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Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Page: 9046

Mr HAWKE (8:49 PM) —I rise this evening to speak about the important issue of discrimination against residents in north-western Sydney, and in my electorate of Mitchell in particular, by successive government policies in relation to infrastructure. The importance of infrastructure to the north-west of Sydney cannot be overvalued. This week Infrastructure Australia submissions are closing and we will be in the critical phase of the federal government identifying a national infrastructure priority list. There is a real sense in my community—in the people, the homes and the businesses—that we are in a very critical phase of providing infrastructure in north-west Sydney. I have received hundreds of emails about this subject and many visits. Everywhere I go and at every business I visit it is raised. I will outline some of the reasons why I believe there are some very cogent arguments and important matters that we have to consider in relation to providing infrastructure to north-western Sydney.

In 1999, the first state government announcement in relation to a north-western rail link was made and since that time there have been at least 10 subsequent announcements of rail lines that would be provided in north-western Sydney. Of course, today we know that there is no answer in relation to whether this important and critical project will go ahead and it is something that we do need to consider.

My electorate of Mitchell is one of the fastest-growing areas of Sydney. South-west and north-west of Sydney form the major growth corridors of Sydney. Our city of Sydney is bursting at the seams. Immigration and population growth all fall on the shoulders of the north-west and the south-west of our city. The demands of this increase in population are substantial, requiring greater government focus, thought, planning and preparation for the livability and the standards of living that people require in such rapid growth corridors. Indeed, the Hills District is also a major contributor to employment in greater metropolitan Sydney. We have a number of industrial and commercial precincts, such as the Norwest Business Park, the Castle Hill trading zone and major shopping centres such as Castle Towers and the new Rouse Hill Town Centre.

The Norwest Business Park, which is one of the major parks in Sydney, is home to over 400 companies, including Woolworths, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, ResMed and many other innovative companies. Amway is headquartered nationally in my electorate. The Norwest Business Park employs around 25,000 people, and that number is expected to grow to about 45,000 over the next decade. The growth in this employment and in the amount of people travelling to and from work each day is already at a critical mass in the north-west of Sydney. It is one of the few places in Sydney at the moment where there is a massive demand for public transport but no supply. The bus companies in my electorate have tripled the number of bus services that they are providing going to and from the city, but still the demand far outstrips the supply.

There is a clear-cut and coherent case for better infrastructure within the north-west of Sydney. All of the benefits that flow from having better mass transit systems and reducing the number of cars on the road are backed up by the statistics. Mr Speaker, if you look at the census, you will find that of all the electorates in Australia they rank my electorate of Mitchell as the No. 1 electorate for two or more cars per dwelling; 70.2 per cent of the dwellings within Mitchell have two or more cars. Everybody in the Hills District knows this is the case. We are hugely car dependent. The reason we are car dependent is no mystery. It is deliberate failure by government policy. You have two or more cars per household in 70 per cent of the households in my electorate because there is no mass transit system. There is no choice; there is no option; there is no alternative.

The benefits in relation to this are clear cut. Last week, my electorate was concerned to hear that the government may not have a strong view about this project, the North-West Metro rail link. This was greatly disappointing to my community because this has social benefits, environmental benefits and congestion benefits for Sydney. Indeed, there is a very strong case that can be built that, with all of the property taxes, the rapid growth corridors that have been imposed on the north-west of Sydney, including the business corridors and the new Rouse Hill Town Centre—in fact, it is estimated that within the Baulkham Hills shire the growth will be from 165,000, which is the current population projection, to 238,000 by 2015, which is massive growth—require a massive transit system. (Time expired)