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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1791

Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (12:06): It's always good to follow the member for Parramatta, another fierce Western Sydney advocate. She will also be affected by the new train timetable we have for the western line, which is causing a lot of headaches for the residents in my electorate of Lindsay. The new train timetable is an absolute mess, it's a debacle and it's a guessing game trying to get a run home from work of an afternoon. Delays, cancellations, system meltdowns—day after day after day, the commuters in Western Sydney are being buggered around by the New South Wales Liberals. It's an absolute debacle. Often there is only standing room on our train lines. In a place that recorded 47.3 degrees in summer, there's no air conditioning on those trains either. It's going from bad to worse.

The people of Lindsay don't have too many options, because it's either two hours on the M4 with a toll—we had a toll on the toll road and then it was removed because we'd already paid for the road; now we have the toll back again. Lucky us!—or it's rolling a dice to catch a train home to Western Sydney with a system that is constantly in meltdown. Commuters got a fare increase at the beginning of the year as well, so they're now being slugged even more to catch an unreliable service. But that's what you have to do if you live in Western Sydney: you have to commute. Why are they commuting? Because that's where the jobs are.

In the next 33 years more people will live west of Parramatta than in the east. We have a three per cent higher cost of living and inferior transport options compared to our inner-city cousins. Half a million Western Sydney workers will need to commute outside the region, with an expected 200,000 fewer jobs available to workers by 2026, which is not that far away. But where are the local jobs? Where is the Turnbull government's strategy for local jobs in Western Sydney? Population growth is outstripping jobs growth, and this has been the case for years and years. There is clearly a growing need to create, attract and sustain quality jobs.

We know the projected growth and we have a proposed corridor for transport options, but it's only proposed; there's nothing really happening. It's kind of like: we might get there, we might not, but it's really not a priority. There are plans for a rail line. Maybe it will go north south, maybe it won't go north south and maybe they're still deciding; but, in any case, it will connect to an already overcrowded Western Sydney line. There is no comprehensive plan to deal with people movement in Western Sydney.

We know Western Sydney airport is supposed to be the Holy Grail and aerotropolis that is destined to save us all. We hear about the boards being created, where the bulk of the people on the boards don't come from our area. They see an eastern Sydney sunrise every morning; they don't see a Western Sydney sunrise every morning. They come from the east and they tell us what's good for us. They make the decisions and tell the people of Western Sydney what we're going to get and what we're worthy of.

The 24-hour airport has no comprehensive infrastructure plan or jobs plan for locals, but we keep getting told it's the only thing we're worthy of having, it's good for us and we should just accept it. We hear about tens of thousands of jobs. It was going to create 60,000 jobs; now, based on the statements by the minister, it's going to create 11,000. But where are the jobs for the locals? Where is the jobs guarantee for Western Sydney residents so that they can get out of their cars, get off the M4 and forget about paying that toll, or get out of the stuffy train and stop being crammed in like sardines?

Where are the local jobs for my Western Sydney community? Show us the benefits. Those in the Turnbull government are ripping the guts out of the future for Western Sydney kids and out of Western Sydney University for healthcare, and there is absolutely no strategy for my community and Western Sydney more broadly.

In 2050, the kids who are currently in primary, kids my kids' age, will be in their 40s—a terrifying prospect for me as their mum. What's the future going to be like? We come in here to advocate for our next generation. What is that going to look like for them? Are they going to be taking up a university degree? Will they be able to get a trade? Will they be raising kids of their own? What will my community be like then? What will Lindsay be like in 2050? Will they have a local job to go to? At the current rate of growth and job creation, absolutely not. Will they have a fantastic place to live in Lindsay? If you're recording 47.3 degrees in summer, I'm guaranteeing it's going to be pretty hot and, unless we take some action on climate change, it's going to be even hotter. To support a great future for all of the residents in Lindsay, we need a government that is committed to Western Sydney, not someone who, each election campaign, takes a day trip on a train—with a TV crew no less—to say, 'What a great man I am! I can get on a train and come all the way out to Western Sydney.' That's not action; that's not a plan. That is tokenism, and that's all we've seen from those opposite in this place.

