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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14721

Ms TEMPLEMAN (Macquarie) (10:50): For the thousands of people who drive across the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond, the trip is tough and unreliable. I'm proud that a Shorten Labor government will deliver $200 million to change that. I get how long people have waited in traffic for this commitment to be made, and six years of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has meant six years of inaction. This Labor funding commitment is a win. Like bridge users, I am also pleased to see that, finally, the millions of dollars invested by federal Labor in 2010 have been spent to improve the Bells Line intersection. But it should have happened years sooner, and it isn't enough.

When I first ran for parliament, traffic problems were the single biggest issue people raised with me in the Hawkesbury. That's why, in 2010, I stood with Anthony Albanese and committed $20 million for short-term measures and a study to identify longer-term options. But, with the overdevelopment west of the river, the problems will escalate and already have escalated. Of course, this $200 million of Labor funding will go to the New South Wales government to build the bridge. Given the awful experience with the Bells Line of Road and M9 corridors, I'll be demanding a high level of consultation with the community. The process for determining where this bridge goes should be open, transparent and accessible to all. Any acquisition process needs to be fair. I won't allow our community to be excluded and I won't accept a secret process that leaves the people most affected in the dark.

If elderly people waiting more than a year to receive some help to stay in their own homes were hoping for something significant out of this last budget, they will be massively disappointed. There are more than 120,000 people still on the waiting list for an in-home aged-care package. They've been assessed, they've been approved and they'll still be waiting. People like Thelma, Leisa and Tetja get no comfort from the prediction of a future surplus. And how does this government say it is achieving a surplus? By a $5 billion underspend on the NDIS this year and next: by not spending money that has been set aside for people who need new wheelchairs, new hoists and even new limbs; by not spending money on essential speech therapy or occupational therapy; and by not spending money because they delay plans, sometimes for more than a year.

The Liberals are crowing about a surplus built on the exhaustion of people like Amanda and Rachel. This week Amanda said to me:

If only those who say no to the items my children need can just walk a day in my shoes … the lack of funding and the process for NDIS is in my mind disgusting.

Rachel, a strong woman who fights not just for her son but for many others, said:

I'm not sure why the NDIS is letting Cameron down so badly. Every part of my son's day is assisted, he struggles to keep his own head up! Our son requires 24 hour care & we are both mentally, physically & emotionally exhausted.

That's what the Liberals are proud of, and they should be ashamed.