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Matt Speaks on Sydney Metro

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.29 p.m.]: My motion deserves to be accorded priority because this is a Government that thinks public transport is a priority, unlike those opposite. There could not be a greater priority than the metro link, because this will increase the capacity of our rail network by up to 60 per cent. It will mean that we can move an additional 100,000 people an hour during peak travel times. It will also mean that you can dispense with your timetable, Mr Deputy-Speaker; you can just turn up and ride, which I know you love to do. As the Prime Minister would say, there has never been a better time to live in New South Wales.

Who would not be excited about the new metro link? I know the member for Epping, whose constituents will benefit from the new metro link, is excited. I know the members representing the electorates of for Ku-ring-gai, Riverstone, Hawkesbury, Castle Hill, North Shore and Willoughby are all very excited about the new metro link. But wait—it is not just members on this side of the Chamber who are excited about the new metro link. There are members on the other side who are very excited. The member for Bankstown is going to be a big beneficiary—she is so excited she is not even here. The members representing the electorates of Canterbury, Summer Hill and Lakemba are very excited that their communities will benefit from the new metro link. But they are not just excited because of the benefits a metro link will bring to their communities; they are excited because there is a government that will actually build a railway when it says it will.

When Labor was in government it made more promises to build rail links than I have had hot breakfasts. I remind members of the Bondi Beach rail link promised in 1998 to be delivered in 2002, the high-speed rail link to Newcastle and the Central Coast promised in 1998 to be delivered in 2010 and the Hurstville-Strathfield rail link that was promised in 1998 in the Action for Transport plan—what happened to that one? I can imagine the shadow Treasurer as the deputy director-general being promoted from the department liaison officer straight into that role.

There was the Parramatta-Chatswood rail link—well, Labor got half of that right. It delivered half a rail link at double the cost. The north-west heavy rail link was promised in 1998. The South West Rail Link was promised in 2005 before it was scrapped in 2010. There was the north-west metro, central business district rail, Rozelle metro, west metro and the west express metro. So why would those opposite not be excited that there is a government actually delivering on the things it says it is going to do—delivering for the community, which Labor failed to do when it was in government? This Government will get on with the job of building public transport and delivering for the people of New South Wales.

Public Transport Affordability

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) [3.32 p.m.]: My motion should be accorded priority in recognition of all in our local community who rely on public transport to get to work, to see the doctor, to do their shopping or just to get around. Public transport is a vital necessity. One of the most important aspects of an effective public transport system is affordability. How is it affordable when hardworking people in our local community are slugged with a 48 per cent increase, or about $960? Well, it is not. To those on the Government benches $960 might not mean a lot, but it is a massive increase for people in my electorate, and no doubt every other electorate across the Sydney metropolitan area. Those opposite might want to stick up for the people in their local community instead of obfuscating and hiding behind spin and a publicly funded marketing exercise. Anything less than support for this motion will mean that members opposite are putting the people in their communities last. A 48 per cent increase is not affordable, it is not fair and it shows a lack of understanding of the budgets of hardworking people.

Mr Adrian Piccoli: Ask me about Hurlstone.

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: You will get your turn, Minister. We are trying to encourage more people to use public transport but what is the Government's genius solution? It is a 48 per cent increase in cost, a massive increase that will get more people on the roads and stuck in traffic and cost our economy even more. "Let's increase the prices by up to $960; then we can expect more people to use public transport." I am not sure what economic philosophy this plan is from. However, this skyrocketing price increase will have an even more immediate impact on people's pay packets, especially considering the hours they work to earn at times quite moderate wages. Let us consider some facts—something that this Liberal Government is good at hiding and great at stretching and using selectively. The Reserve Bank of Australia's 2015 publication on wages growth states:

Wage growth has declined markedly in Australia over the past few years. … The size of the decline in wage growth has been larger than simple historical relationships.