To have a great future in my community, we also need a great hospital that supports not only the current community but also the growth that I talked about before. By 2050, in Western Sydney, we're going to have more people living west of Parramatta than living east of it. So you'd think there may be some future planning happening to futureproof my community or to give us some decent options out there, but, no. The Turnbull and Berejiklian governments need to act now to fix Nepean Hospital. We've seen no serious increase in clinical funding, and it continues to be the most under-pressure hospital in New South Wales. They have promised $550 million but will not give us the $1 billion that we need to help with our projected growth or the current need. Hospitals on the other side of Parramatta got $1 billion each—no fight required, no picket lines, no TV cameras, no petition, no community angst, no stories in the paper week after week of women giving birth on floors or women miscarrying in public toilets and bathrooms. There is no plan for Western Sydney. Instead, they are spending $2.5 billion or more on rebuilding Sydney stadium so that the people who attend soccer matches or the football don't have to line up in a queue for so long to get a pie and a hot dog. I think that the people of Lindsay are not silly. They're not fools, and they should not be treated as such. What an absolute waste of resources this $2.5 billion is—which, we heard over the weekend, is actually going to blow out. Where is the investment for Western Sydney? Why do our people constantly get the raw end of the deal? It's no wonder they feel let down by the Turnbull government.

It's even worse for our school communities, following the Turnbull government's $21 million kick in the guts for the thousands of local schoolchildren who returned to school at the beginning of this month. In Lindsay, public schools will be $21 million a year worse off, thanks to funding cuts by the Turnbull government. Figures released by the Parliamentary Budget Office confirmed that every single public school in my area—the ones that I go to week after week, the ones whose presentation assemblies I attend at the end of the year—is going to be getting a cut. That has to be the worst back-to-school gift this government could give any school. A $21 million funding cut is a slap in the face for every single family who pays their taxes and has a child who is going to school in our area—where, by the way, enrolments are up; for the first time in our history, we have more kids enrolling in a public school than in our local Catholic school system. We know that this impact on our kids will be massive. Test results show that Australian students are slipping behind the rest of the world, and anybody who says that funding doesn't make a difference probably never stood in a classroom with nothing and held a piece of chalk and actually tried to teach kids.

Bill Shorten has said that, in order to get every single school up to its fair funding level, a Labour government that he leads will restore every single dollar that these Liberals have cut. The government claims it's increasing spending on schools, but they're using Tony Abbott's 2014 budget, where he announced a $30 billion cut, as a baseline. So they get in over there and they talk about the 'Mediscare' campaign, but they don't talk about the budget fudging that they're doing. They're reversing some of these measures, but it's still a cut when compared to the original funding arrangement. The PBO figures show that schools in this state are losing $856 million over the next two years alone. That's the equivalent of sacking 8,890 teachers, or three teachers from every single school in New South Wales. Nationally, more than 80 per cent of the cuts fall to public schools.

Last year, I managed to get around nearly every single school in my electorate. Every school was worried about how those cuts would affect its students. You only have to look at one of the local high schools in my electorate that has a 20 per cent Indigenous student population. The biggest investment that they made with their Gonski money was that they were able to get year 9 and 10 boys to start reading. If this government doesn't value that kind of achievement with additional resources and additional funding, I'm not quite sure what will stand out as an achievement for it, because I can tell you now that those boys who have learnt to read in year 9 and year 10 will go on to have much better lives and much better career options and prospects because of that skill.

The Prime Minister and the Liberals are ripping out billions and billions of dollars at the same time as enrolments are going up. More money means more teachers and more individual attention for every single student, but that's not actually what's happening now. Education is a priority for Labor, because we believe getting a great education shouldn't actually be determined by your postcode or your parents' bank account. Certainly when it comes to Western Sydney, we don't want our kids to feel like they're any less than any other students. So the need is the greatest out there.

