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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 1010

Mr LEESER (Berowra) (19:35): It is a privilege to represent the electorate of Berowra and to bring the views of the people of Berowra to this parliament on a daily basis. Over December and January, I conducted a community survey to gauge the issues that matter most to the residents of Berowra, and I received a fantastic response from across the electorate.

The No. 1 issue for Berowra residents is traffic congestion and the need for better road infrastructure. Around 36 per cent of respondents raised roads and traffic congestion as a problem in the local area. Time stuck in traffic is time away from family. Time stuck in traffic represents billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. Only a couple of weeks ago, we saw the impact of an accident on the M1 Pacific Motorway trapping motorists in their vehicles for up to 10 hours. And, just the day before, all southbound lanes were closed on Pennant Hills Road at Normanhurst after a truck spilled its load of milk across the highway, causing a five-kilometre traffic jam.

Our road infrastructure needs upgrading. That is why I am proud to be part of a government that is committed to delivering real results not only for my electorate but right across the country. The coalition government has committed to investing $50 billion in infrastructure between 2013 and 2020, and we are on track to meet this target. Infrastructure investment funding for 2016-17 alone is almost $8½ billion. This investment is vital to Australia's future as part of our long-term plan to grow the economy and create more jobs. It is also why I am such a strong supporter of NorthConnex. NorthConnex will make a fundamental difference to traffic congestion in my electorate by removing 5,000 trucks each day and improving the flow of traffic along Pennant Hills Road. Pennant Hills Road has been adjudged one of the worst roads in Australia. I was pleased to show the Prime Minister over the NorthConnex site at West Pennant Hills in October last year. The Prime Minister remarked at West Pennant Hills:

Here … you see this one of the most congested roads in Australia. That congestion is coming to an end …

I am proud to inform the House tonight that NorthConnex is being delivered on time and on budget and will help improve congestion on Pennant Hills Road and our local roads.

While I am speaking about NorthConnex, next Tuesday I will be visiting the NorthConnex training hub at West Pennant Hills in my electorate to participate in a general awareness training session with the organisation MATES In Construction. MATES In Construction aims to be Australia's leading industry suicide prevention organisation and is focused on raising awareness, on building capacity, on providing help and on research. I had the pleasure of meeting with their CEO, Peter McClelland, late last year, and I am looking forward to continuing to achieve results in this space.

Returning to my community survey, of those respondents to the survey who highlighted roads and infrastructure as a key issue, 20 per cent mentioned the need to widen New Line Road. In significant areas New Line Road is a single-lane road each way. That might have been appropriate at a time when suburbs like Cherrybrook were orchards and farms, but it is not appropriate for what has become a major artery for suburbs to the north-west of my electorate. Since my election in July, New Line Road has been an important priority for me and I have lobbied the New South Wales minister for roads to do something about it. I sought a costing for the widening of New Line Road from the former New South Wales minister for roads, Duncan Gay, and asked about the state priority for the project.

I have also approached the federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, to see what can be done at the federal level to fast-track the widening of New Line Road. Minister Fletcher's advice is that the New South Wales government needs to prioritise the road and put an application forward to the federal government in order for it to be considered for federal funds against other competing proposals. I will be writing to the new New South Wales minister for roads, Melinda Pavey, to encourage her to officially prioritise the upgrade of New Line Road. I will continue to fight for the widening of New Line Road for our community. Tonight I announce that I will be starting a petition to get the New South Wales minister for roads to prioritise the widening of New Line Road and to hear the voice of my community.

Other local issues raised by Berowra residents in the community survey include their desire to see improvements made to other existing infrastructure which is properly the responsibility of state governments and local councils, and I will be passing such concerns along to my state and council colleagues. People have raised the issues of parking at Pennant Hills and Beecroft stations, a lift at Beecroft station and the need for traffic lights at the intersection of Old Northern Road and Glenhaven Road. All of these issues are very important to people in the local community.

One of the major national issues that has been raised is the issue of maintaining strong borders and improved settlement policies for new migrants. I believe in Australia's diversity, but I also believe in strong border protection. It is the coalition that has delivered both of those things.

I am pleased to draw the attention of the House this evening to some of the issues facing my electorate. It is an honour to represent the people of Berowra. I will continue to fight for them in this place. (Time expired)