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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 193

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (12:31): I rise to speak in reply to the Governor-General's speech, which was made some several months ago now. It was a great pleasure to sit in the Senate and to listen to the Governor-General spell out the plans for this coalition government's term in office. I would like to start by thanking the electors of the seat of Hughes for putting their trust and their confidence in me to represent them in this place, in our federal parliament. I give my commitment to the people of Hughes that I will not let them down and I will stand up for issues that are important not only to our national economy but also to our local area.

In doing so, I take this opportunity to reflect on what we learnt over the 5½ to six years of Labor government. There is a thing called Mauldin's law, and I think it is something we should reflect on and learn from. Mauldin's law states that, for every government law hurriedly passed, designed to fix some perceived crisis, there will be at least one unintended consequence which will have equal or greater negative effects than the problem it was designed to fix. It goes on:

A further corollary is that laws passed to appease a particular group, whether voters or a particular industry, will have at least three unintended consequences, most of which will eventually have the opposite effect than the intended outcomes and transfer costs to innocent bystanders.

Mauldin's law, those unintended consequences having negative effects, is actually a way of summing up the last 5½ or six years of the previous, Labor, government. That is something we should learn from.

Something I see in my own electorate to which Mauldin's law about unintended consequences applies is the proposal to build an intermodal freight transport hub at Moorebank. To quickly explain, the perceived problem is congestion at Port Botany in moving containers to and from the port, from Sydney and elsewhere in New South Wales. But the problem is not at the port. The port currently has two stevedores, and a third stevedore is due to open within the next few weeks. So the congestion is not at the port itself; the congestion is at the roads around the port.

The concept of the intermodal is that those containers which are now transported by truck to areas in Western Sydney would instead be put on a train. There could be 30 to 100 containers on the one train. They would be shuttled out to Western Sydney and then distributed from the proposed location, Moorebank. The concept that is being promoted around the Moorebank intermodal is that it would take trucks off the road. That is actually a completely flawed concept. Unless you have a rail siding where the containers are taken off, you are not taking trucks off the road. At the very best, all that relocating to the west of Sydney would do would be to reduce the distance trucks had to travel by road.

Very careful analysis needs to be undertaken of where those containers go. When that analysis is done—and it has not been done in any of the modelling by the Moorebank Intermodal Company or the private sector—it will show that the Moorebank is not where they end up. Most of the containers that would go to Moorebank to be redistributed would end up at Wetherill Park or the Eastern Creek area. To get them to those areas from Moorebank would require a 20-kilometre trip via truck. So the entire concept of the Moorebank intermodal is flawed. All it would do would be to slightly reduce truck mileage.

Secondly, the intermodal concept adds another step in the distribution chain. A truck can pick a container up from the port and take it directly to the warehouse, factory or other location where it is to be unloaded. It is simply a straight transfer. An intermodal would put an extra step in the way. Instead of a container being loaded on a truck at the port, the container would be loaded onto a train. That train would then go out to Western Sydney. The container would then be unloaded from the train onto a stack and then put onto a truck. So it is an extra handling process, and that extra handling process has additional costs. The only way that those additional costs can be offset effectively is if you actually move the intermodal far enough away from the port and close enough to where those containers need to be distributed from, and when you look at the analysis of the location of Moorebank it fails on every one of those terms.

The other issue is that this is simply transferring a problem of road congestion at Port Botany to the Moorebank-Liverpool area. Our roads around Liverpool—the M5, the Hume Highway and the surrounding roads—are the most congested in Sydney. They are equally as congested as the M5 around the Port Botany area. In fact the section of the Hume Highway around the back of Liverpool, where it is estimated that 80 per cent of these truck movements will head through, is voted by many agencies as one of the most dangerous and accident-prone sections of all roads in New South Wales. This is an area through which the plans are to divert over 10,000 trucks a day. If an intermodal were to be built at Moorebank, there would be billions and billions of dollars' worth of costs for road upgrades.

The third problem with the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal suggestion is the idea that it will reduce air pollution in Western Sydney. There is an ounce of truth in that, because if you are moving a container via rail as opposed to road you are actually using half the amount of diesel fuel. With steel on steel, moving goods on rail as opposed to road is actually more energy efficient, by half—you are using half the diesel fuel to start with. So you do have a reduction in the emissions of carbon dioxide. But what is missing from every single analysis on moving the containers by taking them off the road and putting them on to rail is the amount of particulate pollution that these locomotives actually spew into the atmosphere. In fact, if you compare the particulate pollution from a modern truck engine that has been built from 2007 onwards with the current locomotive fleet you are talking about an eight- to 10-times increase in particulate pollution from the locomotive engine.

So even though you are saving half the diesel fuel, because that diesel fuel is spewed into the atmosphere and burnt in such old and dirty locomotives you are still ending up with eight to 10 times more particulate pollution in our atmosphere in Western Sydney. And I do not know of anyone in Western Sydney who has become sick or ill, or who has died, from the emissions of CO2. But there are hundreds of people every year in Sydney who die from particulate pollution. The models are simply flawed on this; they do not look at the correct pollution that is causing harm to people in Western Sydney.

