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Monday, 26 March 2001
Page: 25663

Mr PRICE (10:32 PM) —I want to tell the House tonight about how pleased I was to be at the Joan Sutherland Centre on Sunday to hear our state Premier, Bob Carr, in the fair city of Penrith, part of which I am proud to represent, give a mid-year report. I think it is fair to say that the Penrith City Council are very generous. They not only provided the Joan Sutherland Centre as a venue but I might say that they also generously provided $15,000 to ensure that the ADI protestors were there to protest about the ADI site development. Perhaps I should first talk about that.

It is interesting that they are very concerned about the protection of the Cumberland Plain forest, and they want the whole ADI development to be turned into a park. I am an arborist and I love trees and parks. The Nurragingi Reserve when I was on council was not my idea, but no councillor pushed more for that than I did. That is a mere 90 hectares. The open space in the ADI site is 630 hectares. In relation to the Cumberland Plain forest, all the high value forest and all the medium value forest is being preserved. While the low-grade forest, including some bald spots, is not being preserved, when the development is finished whatever Cumberland Plain forest is there today will be there some time into the future. I guess you might be concerned, Mr Speaker, if a development was getting rid of old-growth forests, but all the forests on the ADI site are regrowth. The high value, the medium value and the low value are not original forest but regrowth. I think Defence is to be congratulated for allowing for this regrowth on its site.

Some people say that the federal government has given the foreshores in Sydney Harbour back to the people of Sydney. I think that is a good thing. But that is only 60 hectares. The open space on the ADI site is 630 hectares, something like 10 times the amount of space that is being preserved on the foreshores of Sydney. If, at the beginning of this debate, people had said that the whole development should have been a park, I would have been there at the front of the march saying that is the way it should be. But that is not true. It was only later—midway through what has been about a nine-year process—that people have argued that it now should be all turned into park. It is only these people who are agitating that it all should be a park who somehow can turn the preservation of 630 hectares in a 1,600-hectare site into some sort of colossal failure—who say that 630 hectares of open space is somehow a terrible failure.

As I was saying, Penrith City Council is to be congratulated. It is very generous to provide our Premier with the Joan Sutherland Centre and also very generous to have funded this group to the value of $15,000. Penrith is one of the most debt-ridden councils in the city of Sydney. And this so that the Premier could enjoy these protestors! I was very pleased that the Premier announced that more than $320 million would be going to rectify and improve Windsor Road. When it comes to the Sydney orbital, this federal government is spending only $300 million—and this in Western Sydney, when we already have three existing tolls.

I believe that, if we are going to advance infrastructure projects, perhaps we should pay. But who is paying for the Pacific Highway? It is more than double the cost of the Western Sydney orbital. There is no toll on the Pacific Highway for all its improvements. Because we in Western Sydney have a tendency to vote Labor, the federal government says, `We'll just put $300 million in and the rest can be paid via a toll—a $5 toll.' (Time expired)