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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23335

Mr FARMER (4:36 PM) —Roads are one of the most basic and important pieces of infrastructure in our communities. In my electorate of Macarthur, where the population is growing at one of the fastest rates in the country, road infrastructure has been forgotten. Many of the roads in our community are at choking point and simply cannot safely handle the volume of traffic using them every day. One of these roads is Camden Valley Way. This major state arterial road links Camden in the south with the M5 in the north. It rings the Hume Highway and provides local traffic access.

In the last 10 years, the population in the areas surrounding Camden Valley Way has doubled and Camden is now home to 45,000 people. This growth has put thousands of extra cars on the road each day, and as people use it to commute to and from work it becomes more and more clogged. It has congested the road, and this means that it is now almost impossible to turn on to the road from one of the many intersections like Raby Road, Catherine Fields Road and Cobbitty Road. I have stood and watched with amazement as school buses wait at these intersections for up to 20 minutes in the morning for a break in the traffic so they can simply pull out to take the children to school. It is a daily game of cat and mouse for those people in cars trying to turn on to Camden Valley Way in peak hours, with drivers pushing the limits as they try to run the gauntlet to get on to the road. This causes accidents. In fact, in the last five years the RTA statistics show there have been 630 accidents on this road—over half occurred near intersections. Sadly, there have been six deaths on the road in the same time.

Since I was elected in 2001, I have been lobbying for the state government to upgrade the road urgently. After getting the run-around, I was told that it was just too expensive to upgrade the whole road. So I developed a plan to upgrade some of the key intersections with traffic lights. Estimates are that each set of lights would cost around $3 million to install and to upgrade the road around them. I proposed a joint funding arrangement, using state government funding for the bulk of the cost, with help from the federal government's black spot program, which can provide up to a maximum of $750,000. This would provide an immediate solution to the problem. It would create a break in the traffic flow so that drivers can turn on to Camden Valley Way without having to take the unnecessary risks that they do on a daily basis at the moment.

I wrote to the New South Wales RTA in October last year proposing a joint funding arrangement. My request to meet with the New South Wales RTA to discuss this option was ignored, and my letter has not even been acknowledged. Just after, I received a letter from Mr Ed Cuppitt, who lives on Camden Valley Way. Several lines from his letter stick in my mind. He said:

Logic must prevail. When is someone in authority going to listen, hear and act before it is too late? Those of us who live on Camden Valley Way are forced to play Russian roulette when entering and leaving Camden Valley Way. Every one of us can talk about the deaths, the collisions and the stupidity of Camden Valley Way, but those with the power seem to wear blinkers and earmuffs.

In February this year, I tabled a petition in this House from over 120 of my constituents on this issue. It read as follows:

The electors of the division of Macarthur adjoining Camden Valley Way bring to the attention the daily ingress/egress from their locality to Camden Valley Way due to a combination of the 90km/h speed limit and the ever increasing volume of traffic.

The petitioners request that the House call on the NSW State Government to urgently construct roundabouts, traffic lights or some form of traffic management system at the intersections of:

1. Camden Valley Way and Springfield Road;

2. Camden Valley Way and Cobbitty Road; or

3. Camden Valley Way and Raby Road.

In March this year it seemed our lobbying was going to pay off. New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden came out to our area and saw first-hand how dangerous the road was. He immediately committed $5 million for upgrades on the dangerous intersections along the lines of the proposal I had been pushing since 2001. But the New South Wales Labor government refused to match the promise, and in the wash-up of the state election the community was once again left without any action on Camden Valley Way. So I took the case up again and wrote to the newly elected state member for Camden, seeking a meeting with the minister to discuss my joint funding proposal. My letter was referred to his parliamentary secretary and the meeting request was refused. After 12 months of work I was back to square one.

A few weeks ago I decided to write to my local community seeking their support to move the issue forward. I wrote to them and told them about the things I had been trying to do with respect to Camden Valley Way. I asked them to show their support and sign a petition to the New South Wales roads minister, asking him to meet with me to discuss my joint funding proposal. I have been overwhelmed with the response. In only a few weeks, I have had almost 1,500 responses returned to my office. I have literally received dozens of phone calls and letters of support for this campaign. While I value everybody's support, I would like to single out one of the many people who have been extremely supportive: Ian Baloglow of Leppington. Since I sent out my petition, Ian has taken up the battle of Camden Valley Way. He has written to the local newspapers, calling for support for the urgent upgrades of Camden Valley Way for safety's sake. I would like to read from one of those letters that went to our local newspaper. It said:

Camden Valley Way, which is a state responsibility, has been the subject of many motor vehicle accidents, some ending in serious injury and death. On Friday, the 7th of November, local residents received a letter from Pat Farmer MP, who is seeking assistance in pressuring the NSW Roads Minister Carl Scully, to a join a bi-partisan approach to expedite improvements to Camden Valley Way and the black spot intersection with Raby Road.

On Thursday, 6 November, as my 19-year-old daughter, Katherine, was driving to work, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident at this dangerous intersection. Katherine's vehicle was a total write-off, and she was conveyed to hospital via an ambulance. Fortunately, she survived. Five days later, at about 6.10 p.m., I heard a radio update on 2GB stating that there was a two-car accident at the intersection of Camden Valley Way and Raby Road.

The above tends to illustrate the frequency of accidents at this precarious intersection, and I have seen the aftermath of a few of these accidents in recent years. Mr Scully should make this his immediate priority. To allow these dangerous intersections to go unchecked is bordering on pure negligence. Hopefully, with the support of people like Ian, we can convince the New South Wales state government that we should upgrade Camden Valley Way urgently.

I wrote to Carl Scully again on Friday, asking for a meeting to discuss my joint funding proposal. In that letter I reminded him of his responsibilities to fund this state road and again offered him my joint funding proposal. I hope to be able to stand in this House early next year and say that that meeting has happened and that Camden Valley Way will get some upgrades to help stop more lives being lost.

Speaking from personal experience, I have had a brother and another member of my family involved in accidents on that road. It is a well-known black spot amongst the locals there and something needs to be done about it. We need to stop playing politics between state and federal governments. We need to understand and assume our responsibilities to the general public and do all that we can to save lives in bad black spots such as Camden Valley Way.