The rate of wage growth is barely 2 per cent. Inflation is at 2 per cent. That is in fact a zero real wage increase. But what is the Government's solution? It is a 48 per cent increase in the cost of using public transport. That is a multiple of greater than 20. This also shows a lack of understanding, a lack of care and a lack of compassion for those who work so hard. The Government can spin it whichever way it wants; it can use figures for six weeks or six months. All I know is that a 48 per cent cost increase is not fair with a zero per cent wage increase.

Question—That the motion of the member for Hornsby be accorded priority—put.

The House divided.

Ayes, 49

Noes, 36

Question resolved in the affirmative.

To view the full Hansard transcript click here.


Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.43 p.m.]: I move:

That this House:

(1) Notes the Government is getting on with Australia's largest public transport project in the Sydney Metro.

(2) Notes the Sydney Metro will deliver turn up and go services and move an extra 100,000 people every hour during the peak.

(3) Welcomes the benefits it will deliver to customers in the north-west and south-west of Sydney.

I am glad that the House has recognised that public transport is a priority. Communities in Galston, Dural and the Hills district have missed out on viable public transport for too long because the former Labor Government did not think that public transport was a priority. Those opposite promised viable public transport to north-west Sydney in 1998. They made a promise that the north-west heavy rail link would be delivered prior to 2010. I was still at school when they were making those promises.

Mr Mark Coure: Gareth was in nappies.

Mr MATT KEAN: Gareth was still in nappies but that is beside the point. The program being rolled out by the Government will transform this city. It will improve the lives of citizens across the State. People will be able to rely on public transport rather than on their cars. There is no better example than the people who live in the north-west. The rail link will increase capacity on our network by up to 60 per cent. It also means we can move an additional 100,000 people every hour during peak periods. The first tunnel boring machine will be in the ground before the end of 2018, but it is not soon enough. The 30-kilometre metro line will connect to the Sydney Metro Northwest at Chatswood, run under Sydney Harbour, through the central business district [CBD] and south-west to Bankstown. The line should be operating by 2024. It means there will be a train in the CBD every two minutes. There will be seven new metro stations, at Barangaroo, Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place, Victoria Cross—that is North Sydney for those in the southern suburbs—Crows Nest and Waterloo. Eleven existing stations on the Bankstown line will be upgraded.

A dedicated line will operate independently of the existing rail network, which will not contribute to wider delays. There will be seamless interchanges with trains, buses and light rail. In mid-2016 the community will have an opportunity to provide feedback as part of the environmental planning and assessment program. The community will provide positive feedback because they have been waiting for this metro line for too long. Trains on the northern line are already at capacity. Everyone who uses public transport will benefit. Even people who drive to work will benefit because it will move people off the roads. It is a fantastic win. Sydney Metro will increase the capacity of train services from 120 per hour today to up to 200 services beyond 2024, resulting in an increase of up to 60 per cent in capacity across the network. This Government will continue to analyse where the demand is and where upgrades are needed most.

There is also the possibility of extensions. We have commenced investigations into extensions to Liverpool, which will reduce travel time to the CBD by 15 minutes. Further investigations will be made and public consultation will be undertaken in 2016. The member for Bankstown should be a big fan of the metro line because her constituents will benefit. She should also be a fan of the metro line because it will be the first time she will see a government deliver a promised train line. As the member for Bankstown well knows, the Labor Government promised rail lines as if they were going out of fashion but it failed to build 20 of its promised rail lines. The shadow Minister for Transport was a member of Cabinet that shelved half of those rail lines.

The member for Bankstown should be excited, but those opposite hate good news. They are not used to good news and they hate it when they hear it. Good news for the people of New South Wales is bad news for those opposite. As the Prime Minister likes to say, there has never been a better time to be a New South Wales resident. The Baird Liberal Government is in charge—building transport and infrastructure across the State, getting the budget under control and delivering for the people of New South Wales. The member for Campbelltown is excited about it. Everyone is excited. The new metro link is a great initiative for people in Sydney and it will deliver better public transport for everyone to enjoy.

