously not all of them are rorts, because this government is actually giving a boost in funding to the one in Campbelltown. I guess that's a good thing, because, when you look at the volume of projects that are going to be cancelled throughout south-west Sydney and Western Sydney, the congestion around these areas is going to be considerably worse.

One of the areas that we're going to see a cut—and, again, I'm going to quote Senator Grogan—are projects that were 'half thought through', including the M7-M12 Integration Project. Transport New South Wales, which is obviously now under a Labor government, said:

The M7-M12 Integration project will support future development growth in Western Sydney by improving travel times and congestion. Once complete, the project will provide direct access to commercial and residential hubs, and the new Western Sydney International Airport.

Apparently, a half thought through project is one that opens up Western Sydney, one of the fastest growing areas in the nation! At a time when we're facing a cost-of-living crisis coupled with a housing crisis, those opposite, in another little brainwave that they've had, are going to remove construction and funding from a road that is deliberately being built to open up Western Sydney, improve access and ensure that the people who live in Western Sydney can work in Western Sydney. We understand here that, when we put these infrastructure projects in and housing and commercial enterprises go together, it actually forms a community, without people in Penrith having to travel to the Sydney CBD every day to get a job and go to work, because the Penrith CBD is booming and people are able to work closer to home.

We're also going to see a cut to the Werrington arterial stage. This is another project that was going to boost economic participation and connection between the Great Western Highway, Werrington and Marsden Park. This is in north-west Sydney, another booming area to which we are seeing young families move, and we want them to be able to work there. We want those areas to grow and thrive so they turn into communities and people can spend less time in their cars commuting and more time with their families and loved ones. We have family-friendly hours in this place. What a joke. But that's how they are. That's how they operate. Being family friendly obviously doesn't come into it when they are taking away the opportunities for families to live, work and have infrastructure around them to make their lives get better.

Question agreed to.


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