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Thursday, 12 March 2009
Page: 2568

Ms HALL (9:52 AM) —I would like to share with the House today my great delight that the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Northern Australia, who was the previous speaker on this side of the parliament, approved $825,000 under the Better Regions program for the upgrade and extension to Fernleigh Track. This project has enormous support within the community. I went to the last election with a commitment that this would be built. I would have to say that I am absolutely delighted that this extension has been approved. It will provide a walkway-cycleway; it will extend the current Fernleigh Track to Redhead; it goes through beautiful bushland; it is a tourist attraction; and it creates a wonderful transport corridor. It shows that the Rudd government delivers on its election promises.

The extension, as I mentioned earlier, has widespread support within the community. It is not only the electorate of Shortland that will benefit; it is of great advantage to the whole of the Hunter and the Central Coast. It really will be a unique and outstanding tourist attraction. The other thing that is so special about this project is that it is a partnership between Commonwealth, state and local government. It is something for which we have all been working very hard to see actually come to fruition. When I heard the news that the project had been approved, I rang the Mayor of Lake Macquarie. The Mayor of Lake Macquarie is an independent mayor; he is not in any way associated with my side of politics. His words were that he was ‘extremely delighted’ and that ‘this is something that will be welcomed by everyone in the community’. This project will be used for both commuting and casual use and it was funded, as I said, through the Rudd government’s Better Regions program. It has been a wonderful joint effort by all levels of government. I cannot help but make the contrast between our approach to these types of projects and the approach of the Howard government. Our approach is transparent, open and delivers to the community, whilst the Howard government’s was done behind closed doors and some very, very inappropriate projects were approved. (Time expired)