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Thursday, 3 February 1994
Page: 315

Mr HAVILAND (1.14 p.m.) —Firstly, I would like to add my thoughts on the bushfire disaster in New South Wales and give my condolences to those who lost lives, who lost the lives of loved ones and also to those who lost property. It certainly was a major tragedy in New South Wales. Let me also give full credit to the great numbers of volunteers who fought those fires. They showed courage and bravery. We all owe them a great debt. In my electorate, we can count ourselves very lucky. I drive through my electorate regularly. We have much beautiful bushland in Macarthur, yet we were hardly touched by the bushfires. We can certainly count ourselves very fortunate.

  Nevertheless, a number of bushfire brigades, involving hundreds of people from my electorate, actually worked on the fires in other electorates all over New South Wales; and they also deserve great credit. One of them is one of my own electorate staff, Paul Palmer, who fought the fires on the north coast. We certainly all owe them a great deal of gratitude.

  Last Saturday I worked on a polling booth for the Labor Party in the Werriwa by-election. As a former resident of Werriwa, it was very interesting to work in my old area—indeed, in the suburbs of Campbelltown, where I was first elected to Campbelltown Council in 1987. The Labor candidate, Mark Latham, had a decisive victory in Werriwa. He ran a campaign based on the important issues, as we always do on this side, in south-west Sydney, like jobs and transport. This contrasted with the negative campaign of personal attacks waged by the Liberals and their candidate, Charlie Lynn.

  Of course, Charlie Lynn was the one who referred to Macquarie Fields as a ghetto. He also made the claim that Labor would win the seat if Donald Duck ran as the candidate. He said that most of the people were welfare beneficiaries who were afraid of losing their benefits if Labor lost. He told the local newspaper, `They are voting for their cheque'. I guess that this may have been a bizarre reference to the Fightback proposals to cut the unemployed from benefits after nine months. After all, Mr Lynn also advocated a consumption tax during the campaign.

  It is interesting to look at the comments about the `ghetto'. Mr Lynn claimed that he was trying to draw attention to Labor's so-called neglect of the area. But the area of Macquarie Fields which he called a ghetto was a public housing estate. And who has responsibility for public housing? It is the state Liberal government of John Fahey.

  Everybody knows that the New South Wales government has disgracefully neglected public housing areas since Nick Greiner was elected Premier in 1988. Of course, it was previous Liberal governments in New South Wales which were responsible for building the large public housing estates in the 1960s and 1970s of the type that we do not see built these days. It was not only a distasteful and politically stupid comment, but one which was badly misdirected as well.

  The Liberal candidate for Werriwa now wants to be the Liberal candidate for Macarthur in the next election; and I have to tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I can hardly wait. But then not even the Liberals, not even the people on that side, could be that stupid; so I could not get that lucky.

  What I want to talk about in the grievance debate are those major issues which won the by-election for Labor—the issues of jobs, growth, and regional development and infrastructure. My electorate of Macarthur virtually surrounds Werriwa in geographical terms and both electorates are part of what is known as the Macarthur region.

  The Macarthur region falls between the large regions of western Sydney and the Illawarra. Because of this, Macarthur is often not mentioned as a region when regional development is discussed on a national scale. But Macarthur is part of neither western Sydney nor the Illawarra really, and is an area of rapid growth with particular needs in the areas of development and infrastructure.

  One of the major opportunities to provide this is the fast-tracking of Badgerys Creek airport. I welcome the recent announcement by the Minister for Transport (Mr Brereton) that construction of stage 1 of the airport will commence within weeks and his invitation to the private sector to present proposals for investment in the airport which could lead to its completion ahead of schedule as an international airport.

  Apart from the aviation and the other national benefits that Badgerys Creek will bring, it will also be a great boost to both the western Sydney and Macarthur regions. It will provide new jobs and will attract industry, which will in turn attract more employment opportunities into the area. The associated transport links, both road and rail, which will be necessary for access to the airport will also have spin-offs for the region generally. Of course, the One Nation statement included the construction of the national rail highway from Brisbane to Perth. This will travel through the Macarthur region and will be of significant benefit to the region.

