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Monday, 9 September 2019
Page: 2215

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (19:17): Maitland is at the heart of my electorate—and I'll just take a moment to acknowledge the member for Warringah, who has a long family history in the beautiful city of Maitland. It is undergoing a population boom. My father used to say that the dark, rich alluvial soil of Maitland could grow babies. Well, indeed, I think it is. In fact, I know it is growing babies! You don't need to drive more than a kilometre or two out of the city of Maitland to see brand-new houses and estates or billboards promoting another house-and-land package. At the last count, our fair city of Maitland and its LGA is growing at one family per day. That's an incredible growth rate for a city like Maitland.

With this population growth has come more cars on the road, and the congestion has become unbearable for the people of Maitland and surrounding areas. There are roundabouts that should be traffic lights, and two lanes where there should have been four. There's an overpass that should've been built in two directions that only went one way under a Liberal state government a number of years ago. There are people who feel completely frustrated that our regional city has grown so quickly but the infrastructure spend has not met that growth rate. Once quiet roads have become super busy. Main Road, Heddon Greta—it can now take people ages to get out there, and sometimes it's not safe when they're trying to make a right turn to go to Maitland. It really is a substandard situation. And while members of the government stand here today congratulating themselves on projects they've completed in the city, I urge them to come to regional areas like Maitland in my seat of Paterson. They've failed these regional areas. They haven't appropriately funded projects that are most definitely overdue.

This year's budget had a headline figure of $1.6 billion for the M1 which needs to be built in my seat. It's the bypass of Raymond Terrace, from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace. Planning for that project began 15 years ago, and we've still not seen any meaningful work to get it done. In this case, the New South Wales government has committed to its share of the funding to get the project ready for construction. Forward estimates, however, reveal that just four per cent of federal funding will be made available in the next five years. The majority of the $1.6 billion committed won't be spent until 2023. This was the only election commitment made by the government in Paterson at the last election, and it is absolutely vital that this piece of infrastructure be built.

Another one: Labor announced in 2016, when I stood to be the member for Paterson, that we would raise the road at Testers Hollow. Thankfully, the government at that time matched the commitment. Plans have just been released. The road has been lifted but it hasn't been widened. In this growth region we've seen many developers build housing estates and they have been required to put in dual-lane access on the road, but Testers Hollow is only the same one-lane-each-way road. Seriously, we need to be thinking about making that a dual-lane road. The project is on track, but we do need to consider the congestion in that area.

Main Road, Heddon Greta, is another case in point. It's become a bit of a battleground. Increased demand on the Hunter Expressway has created pressure on this feeder road, and that's put so much pressure on the residence at Heddon Greta. Traffic on this road has increased by at least 5,000 cars per day. Five thousand cars per day in a small regional village is an extraordinary growth rate for anywhere. It has also been averaging between 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles using this road every day. The state and federal governments have ignored Main Road at Heddon Greta. They need to do something about it. In fact, there's a near miss nearly every day.

Also, we desperately need our airport to be upgraded to give us long-range reach into the Asian region. This could deliver over 4,410 jobs and deliver $12.7 billion into our regional economy. There are so many terrific infrastructure and congestion-busting projects in the regions. This government just needs to start funding them.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.