A great education is the ticket to a lifetime of opportunity. It's a ticket that every single child in this country deserves, regardless of who their parents are, and the schools in my electorate are crying out for resources. They need to bring up their physical building structures. They need to bring up air conditioning into their classrooms. I don't want to see a time when local teachers are putting their hands in their own pockets to buy readers, or when P&Cs are no longer fundraising for things like tech—iPads in classrooms—or we're not fundraising for basic things like being able to send kids on excursions and giving them basic access to things like life education. That's certainly the case for the public school where my kids go.

Given how hot it is out in Western Sydney, we need to think about how we make those classrooms and those spaces much more livable so kids on hot days can actually go and learn something rather than sit and sweat their guts out. There are a number of schools in my electorate—including Kingswood High School, Glenmore Park High School and Kurrambee School—that just don't have any air conditioning, which is a disgrace. It is an absolute disgrace that this is not a priority for the government. Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of this country, should be ashamed that he's scrapped a policy that was making our school system fairer so that kids in Western Sydney had the same access as every other school across New South Wales.

Let's talk about the uni funding cuts, shall we? Western Sydney is amongst the worst funded and worst affected regions hit by the $2.2 billion in uni cuts. The former Labor government uncapped uni places, resulting in huge increases in the number of students going to Western Sydney University. But that growth will come to a standstill, because the Prime Minister has effectively reintroduced a cap on the number of university places, taking us back to the bad old days of John Howard. Enrolments in university under Labor increased by 60 per cent in my electorate of Lindsay. In my community, there was a 60 per cent increase. That's massive, and now we're slamming the door in the faces of all of those kids and removing all of that educational opportunity for the kids out in my area. We opened the door and made uni more accessible for people from low- and middle-income families, and now Malcolm Turnbull is locking them out.

Most of the kids in Western Sydney that end up at university are the first in their family to attend, so making it harder for these kids to go is only entrenching disadvantage further. My university, Western Sydney University, will be the hardest hit, with $98 million worth of funding cuts handed out. Sixty per cent of students at Western Sydney University are the first in their family to attend. That's a phenomenal number. Instead of supporting them, this government wants to lock them out.

We're already facing an uphill battle, with the level of tertiary qualified people sitting well below the averages, and the cuts also mean our university's critical outreach programs, industry partnership programs and government partnership programs are all at risk. These programs are focused on addressing Western Sydney's pronounced educational equity gap. It is just not good enough, and while ever I'm the member for Lindsay I will not come into this place and let this government go by without absolutely shaming it on the disgusting treatment that Western Sydney residents are getting. Those cuts to university are a really cruel blow, because hardworking year 12 graduates may now be denied a place at university. It's even more galling to see this Prime Minister ripping funding away from students to pay for tax cuts for multinationals and millionaires. How does he justify making it easier for big business to pay less tax but harder for people to go to university?

Not only do we have cuts to schools and inadequate investment right across Lindsay; we've also got problems in the VET sector. The latest data shows that Commonwealth funding to the vocational education and training sector has had a $1.6 billion cut. That's a 27.3 per cent reduction according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, and this is on top of state governments cutting around 13 per cent of funding. Instead of investing in local jobs and skills, they cut funding to TAFE and vocational education. Day after day, they are failing to help the youth of this country, and particularly those in Western Sydney.

They are failing to support the families out in my area, with 1,798 families worse off under the new childcare packages that come into effect on 2 July. Those families are part of the just under 280,000 families across Australia who will be worse off. Most of the families who stand to be worse off are families in the lowest income cohort—families who have a combined income of less than $65,000 a year. This government is absolutely out of touch when it takes credit for an increase in fees and introducing a new childcare package which leaves nearly 2,000 families in Lindsay worse off. It's just another kick in the guts for families out in my area who are struggling with flat wages growth and are facing massive hikes in their electricity, education and health bills. The residents of Lindsay need some more action. They need a government that actually cares about what happens to them, that is invested in them and that knows what they need to survive and thrive.