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Monday, 14 October 1991
Page: 1889

Mr ELLIOTT(10.53 p.m.) —-Tonight I want to speak on a matter that really shows the Liberal and National parties' absolute contempt for the people of western Sydney. I heard the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) earlier tonight speaking about the needs of western Sydney. It is appropriate to make these remarks because my concerns relate to an issue relating to the New South Wales Greiner Government, which in a decision that it has taken today has shown contempt for the people in Parramatta and western Sydney.

Last week I spoke in the Budget Estimates debate about the Commonwealth's commitment to flood mitigation in western Sydney and the urgent need for the people of Parramatta and Toongabbie to have that recognition by the Commonwealth matched by the New South Wales Government. As recently as tonight I found out that the New South Wales Government has refused to meet and honour the commitment made by the Federal Hawke Government in the 1991 Budget to help alleviate the flood problems in western Sydney.

The decision of the Greiner Government highlights the contemptuous attitude that it has to western Sydney. I suggest it highlights the reason why the Greiner Government has such a total lack of support from the people of New South Wales, as the polls confirm, and also highlights the fact that it has lost the support even of members of its former coalition government in the State of New South Wales. While we are able to say that the Federal Government's initiatives in the Budget to provide an extra $1m for flood mitigation works in western Sydney have been hailed by the people and the local government from the region as a major step forward on the part of the Commonwealth Government after years of lobbying by the community to overcome their problems, the State Government has refused to come to the party and to match those funds to accelerate urban flood mitigation works in our area.

It is worth highlighting at this stage that in recent years there have been fatalities because of the flood problems. Something like 11 deaths have occurred there since 1976. If that does not highlight the need for governments to respond positively to the problems, it is hard to see what does. As well as that, we have had major flooding of homes. There were 400 homes were flooded in 1986 and a large number of homes were flooded in 1988; but still the Greiner Government has refused to match the Federal Government's initiative in this year's Budget. For the people, particularly in the Toongabbie area, who would have been major beneficiaries of this work, I can only say that the Commonwealth Government will maintain absolute pressure on the New South Wales Government to ensure that it reverses the decision it has taken today and that it comes to the party to match the funding that has been provided by the Commonwealth and to see that we get on with overcoming the difficulties that many people in the region have suffered from.

These problems are made more serious because only last year the New South Wales Government said, at that time as part of a phoney campaign it was running, that any funding that was provided by the Commonwealth would be matched by it; that was the undertaking given. Of course, that was prior to the recent State election in New South Wales where the Government lost the State seats of Parramatta and Penrith and came very close to losing a third seat, Badgerys Creek. Even with those losses, clearly it had no regard and no interest in trying to present a facade of doing something about the problems these days.

It also highlights the fact that the Greiner Government really typifies what the Liberal-National Party is concerned about. In the Sydney area that Government is more interested in doing things to help the people on the North Shore than it is in helping the people in the western suburbs, where ordinary citizens live and have particular needs which the conservatives have never cared about. In the case of people who live in the electorates of Parramatta, Prospect and Greenway, the Liberal Party has no regard for those areas, no policies and no commitment to help overcome the problems of the people in those areas.

It is pleasing to see that the decisions which this Commonwealth Government took in this year's Budget recognised those concerns. We have listened to the people from that particular part of Australia. We have recognised their needs. The Federal Budget demonstrated the Government's commitment to respond to those particular concerns. At the same time, we are faced with a Liberal Party and National Party not caring one iota about trying to solve the flood problems of the people of the region.

I say to all the other representatives of western Sydney and of local government in New South Wales from that region that we will be demanding that the Greiner Government demonstrate its commitment to the people of western Sydney by the reversal of this very unfair decision to not match a Federal Government initiative that would have gone a long way towards overcoming the immediate flood problems and accelerating the facilitation of works that would overcome those problems. Certainly the work is long overdue.(Time expired)