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Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Page: 9261

Mr HOCKEY (7:26 PM) —When the Rudd government was elected it promised to end the blame game and ensure that state governments were delivering results for residents across Australia. In my state of New South Wales it has failed on both counts. We have seen the mess that was meant to be the rollout of computers in our schools, with the New South Wales government having withdrawn from the Minister for Education’s headline program. There has been no reform for our hospital system, which continues to place those in need of medical care in unacceptably long queues. And we have seen the New South Wales government back away from the infrastructure projects it has promised repeatedly, announced repeatedly and re-announced repeatedly. These are just a few of the areas where Labor’s management of the New South Wales state government has fallen well short of what the community expects and is now demanding. More interested in spin than substance—which is obviously a Labor Party trait—the New South Wales Labor administration is now looking down the barrel of a mini-budget that it is struggling to manage. It has avoided making the tough decisions for 13 years, and now that former Treasurer Costa has revealed the truth about the state’s finances it knows not what to do.

On Saturday, the electors of New South Wales in Ryde, just next door to my electorate of North Sydney, will have the opportunity to send Labor a message that its performance is just not good enough. They will have the chance to start the change to a better future for New South Wales by electing a Liberal to represent the interests of the residents of Ryde. I understand the frustration of those residents. Like them, I use Victoria Road and wonder how on earth Labor thinks it is acceptable for one of our most important roads to be choked by ever-worsening traffic problems. Like Ryde’s young families, I worry about whether the public hospitals in the area, such as Ryde Hospital, will be able to provide timely access to high-quality health care for our children. As a ferry user, I understand why residents in Meadowbank want their own ferry service secured and improved during peak hour.

Like constituents in my electorate, Ryde residents wonder why on earth they have to suffer inadequate rail services. Labor forces residents to make the unpalatable decision of choosing between the traffic queues or to run the risk of using unreliable trains. CityRail’s own data shows that the state government has failed to meet its own on-time running targets eight out of 36 weeks in 2008. That is less than a quarter of the time this year that trains have run on time—even with the ever-expanding definition of what ‘on time’ means. Every time the Labor Party decides it is going to have reform of CityRail, what does it do? It changes the definition of on-time travel, making it more lax and ensuring that, no matter how late the trains are, they are on time. And we now know that Labor has a secret plan to cut local train services by 50 per cent and add seven minutes to travel times. For that performance, it is expecting commuters to pay fare increases of 20 per cent over the next four years.

It is little wonder that the member for Bennelong is more likely to be seen in Antarctica than she is supporting the Labor campaign in Ryde and for that she should have our sympathy. I do not blame her for a second for running away from her Labor colleagues and their appalling performance in New South Wales.

The Liberal Party has outlined a positive plan that addresses these and the other areas of Labor’s neglect in Ryde. Victor Dominello, our Liberal candidate, is a person of immense integrity and great drive. His commitment is to Ryde, to deliver a better deal for local residents. Born and bred in Ryde, he has served energetically on the local council and understands the local community. His family settled in the area in the 1930s as market gardeners and his father was a local greengrocer. He has lived for 36 years in Ryde and will stand up for local residents. I am proud to call him a friend. I recognise his immense personal integrity and I believe that the people of Ryde would be very well served by Victor Dominello.

This Saturday can be a turning point for New South Wales. Voters in Ryde can send the message that they want a new start and local MPs who will deliver more substance than spin. Only a vote for Victor Dominello can secure the best outcome for the residents of Ryde.