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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1564

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (18:59): I would like to talk about my growing electorate and the infrastructure needs that face my community over the next two decades. In Macarthur we are expecting an influx of more than 200,000 new residents in the next 20 to 30 years. This will result in an increase of more than 300 per cent in the Camden local government area. The infrastructure required for new and existing residents in Macarthur must be provided before this growth occurs to ensure my electorate remains strong and resilient as it grows. In preparation for this boom, I have spearheaded a series of infrastructure meetings between local, state and federal government representatives in Macarthur. These meetings will ensure that we plan strategically for the future in the face of the major growth and change that will confront the region over the next 20 to 30 years.

The purpose of these meetings is to ensure a serious dialogue between some of the key stakeholders in my community to work out a strategic way to build a stronger and more self-sustaining Macarthur. There are several issues facing my electorate that we have begun to address. These include urban growth, dealing with the impact of this growth, recognising opportunities within the challenge of growth and ensuring that Macarthur sustains itself as a strong and resilient region. The group includes the mayors from Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly councils, state members of parliament, local council general managers and me. Together we have put together a list of Macarthur's high priority infrastructure projects that focus on self-sustaining an independent region for the future.

South-western Sydney has been earmarked by the metropolitan plan to take the greatest number of new dwellings and population growth in the whole metropolitan area over the next 25 years. This will have profound effects on Macarthur, including massive changes to the character of the neighbourhood, the location and nature of jobs and employment, access to roads and public transport, access to quality services and facilities and, of course, retail, commercial, government, health, education and community services.

One of the things I love about Macarthur is that it already has a strong sense of regional and community identity. It is also geographically well-defined and has a good variety of regional level facilities and services. Apart from employment, Macarthur is reasonably self-sustaining; with some help, it could be more self-sustaining in the long term. More than 75 per cent of its population leave the area and commute to work on a daily basis. I would like to see more employment lands developed in Macarthur providing more opportunity for people to work closer to home and their families. I believe that all levels of government can harness this existing energy and community capacity in Macarthur to capitalise on future growth and make the area more prosperous. This will offer a better lifestyle for our children and encourage them to live, work and bring up their own children in the Macarthur region.

As a federal representative, I am working closely with local councils, the state government, community leaders and business leaders. We must ensure that Macarthur becomes a sustainable and independent region and not be satisfied to continue as a dormitory for Sydney. To do this we need good planning, collaboration and coordination to secure the resources that will turn the challenges of growth into opportunities for economic prosperity, social equity and enrichment as well as environmental enhancement. All of these elements are crucial in determining our quality of life.

We must think and act strategically and make decisions that are focused on the betterment of the Macarthur region as a whole. I believe the key to the success lies in infrastructure—planning for it, securing the resources to pay for it and ensuring that it is delivered on time, in the right place and on budget. Decisions made about infrastructure must consider the contribution each item can make to a more sustainable Macarthur. The regional benefit must be measured against the cost. This approach is fundamental in obtaining funding from the federal government through Regional Development Australia. As a group, we have identified the high-priority roads, traffic management facilities, public transport links, water supplies, sewerage and the like that do not just facilitate new housing suburbs but will assist in private economic investment in new jobs and enterprise development.

With the expected population boom in Macarthur, we must also ensure that adequate capacity exists in our existing roads, traffic facilities, drainage, open space, recreation and community facilities and services to serve the new and existing population without compromising existing service levels and amenity. This means not just local government type infrastructure but state and federal facilities and services as well. It is very important that infrastructure investment be strategic, targeted and cost-effective and achieves tangible regional benefits. Today, Macarthur high-priority infrastructure projects include better connectivity and access on our roads; better public transport, including commuter parking; the development of employment-generating lands so that people can live and work in Macarthur; health, education and community facilities and services, such as upgrades to our hospitals, the university, TAFE and ambulance and police stations; better recreational facilities; access to water and sewerage; and better internet connection.

