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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 8596

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (22:04): Today I rise to call on the New South Wales government and Premier Barry O'Farrell to start work on the long-awaited Parramatta to Epping rail link, unlocking $2.1 billion in much-needed federal infrastructure funding for my community and for New South Wales. The Parramatta to Epping rail link involves extending the Chatswood to Epping rail link by 10 kilometres to Parramatta. It would cut travel times between Chatswood and Parramatta by 25 minutes and connect workers in south-west and western Sydney with jobs at Macquarie Park, North Ryde, Chatswood and Parramatta—Sydney's geographic centre and second CBD.

I get a lot of calls from residents who are frustrated with the O'Farrell government dragging its feet on this issue. One such resident is Tim from North Parramatta. Earlier this year he wrote in support of the link:

I support the project for this rail link. I work in Macquarie and there really is not a good transport network to get to that area and the roads are very congested. To get there by train with the current rail links you need to take 3 trains to get to Macquarie Park (Parramatta > Strathfield, Strathfield > Epping, Epping > Macquarie Park) and the bus takes about 1 hr to get only 17kms … Car is the best option of about ½hr-45mins but petrol is so expensive and environmentally unfriendly exhaust fumes into the environment.

Another resident, Chris from Telopea, wrote about his frustration:

It is something that would make a great difference to me and my family (we live in Telopea and the trains come about once every 50 minutes in peak hour—then you change at Clyde—blah blah blah—I am sure you have heard it all before).

Tim's and Chris's cases perfectly highlight the plight of many residents, especially those around Carlingford, who often need to wake up an hour earlier than residents from surrounding suburbs just to make it to work on time by public transport.

The Parramatta to Epping rail link is an important project that will open up opportunities for people in Western Sydney to access Macquarie University and the high-tech jobs that are located around North Ryde. It will mean residents like Tim and Chris will not have to suffer the ordeal of spending over an hour to get to work, when their work is so close by. You can stand at the Carlingford rail line and, I swear, the Epping rail station is so close you can see it. The link will mean that we will finally have the infrastructure in place to support the dense developments around Carlingford and unlock much private investment that sits in shopping centres and sites where plans were in place and are waiting for the link to be built.

Parramatta and Greater Western Sydney are economic powerhouses of the Australian economy. With this in mind it is amazing to think that in a recent visit to Parramatta Mr O'Farrell and Mr Abbott would play politics with this and delay a vital piece of infrastructure, putting at risk the economic standing of Western Sydney. At the last election, despite making a massive $40 billion commitment to infrastructure, the Leader of the Opposition failed to promise even $1 for a project in Sydney, basically saying at the time that the people of New South Wales had a change from a state Labor government, and they did.

But let me say this. The money is now on the table. The rail link has been planned. In fact it was originally planned from Parramatta to Chatswood. It is partially built—it stops at Epping. The remaining 10 kilometres is critical. The money is on the table—$2.1 billion of federal money—and it really is time for this project to get underway. It is probably the most on again, off again rail project in the country. It has been promised for well over 50 years. The funding has been put aside by at least two federal Labor governments—there is probably a third one there somewhere, but at least two governments. The project has been cancelled, rejected or delayed at least four times by two Liberal and two Labor state governments.

This is a project that everybody knows we need but just keeps getting caught up in politics and promised and delayed and promised and delayed. Given the need for this project it really is time for the politics to be put aside and the project to be built. It is astonishing to me that, with $2.1 billion on the table for a project that links the second CBD of Sydney, one of the largest economies in the country, with an incredibly large employment hub up in North Ryde, this project would be shelved so easily.

I will conclude by calling on the state government once again to rethink its position on this, to recognise that $2.1 billion in infrastructure funding is sitting there waiting to be used. Quite frankly: just get on with it.