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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4420

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (19:49): I understand that each and every one of us here in the House of Representatives waits with bated breath as the Treasurer hands down his federal budget. Each of us has a wish list for those that we represent, no matter what side of the parliament we sit upon. In recent days, those of us on this side of the House have railed against the government's cuts to the ABC, hospitals, education and training, and pensioner supports. These cuts are faced by low- and middle-income people and families right across our nation, and they are crucial to children, families, the elderly, to our economy.

As the federal member for Paterson, I would like to use my time this evenings to highlight a challenge faced by my constituents and also by many constituents of my colleagues from both sides of this House. It is an obstacle and an impediment to daily life and to the economy of our country. It is a problem created by national circumstances and it is too big for my community to solve on its own. I am talking about road transportation, which is absolutely critical in my electorate of Paterson. Specifically, I am talking about the critical junction of national importance involving the M1, the Pacific Highway and the New England Highway. This is crucial not only because many people face a lengthy commute from regional areas of my electorate to Newcastle's CBD to go to work but it is crucial because two major highways deposit national travellers and transport drivers in the middle of my electorate travelling east to west on the New England Highway, and north to south on the M1.

I was just having a conversation with my colleague the member for Werriwa. She regularly travels up the M1 to visit her family in Newcastle and she said to me, 'At Christmas, you get to the end of the M1, go over the speed humps as you get to the end of the national motorway—in my electorate—and you hit a roundabout, which is soon to become a traffic-lighted intersection, and then you turn right, go up the road and take a dogleg left, go over a bridge and off you go again. And sometimes that three-kilometre stretch of road can take four to five hours to get through.' That is just unbelievable at this time. You know it's not just happening at Christmas; it's Easter, it's public holidays, and now it's happening with monotonous regularity when there's no special event on, just because of the increase in traffic. It's crucial because our area is expanding and experiencing rapid growth. In fact, my area of Maitland, which takes in the New England Highway, is the second-fastest growing area outside of Western Sydney in New South Wales. So this problem is critical, not just to the people I represent but to many people that those present in this chamber represent as well.

After Mr Morrison's federal budget failed to mention this motorway, I sought and received a briefing with Anna Zycki, the Hunter region director of Roads and Maritime Services New South Wales. I thank Ms Zycki for her briefing. I was able to confirm from this briefing that this national road corridor was identified as a potential problem more than 15 years ago. However, timing for construction is still not confirmed. Indeed, since the initial plan to address this bottleneck was investigated around the turn of the century, population has boomed and industrial developments are predicted to drive a marked increase in vehicular movements. In fact, it was flagged in the Infrastructure Australia priority list earlier this year as a national connectivity problem. The Infrastructure Australia list acknowledges that this strategic junction, where the north-south traffic flows between Sydney and Brisbane cross the east-west traffic flows between the Hunter-New England region and the Port of Newcastle. The proposed fix is an extension of the Pacific Highway M1 to Raymond Terrace and an upgrade to the motorway. It is black and white. This is a junction of national importance and yet the government has put not one cent towards it. It is a matter that is critical now. It needs attention now, it needs funding now and it needs this government to solve it and step up to the plate; otherwise we will.