We have put together a high-priority infrastructure project list for Macarthur, backed up by a regional cost-benefit analysis. This will mean that we can ensure that we are ready to apply for grants and make strong representations to Regional Development Australia, infrastructure funding agencies and government ministers when funding becomes available. Progress has already begun, and I must thank my state colleagues for the infrastructure they have provided to my electorate in the New South Wales government 2011-12 budget and forward estimates. This included planning work for the upgrade of the M5 between King Georges Road and Camden Valley Way; $25 million to complete construction of the jointly funded F5 freeway widening between Ingleburn and Campbelltown; $15 million to continue construction of a four-lane upgrade of Camden Valley Way between Cobbitty Road and Narellan Road; $139 million to begin the Campbelltown Hospital redevelopment and emergency department; $292 million to continue construction work on the south-west rail link, with 11.4 kilometres of twin track between Glenfield and Leppington; and a $900,000 upgrade to Warragamba Dam. Macarthur residents were extremely grateful for all the money spent in the region.

These projects are a great start in dealing with the high-priority infrastructure needs identified for Macarthur. Both Narellan Road and Camden Valley Way cause a great amount of grief for motorists commuting to and from work in my electorate. It is great to see that upgrades to these roads are currently on the state government program, but I believe they would benefit from federal funding as well. The Spring Farm Parkway extension and connection to the Hume Highway, including on and off ramps at the Hume Highway at Menangle, is also a high priority.

These projects will significantly improve traffic flow and congestion that locals are experiencing every day in my electorate, which will only be made worse as the population increases in the coming decades. The extension and upgrade of Badgally Road from Gregory Hills Road into Campbelltown and a bus interchange at Campbelltown Station will better connect our new communities to public transport options. We need to upgrade Appin Road and Raby Road with widening and intersection improvements. We need a four-lane bridge over the Georges River to replace the causeway on Cambridge Avenue. Residents have been waiting for over 20 years for that to occur.

State government feasibility is now being carried out on the widening of the M5 east from the M7 interchange, with additional lane capacity required. We also need to extend the south-west rail link past Leppington to relieve our regional road and existing rail line congestion. It is also imperative that we make improvements to the existing rail lines and services, including interchanges, express services, easy access, increased services and improved parking and security. Improvements are also needed for our existing bus services, including high-frequency early services, priority connections from Camden to Macarthur via Narellan, and connections from Campbelltown to Liverpool via Oran Park and Leppington.

Also on our list of infrastructure projects is the upgrade of Picton Road, including the interchange with the Hume Highway, and the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton rail link to take more trucks off the road and improve our freight transportation services. I would also like to see the Badgerys Creek airport site rezoned to create employment-generating lands and allow residents not to have the restrictions of an airport zoning affecting work on their homes.

Recreational and cultural facilities, or so-called soft infrastructure, are also important factors for our growing community. Be it sports facilities, humanities or the arts, it is important that we have this infrastructure available to turn all of this new development into real communities.

As you can see, Madam Deputy Speaker, there are many projects in my electorate which are needed to service new and existing residents in the Macarthur region. With a forecast of 300 per cent growth in the next two to three decades, it is vital that we develop a region-wide strategy to deal with the expected population boom. It has been very productive working with my local government and state government colleagues to establish this plan for our community's future, and I would like to thank them for their input. We all agree that we need good planning, collaboration and coordination to secure resources that will turn the challenges of growth into opportunities for economic prosperity, social equity and environmental enhancement, which are all crucial in determining our quality of life. I believe that this joint effort between all levels of government will help us achieve more for the communities which we represent. I also believe the key to our success lies in infrastructure—planning for it, securing the resources to pay for it and ensuring that it is delivered on time in the right place and on budget. Our next step is to make strong representation to infrastructure-funding agencies and government ministers to capitalise on this growth.

We all have one goal for Macarthur—to make it more prosperous and to offer a better lifestyle for our children in future generations. I will continue to fight for the infrastructure and services my community deserves as we experience this incredible growth over the next two decades.