Ms JODI McKAY (Strathfield) [3.48 p.m.]: I say to the member for Hornsby that I am excited. I am excited because I am now the shadow Minister for Transport and it is the first time I can talk about transport and roads in this place in that capacity. I am able to look into an integrated way of moving people around this city. How could I not be excited about that? I am excited about my first opportunity to debate the member for Hornsby. The motion before the House is important; we must look at roads and transport from an integrated perspective. We want to ease congestion and see people move efficiently around the city. Our biggest concern, which I have raised time and again regarding my shadow portfolio, is the way the projects are being delivered. We are seeing not only cost blowouts across the spectrum of the infrastructure delivery project, but also a lack of transparency and secrecy. There is a bill before the House that is aimed at removing the secrecy around the Government's private sector Sydney Motorway Corporation.

That concerns me because a project the size of the Sydney Metro is comparable, in terms of delivery, with the WestConnex project. I know about that because it is in my electorate and because, as shadow Minister for roads, I am continually going on about how poorly that project is being delivered. As I mentioned, I am concerned about the cost blowout. We have already seen a $500 million cost blowout with the George Street light rail. The WestConnex project was $10 billion and then went to $11 billion, $12 million and $15 billion, and now it is at $16.8 billion. I am really looking forward to the upcoming budget to see what that project will end up costing, because we know that that price does not include the cost of property acquisitions or the link to the airport.

As I said, we have seen, time and again, a very poor delivery record from this Government. Nowhere is that more obvious than in WestConnex. There was a tunnel that was to travel under Parramatta Road; it is now travelling under about 500 houses. There are two unfiltered stacks. Most importantly, the imposition of tolls is causing great anxiety, particularly in the electorate of Oatley. There will be a toll on the duplication of the M5 and on the duplicated tunnel. There will also be a toll on the M4, which is currently free. These small things that are happening with WestConnex reveal a pattern of behaviour by this Government that will be reflected in the way that it is going to deliver the metro. I have approached the Minister for Transport and he has agreed to brief me on this project so I can find out exactly what the Government has planned. I am keen to learn how the Government is going to pay for it, because we have not been told how the Government is going to pay for this massive project.

I know that the Government is going to pay for WestConnex by putting tolls on the road. The Government is going to charge people in Western Sydney an extra $2,000 a year to travel from Parramatta to the central business district and back again. I know what that toll is: It will cost $4.21. When the Hon. Duncan Gay was asked what the toll was he said, "I think it might be $4.85. Maybe it is $4.20." His adviser had to step in and say, "No, sorry, it is $4.21." The Hon. Duncan Gay said that there were 18 gantries. No, there are 14 gantries—he got that wrong as well. The Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight could not say how many cars travelled on the M4. This Minister, who is delivering the most significant infrastructure project in New South Wales, has no idea of the number of cars on the M4. We all remember the Minister's embarrassing appearance on Channel 7, when he could not say how many cars were on the M5 or the M4. He has not learned from that.

Mr Gareth Ward: You tell us. What is the answer? Do you know?

Ms JODI McKAY: It is 166,000. We have concerns about the way this Government is delivering projects like the metro and we certainly look forward to seeing how this project rolls out. And I look forward to my briefing on this project.

Ms MELANIE GIBBONS (Holsworthy) [3.53 p.m.]: It is with great pleasure that I speak in support of the motion of the member for Hornsby. For far too many years under the Labor Government, transport and infrastructure were not seen as priorities, especially in south-west Sydney. I am glad to be part of a government that recognises that it is a priority and is continually delivering on these types of initiatives. The Sydney Metro is an important and vital piece of transport infrastructure that will benefit customers by moving 100,000 people every hour during the peak periods between the north-west and south-west of Sydney.

