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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23399


Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (9:20 PM) —The electorate of Burke is a long way away from the electorate of Pearce.


Mr Sidebottom —Very far.


Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR —It is very far away from the electorate of Pearce. It just shows you that issues relating to transport are not only common but significant. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that I follow the member for Pearce—a good colleague and Chair of the Joint Committee of Public Works.

I rise tonight to talk about some concerns that I have with transport matters in the electorate of Burke and in the neighbouring electorates. In particular, I make reference to the proposed Deer Park bypass. During this term there has been some debate about the construction of the Deer Park bypass in this place. Indeed, I think it was raised last term, when I was not a member of this House. However, there has been no movement by the government on this issue, and it really has become a significant problem for the communities that reside within the areas of Caroline Springs and Burnside, Deer Park, Ardeer and North Sunshine.

Like the member for Pearce, I sent out a petition to a very specific area of my electorate—indeed, to only 10,000 householders; to those that I thought would be most directly affected by the lack of a bypass in that region—and so far (and I tabled these, as you would remember, Mr Speaker, earlier this afternoon) I have had almost 3,000 returned from the 10,000 sent. That is a return of 30 per cent in round terms, which I have found to be an extraordinary response—and I am sure other members would agree—to the concern. Most importantly, that petition was sent out only two weeks ago.


Mr Pyne —It's because of your huge personal following!


Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR —There is that too. More importantly, I think it is because this issue has a huge following, and it has a huge following because this government has failed in its responsibility to look after the western suburbs of Melbourne—and the western suburbs should not be neglected. If one were to look at the Western Highway on any grounds or criteria whatsoever, whether in respect of the amount of usage or in respect of the number of fatalities and injuries, it would be fair to conclude that there has not been provided funds sufficient for this important transport link to be properly looked after. I refer to the links between Melbourne and Ballarat—and I know the member for Ballarat shares my concerns in this regard—and indeed between Melbourne and Adelaide, in your home state, Mr Speaker. That is a very important transport link.

The petition that I sent out targeted a very small area, but already I have had a 30 per cent return. The actual mail-out was staggered, so we are getting a return each day. I am told I am likely to get almost 1,000 extra returns. This really signifies how important this matter is to this part of the electorate of Burke. Therefore, it is something that the government has to turn its mind to if it really wants to be seen to be a government that actually cares for people in need and that cares for those communities that, for good reason, have argued that—when their transport links are compared with other links in the country and, indeed, the state—they are not looked after.

Finally, I want to mention the fantastic St Andrew's festival I visited on Sunday. It was a fantastic Greek-Cypriot affair. Thousands of people turned up to soak up the atmosphere of traditional dance and music. I was a guest of the festival and I would like to thank the Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus, the representative from the Greek embassy and those community members who invited me to that event. It was a wonderful occasion. I received a fantastic welcome, as did other federal and state members, and I can promise I will be going to the next one, because it was a great— (Time expired)