  The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Howe) recently announced funding of $50, 000 from the Office of Local Government for a feasibility study into the proposed rail link from St Marys to Port Kembla. I believe this is a vital project. A railway linking western New South Wales with the Illawarra will provide improved access with reduced transit time for a range of export goods, including wheat and coal. It would also provide a link to the airport at Badgerys Creek and create the potential for badly needed commuter transport linking Penrith, Narellan, Campbelltown and Wollongong. It would also provide access for coal transportation from the Burragorang Valley to Port Kembla, which would alleviate the current problems around Picton, where there are lots of coal trucks travelling through residential areas.

  An improvement in transport links would generate and attract industry, which would create thousands more jobs in the Macarthur region. The other reason why it is so important that the St Marys to Port Kembla link goes ahead is that there is already a half-finished rail link between Maldon, near Picton, and Dumbarton on the south coast—a half-finished rail link that the Greiner government in 1988 put a halt to after spending $150 million.

  I went and had a look at it the other day; I went and inspected the half-finished bridge. It is an absolute disgrace if that does not get finished. What a waste of public money that is. It is a perfect opportunity. I think that both federal and state governments need to pick the ball up there and run with it and complete that link from western Sydney, St Marys, right through to Port Kembla. We have already got a half-finished bridge and a half-finished rail line; let us finish the job. I might add also that that particular project is listed as a high priority in the Kelty report on regional development that was released in December.

  Whilst talking about the needs of the Macarthur region, it would be appropriate to remind the House of the need to reform the telecommunications there to bring parts of the 046 telephone area into the Sydney telephone district for the purposes of cost. One of the disincentives for industry and business and, indeed, for people to live in the Macarthur area at the moment is the fact that to ring

from Campbelltown or from most places in my electorate to Sydney is an STD call. That could quite easily be fixed, I believe. It is a long overdue project that successive members for Werriwa and Macarthur have fought for in the past. I think it is time that the government, in the context of regional development and economic efficiency and creating jobs, did something about that in the course of the next few years.

  Jobs are what it is all about. We have heard a lot about regional development—and that is very important—but the spin-off from all this is that we create jobs. We have had the green paper—I was a member of the caucus committee which presented a submission to that process—and now the government is considering the employment statement to be released later this year. Of course, I agree that we have to have economic growth, and we are, indeed, having economic growth. We have to have that market driven economic growth. I certainly also support the concept of the job compact which is recommended in the green paper.

  On top of that I believe we have also got to look at our infrastructure, particular in the growing regional areas, and also in some of the declining regional areas, such as Wollongong. We need to look at renewing and also creating new infrastructure. We need the private sector involved, of course, but we also should not overlook the role of the public sector, because with One Nation we built, and are in the process of building, major capital works and transport links—things that only the public sector can or will do.

  Another example, of course, was the local government capital works program of 1992. I think that was a successful program within the limits of its terms of reference. If we have learnt anything from the local government capital works program, it is that future programs of that nature, while they are desirable, probably should be looked at on a regional basis rather than on purely a council boundary basis. There are certainly potentially a lot more efficient ways of doing it. If it is done in such a way as to look at the common interests and the projects that will give common benefit to a region and also common benefits to the nation, it will be much more efficient to run a program of capital works like that on a regional basis rather than at the purely parochial local government level. Nevertheless, those programs are important.

  There are also links, of course, particularly in growth areas like Macarthur, with urban development and housing policy. So it is very important, I believe, that we do not overlook the role of the public sector in providing capital infrastructure which provides useful social benefits and economic efficiency. I am not talking about make-work schemes; I am not talking about building monuments to politicians or anything like that. I am talking about things that will provide real benefits and will actually create jobs. (Time expired)