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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2186


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (18:17): It may be uncomfortable to come to terms with our past failings, but it is only possible to learn when our history is honestly reviewed. The recipe for success is simple: to achieve the most economically efficient result time spent in planning is a great investment. An investment in infrastructure that liberates our potential is money well invested. At some point in our past there was a need for railways and so we built railways—yes, on every different gauge known to man and some invented right here. Productivity was impaired, costs were driven up and gradually, as we came to terms with this ridiculous situation, a great cost to repair.

We are a big country. We need roads. Yet how do we compare with other similar countries. Our roads in our cities cannot cope and the roads linking our cities are 50 years behind our needs. There have been promises and debate regarding the completion of the Chatswood to Parramatta rail links and the North West Rail Link. Delays on the Chatswood to Parramatta links have driven the price up by 500 per cent. It is interesting to note that the two short links that are required to complete the Epping to Parramatta section utilise the Carlingford line, which was built in the 1890s. Yet the money promised by this government to the people of Bennelong at the last election has since disappeared off the books. Here we go again, back in another appropriation debate, retelling the same stories of woe and watching the costs escalate every day.

The North West Rail Link has increased in construction cost from an estimate of $360 million in 1998 to an estimate of $8 billion to $10 billion now. At least the O'Farrell government is keeping its election promise to build this line with or without federal support. Our country needs planning and we need the infrastructure to halt the path we are on regarding our major cities that will undoubtedly stifle our development, denying our nation's true potential. Land needs to be released that will reverse the current trend of ever-greater costs of living and ever-reduced quality of life. High-speed rail from Melbourne to Sydney, just like the Harbour Bridge of 80 years ago, will open up proportionately greater tracts of land to allow for unimaginable growth now and for years to come, and at the same time it will release the pressure valve currently choking our major cities and my local community.

While this great infrastructure project is being constructed let us already have planned the next phase of the high-speed rail network, the next stage of our nation's development, or perhaps we will find ourselves back here again the next time an appropriations bill is presented to this parliament, debating the same needs but not having the courage to serve them and to truly serve our nation. My constituents in Bennelong deserve better. Our heroes who fought for our nation and left a legacy of hard work and commitment deserve better. While those in government spend all their time navel-gazing and worrying about their own political futures, Rome is burning. More and more of my Bennelong constituents seem to have the answer. Perhaps it is only through a change of government that we can get our nation back on a high-speed track.