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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 112

Mrs IRWIN (9:36 AM) —From the figures released this week, we know that this government has spent more than $1.8 billion on advertising its policies since it was elected in 1996. If you assume that $300 million of that was actually needed to inform the public on real issues, you would still be left with $1.5 billion that this government has paid out over 11 years to sing its own praises—all at the taxpayer’s expense.

If I were to ask the people in the Fowler electorate what benefit they had received from all that advertising, their answer would be, ‘Absolutely nothing.’ If you took the $1.5 billion that this government has wasted on self-congratulations, that would amount to $10 million for each of the 150 electorates across Australia.

So what could have been done in the electorate of Fowler with their share of the $1.5 billion that this government has wasted on advertising? If I started by looking at the areas now included in the western end of the electorate, areas like Warragamba, Silverdale and Wallacia, the answer would be a resounding call to fix the roads. That was the clear message I got from my community consultation meetings in Warragamba two weeks ago. That $10 million would go a long way to improving Silverdale Road, Mulgoa Road or Park Road—the vital transport links for these areas. In the eastern part of the electorate, that $10 million would just about finish the missing link in Cowpasture Road between North Liverpool Road and the M7 motorway. Motorists in south-western Sydney pay the highest road tolls in Australia but get precious little in Commonwealth funding for vital local road projects. Instead, all we get is government propaganda advertising.

I would like to take the few moments remaining to remark on the passing of one of the finest citizens of the city of Fairfield, a man I have known since I was a young girl, as have the member for Reid and his family. Charlie Peel, a former deputy mayor and councillor of Fairfield City Council, died this week. Charlie was a stalwart Labor representative, and his 20 years serving the people of the Villawood and Carramar areas of Fairfield City and as a member of Prospect County Council deserve the highest recognition.

Charlie Peel will be remembered as a quietly spoken man who held firmly to his Labor values. He could truly be described as one of nature’s gentlemen. Charlie worked tirelessly for the people he represented, and he possessed a unique understanding of the issues affecting his area. Charlie Peel will be sadly missed by his family, the community that he was very much a part of and the Labor movement that he served with great loyalty.