The fourth major flaw with the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal is the financial analysis. If we look at the headlines they say that this will have a $10-billion benefit to the economy. But when you actually look at it, the $10 billion is in future dollars. The value that they say in current dollars is $2.5 billion. Let us just take those through; let us just assume that all the economic benefits to add up to $2.5 billion. What is not counted in those benefits is firstly the cost to build the Moorebank intermodal. We are relocating the School of Military Engineering from Moorebank to Holsworthy at an expense of close to $1 billion. So $1 billion is being spent just to move the School of Military Engineering to give a clear patch of land. So before even a sod is turned on this development there is an extra $1 billion worth of costs, and that is not included in the analysis.

The other thing that is not included in the analysis is the opportunity cost of the land. Here we have in Sydney riverside land, right beside the Georges River. Anyone who goes there will realise what a magnificent area this is—this natural river that Macquarie first came down when he travelled from Parramatta and established the town of Liverpool. Macquarie noted in his journals what a magnificent natural site this was. This is the land that we have; it should be open to the public. It should be a prize in our estate, in our natural area. Instead, the plans that we have are to build a giant transport hub on that and to deny the public access to some of the best and most environmentally sensitive and environmentally beautiful land in all of Western Sydney.

If you add those two things in, you end up with almost zero economic benefit. And that is before one single cent is counted on the road upgrades and the road infrastructure that needs to be added to cope with up to 20,000 trucks a day. I will say that again: 20,000 additional truck movements a day are expected to be put in the Liverpool area because of this plan. We have absolute road congestion at the moment in our area; it simply cannot handle an extra thousand trucks a day, let alone the 20,000 trucks a day that are planned. So this is a deeply flawed project.

However, there is a better way; there is a better solution. If we are going to build a new, second airport for Sydney, which will actually be Western Sydney's own international airport at Badgerys Creek, it makes perfectly logical sense to relocate that intermodal transport hub for Western Sydney adjacent to that airport. That frees up the land at Liverpool to do enormous things: to build a business park—a technology park—that was planned by the local council, something that will actually bring thousands and thousands of jobs into the Liverpool area. We have to extend the rail line out to Badgerys Creek airport to make it viable. We can simply extend the Southern Sydney Freight Line, put the rail link out through Leppington and take it up to Badgerys Creek so that an intermodal transport hub will be viable there.

The other thing we must remember is that when I discuss this with so-called experts they say, 'Well, yes, we might also have an intermodal at Badgerys Creek, and we might also have one at Eastern Creek, and we'll also have one at Moorebank; therefore, let Moorebank go.' However, the one factor they overlook is that we have a capacity on the Southern Sydney Freight Line to move these containers. That capacity is a theoretical capacity of 1.9 million container movements, or TEUs—20-foot-equivalent units. So we have about a 1.9 million theoretical capacity, which they say comes down to an actual capacity of about 1.2 to 1.3 or maybe 1.4 million, absolutely stretching it. But the problem we have is that that freight line already has to accommodate 300,000 TEUs to the Enfield Intermodal, which is due to open any week now, and another 250,000 TEUs at the Minto Intermodal, which has been expanded. So we will be struggling with the Moorebank Intermodal to have an extra 1.2 million containers. We will simply saturate the total capacity of that Southern Sydney Freight Line by building the Moorebank Intermodal.

If we are going to locate this intermodal in Western Sydney we are only going to have one shot in the locker because of the capacity constraints on that Southern Sydney Freight Line. If we get this planning decision wrong, this will be a multi-billion-dollar mistake; it will cause traffic chaos in Western Sydney for decades to come. Currently I have a local group—a company called Transport Modelling—that is preparing a detailed report, which I hope to table in the coming weeks here in this parliament, to demonstrate the folly of the government proceeding with the Moorebank Intermodal and showing that it would be far more socially, environmentally and economically viable for that intermodal to instead be located at Badgerys Creek.

I would also like to address one of the big issues we saw over the last six years in which the Labor government had a detrimental effect on this country. That has been the decline in small business. Never before in our history—probably going back to the Great Depression—have we seen such a decline in the percentage and the emphasis on small businesses as we have in the last six years. We cannot underestimate the importance of small business in our economy. I hear so many times, from speakers on both sides, about the importance of small business. Often we talk about it but we introduce policies into this place that actually harm small business. Our future economic prosperity is not based on the companies we have today, or the industries we have today. Our future economic prosperity is based on the new start-up businesses—the new businesses that will bring new innovations. That is what will drive our economy in the future. But we have every single thing turned against small business.

One thing I hope the coalition quickly brings to this parliament to legislate is our promise to introduce unfair-contract terms. This is something we expected the previous Labor government to introduce. It was brought in for consumers, but at the very last minute small business was cut out. There was a coalition election commitment to bring in unfair-contract terms to apply to small business. We have already seen the High Court act on this in relation to penalty clauses. And the argument that was used by certain companies, businesses and sections of our economy—that what was really a penalty clause was in fact a fee for service—has been thrown out by the High Court. Already we have seen a decrease in some of the bank fees. We have the bank fee case going through the courts at the moment. But that decision of the High Court, combined with the coalition's legislation to be introduced on unfair-contract terms, will level the playing field a little bit more for small business.

There are many things we need to do during this term of government. We have a lot to do. But the first thing we must do is learn from the mistakes of the past. Yes, we can criticise, but the time for criticising is over. It is now the coalition's time to move forward. But in doing so we should never forget the mistakes of the past six years—those unintended consequences and how, even though some policies may have been introduced with good intentions, they fell over.