This new transport system will allow for seamless interchanges with Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink trains, buses and light rail, and will be on an independent and dedicated line, which means it will not be subject to wider network delays. We are a global city and through this Government's dedication to improving the transport system for our customers, we will now have a metro network that is comparable to other great global cities' networks. This system will provide for a train operating every two minutes within the CBD. As the member for Hornsby said, it will also allow for seven new metro stations to be constructed, at Barangaroo, Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place, Victoria Cross in North Sydney, Crows Nest and Waterloo.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Bankstown has already been called to order twice. I now call her to order for the third time.

Ms MELANIE GIBBONS: I am surprised the member for Bankstown is leaving the Chamber, because her electorate is one of the major beneficiaries of this infrastructure. Her constituents will be so happy that this is going ahead. It will get them to the city much more quickly.

Ms Tania Mihailuk: My constituents will not be able to afford the tickets.

Ms MELANIE GIBBONS: The member's constituents will be able to get to their jobs and get home and spend more time with their families. Just last week, the Minister for Transport announced that the New South Wales Government would investigate improving transport connections between Bankstown and Liverpool, through a possible extension of the new Sydney Metro. This potential extension would support growth in Sydney's south-west by connecting suburbs, businesses, jobs and services as well as improving access between the south-west and Sydney's CBD.

It would reduce growth pressure on road infrastructure and the existing rail network, including the potential to relieve crowding on the T1 western line, T2 south line and T2 airport line. The residents in my electorate are thrilled about the prospect of the Sydney Metro being extended between Bankstown and Liverpool—especially those who utilise Holsworthy station. Holsworthy station is currently in the process of receiving 400 additional car spaces, which will help assist with parking issues. They will ease the pressure even more and get people home to their families more quickly.

Mr GREG WARREN (Campbelltown) [3.56 p.m.]: "Excited" seems to be the word of the day but, to be frank, I am about as excited as a pensioner trying to top up his Opal card—which is not very excited at all—about the proposal by this Government. Commuters will have to bear a 48 per cent fare increase. As my friend and colleague from Macquarie Fields pointed out, this Government has an issue when members on this side of the Chamber try to add some facts to the story. They do not like it. The big question is: How is this going to be funded?

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Hornsby can make a further contribution in reply.

Mr GREG WARREN: Without a doubt, we all welcome upgrades to services and infrastructure in the areas where they are required. But this Government moves motions to congratulate itself and sing its own praises. There is no praise like self-praise, and that is what we hear from those opposite. We do not hear a lot of answers about funding infrastructure in areas that really need it. We hear the spin—we have heard it before—but, again, nothing is said about funding. A lot has been said about the Sydney Metro Northwest and the Sydney Metro City and Southwest. I thank the Government for following through with the Sydney Metro City and Southwest, which was a good Labor plan. It was a plan started by a Labor government and finished by those opposite.

The Government does get some things right. It gets things right when it follows through with good Labor plans. The reality is that only Labor has set down the provisions for infrastructure to meet the needs of all our local communities, but the Government is not really serious because there are still commuters in my electorate of Campbelltown waiting for a 450-space carpark. There have been all the promises in the world but no funding has been allocated. There have just been self-promoting photo opportunity moments for members opposite to continue to promote themselves. I will look at some of the facts and figures, particularly some of the blowouts.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I call the member for Kiama to order for the first time.

Mr GREG WARREN: I will talk about the capacity of the Government to manage infrastructure in instalments. The cost for the CBD and South East Light Rail blew out from $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion. The inner-city train fleet renewal blew out by $1.1 billion. I suggest that those opposite go back to the drawing board and start being fair dinkum. It will be great when they have a plan, and we will support it. The Government needs to put some dollar figures on its plans. All we are seeing from this Government is the follow-through on good Labor plans. I thank members opposite for that, but the reality is that no funds have been allocated. All we have seen are blowouts and waste by an incompetent government.

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.59 p.m.], in reply: The metro link will deliver great benefits to people right across this State. This Government is actually committed to public transport.

Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.

Pursuant to sessional order Government business proceeded with.

To view the full Hansard transcript click here.