Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.18 p.m.]: I am delighted to confirm the sale of 34 hectacres of surplus Sydney Water land in Westleigh which will be turned into new sporting facilities for my community. The land, known as the Water Board site, was a former night soil dump that was closed in 1964.
The site has been largely unused since the closure of the nightsoil dump; however, in recent times there have been a number of proposals regarding potential usage of the land.
In 2013, the land was earmarked by the Government to be used as a storage compound for works being undertaken by the Epping to Thornleigh third track. The proposal would have been disastrous for the Westleigh community, with up to 60 trucks a day running through suburban streets. It would have ruined the unique character and amenity of this beautiful suburb and made the area unsafe for residents. I was proud to stand with residents to fight this proposal and find an alternative solution. We were able to stop the area being used as an industrial waste compound, protect the area and ensure that residents were not inconvenienced by the up to 60 truck movements a day. To this day it remains one of my proudest achievements as the member for Hornsby.
Without doubt, another proud achievement was finalising the deal between Sydney Water and Hornsby council to ensure that this can never again happen to this site. The deal will ensure that the site will not be overdeveloped but will be used as sporting fields that future generations will be able to enjoy. People in our community will be able to participate in passive and active recreation on that site forever. That is exciting and special and I am proud to be part of delivering that plan.
Residents had to fight to stop this site being used for something totally incompatible with the quiet, beautiful suburb of Westleigh. Residents fought hard and I thank all those who stood with me to make sure that we protected the unique character and amenity of Westleigh. I am talking about people like Janda Tanner, Paul Taylor, Phil and Therese Downey, Noreen Panos, Joe Maisano, Lisa Walsh, Peter Backe-Hansen and Angus Harris. They all worked hard with me to stop this development happening. I also wish to mention Trevor Long, who grew up in the area and who has a unique commitment to our community. I thank Trevor for continuing to work with me to preserve our area. I should also note the work of the Westleigh Progress Association. Rex Taylor has been an outstanding president and he, like so many other residents in Westleigh, is passionate about the area and has fought to preserve what we have there.
The future of this site is very exciting for the Westleigh and surrounding communities. It is very rare that a land parcel of this size becomes available for public use. It was critical that we seized the opportunity to utilize this open space before it was lost forever. There was a proposal to develop it, with an additional 116 dwellings on the site. That would have had a huge impact on the small community. I thank Hornsby council Mayor Steve Russell, who assisted me in putting our alternative vision forward to Sydney Water for the release of the land for public open space. Steve is an outstanding local government representative and an outstanding mayor.
The deal that was struck is an example of what can be achieved when State and local governments work together to deliver better outcomes for the community. Hornsby council has drastically improved its financial position since Mayor Russell was given the top job in 2012. Mayor Russell was given a budget deficit of $4.32 million, which he was able to turn into a $17.1 million surplus within three years thanks to his astute financial management. The council's financial turnaround has been so impressive that Hornsby council is now ranked third of 152 New South Wales councils for its financial position. Mayor Russell's budget surplus also meant that the council was able to write a cheque for $21 million to Sydney Water on the spot. That happened in my office. That could not have happened if the mayor had not put the council in such a strong financial position.
The potential of this site is truly exciting. Here we have a vast expanse of land in the middle of metropolitan suburbia. With the council's help we can transform this into a great community asset for everyone to enjoy. It is well known that the Hornsby shire is always short of the number of sporting fields needed to cater for our growing community. A site of this scale could allow multiple sporting fields to be constructed and provide a permanent home to a number of sporting groups such as football, cricket, rugby league, netball and baseball organisations. I also thank community sporting representatives such as Grahame Bateman, from Pennant Hills Football Club, who has been a great local advocate for the need to find new sporting fields and to increase junior sport participation numbers. Grahame has been a supportive friend of mine at every step of the process of identifying new sporting field opportunities such as those at Westleigh. I look forward to working with Grahame at the Pennant Hills Football Club, and with the Thornleigh soccer club to ensure that we get a great outcome on this site.
Thank you to all involved for delivering a great result. I mention Catherine Rolston, Gwendy, and Bruce Morgan from Sydney Water, who helped make this possible. They are outstanding public servants and represent what is best in our public service.
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