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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13678

Mr RUDDOCK (Berowra) (19:10): This week I listened again to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, the member for Grayndler, speaking about the dangers on some of our highways and drawing attention particularly to large vehicles that are often on highways and the need to carefully identify the potential risk to other users of the roads. It prompted me to recall that perhaps the most dangerous area in Australia for accidents involving major transport vehicles is in fact the missing link in our national highway system—Pennant Hills Road between West Pennant Hills and Wahroonga. It is a six-lane highway, but it has all the B-doubles, all the heavy transport, that might move between Sydney and Brisbane and between Melbourne and Newcastle, mixed in with peak-hour traffic—perhaps commuters coming from the Central Coast of New South Wales wanting to access the city of Sydney—and local parents taking their children to school.

I say to myself, and I hope it is not an ominous warning, that one of the most horrific accidents that could occur might well be possible on Pennant Hills Road. It is essentially a narrow six-lane highway intersected with major traffic thoroughfares, with elderly pensioners driving their cars on outings mixed in with speeding commercial traffic wanting to get from one major centre to another. It is a potential disaster waiting to happen. It is not as if it has been unknown.

People come to me and say, 'I was driving from Canberra to Newcastle and it is a major freeway all the way from Canberra until I get to West Pennant Hills, and then there is a series of traffic lights—probably 14 or 15 of them—and major shopping centres, and then I am on a freeway again north of Sydney heading towards Newcastle. That is our national highway.' People talk about the national highway, they see it as a national highway, but they say, 'When you get to Sydney it is not quite clear where the national highway is.' I drove from Sydney to Canberra for the last sittings and I had to drive back. As I came back into Sydney on the Hume Highway, just before hitting the M7 I noticed a sign that made it very clear that if you were on the Hume Highway heading to Brisbane or Newcastle you took the M7 heading towards the F3. There was no mistake about the signage. I live in Pennant Hills. My office is in an office block on Pennant Hills Road. Each time I walk along the road I notice a sign thanking the federal government for giving some money towards resheeting parts of Pennant Hills Road as part of a national roads program. I say to myself: how can people be in denial that when you get to Sydney you have four major thoroughfares—the M7, the Cumberland Highway, Woodville Road and Silverwater Road—and they take traffic on a total of 12 or 16 lanes to West Pennant Hills, and from there it is all aggregated into this major disaster? That is my concern, and I come to this adjournment debate tonight to plead again with this government. The money is needed to plan for this road to ensure that Infrastructure Australia consider what needs to be done to remedy this major defect in our national road system. Once again I ask the minister to listen to this message. (Time expired)