Speech to Parliament: Westconnex

I speak in opposition to this motion. Labor is not opposed to the WestConnex project but we are opposed to short-term planning and political fixes, which this project and this motion appear to be.

Deputy Speaker, if you drove to Sydney Airport this morning, the one thing that you could guarantee after 5.30 am is a traffic jam. On every business day, after 5.30 am in my electorate, at Kingsford Smith Airport you are guaranteed a traffic jam.

Less than a kilometre away from our nation's largest and busiest airport is our nation's largest and busiest port, Port Botany.

The port is currently being expanded to cater for additional shipping that will see more and more trucks on the roads around Sydney Airport and the streets of Kingsford Smith.

At the moment, around Mascot train station there are 10- to 15-storey residential apartments being built, which will see additional residents move into the airport precinct and, of course, additional cars on our roads. This is putting massive pressure on the roads in my electorate of Kingsford Smith.

As I said, Labor is not opposed to the WestConnex project, but we are opposed to elements of it in its current form. In its current form, WestConnex will simply make the situation worse around pinch points in the Sydney traffic network—in particular, around Sydney Airport and Port Botany.

The current proposal for WestConnex proposes exits at Canal road, at Qantas Drive and at General Holmes Drive. That will see thousands of additional vehicles come onto the roads around Sydney Airport.

The people who use WestConnex from the western suburbs to come to the airport will end up on ordinary two-lane roads around the airport and the port. There is no plan as part of the WestConnex project to upgrade those important roads that feed on to the WestConnex around Sydney Airport and the port.

Importantly—and the great shame about this proposal and this motion—there is no link from the WestConnex to Port Botany.

There is no link at all from Foreshore Road, which goes directly onto Port Botany—the existing port and the new one—and the WestConnex project.

It is one of the biggest and most important road infrastructure and planning projects in the state's history, and yet there is no link at all to the port which carries the freight that travels west on our roads.

It is our nation's largest port and there is no link between WestConnex and the port, which is literally 800 metres away. It is not as if it would take a massive expansion of WestConnex to link it into the port. It is a great symbol of poor planning. And that is why we have a problem with this motion that is before the House today. Element (3) of the motion states:

(3) the 33 kilometre motorway linking Sydney's west and south-west with the CBD, Sydney Airport and Port Botany, will return some $20 billion to the NSW economy …

It does not link to Port Botany. That is the problem with the motion. The 33-kilometre motorway does not link to Port Botany. It does not link to our nation's biggest port, which sees the largest amount of freight on our roads in Sydney. In that respect, this motion is deceptive, and it is pure politics over substance.

That will see additional freight and traffic from our port. Additional traffic from the WestConnex at the airport will be deposited on the roads around Kingsford Smith; in particular, General Holmes Drive, which is the major thoroughfare that takes people from the shire—from Cronulla, Sylvania and those places—into the city, into the CBD.

It is the major road, and it is getting busier and busier. Now we are going to deposit all that additional traffic from the WestConnex and the port and the airport, with no link to this road project. That is the concern that Labor has with this project and this motion.

And it is not simply Labor that is opposed to this and has these concerns. Indeed, the Australian Logistics Council, the body responsible as the voice of the transport industry in this country, has similar concerns. Michael Kilgariff, the managing director of the ALC, called for the economic benefits of the WestConnex to be maximised because, in his view, in the current proposal they are not being maximised. He said:

I appreciate that there are some significant logistical issues having the motorway run via the Port, not to mention the cost … but ideally, the ALC would have liked to have seen the motorway run further into the port area.

There you have it. That is the view of the Australian Logistics Council—those that are involved on a day-to-day basis in transport.

I said at the beginning that Labor is not opposed to the WestConnex project—indeed, Labor allocated $1.8 billion towards WestConnex in the 2013-14 budget. But we made that on certain conditions, and those conditions are that the final proposal must provide direct links to get people to the city and the freight to the port.

That is an important element of any proposal. Secondly, there should be no new tolls on old roads. This proposal will toll people from the western suburbs of Sydney for using existing roads, most notably the M4. And there needs to be a finalisation of a detailed business case for assessment by Infrastructure Australia, something that is sadly lacking in this proposal and this motion that comes before the parliament.

There is nothing in this project about integration. The current proposal does not integrate with the port. That is a far cry from Labor's approach to important projects such as this when we were in government. That approach is in evidence in Labor's investment in roads and urban transport projects throughout the country. Labor doubled the road budget during our period in office. We increased it to $46.5 billion. We upgraded 7½ thousand kilometres of roads throughout the country.

The Abbott government's approach is a refusal to accept integration, a refusal to back urban transport projects, and that is the great shame about this proposal and this investment. Labor, particularly in New South Wales in terms of federal infrastructure spending, more than doubled the amount that has been invested in infrastructure projects in Australia—the largest amount in our nation's history. In financial year 2013-14, Labor injected $1.7 billion into infrastructure projects in New South Wales.

Let us look at Labor's record in government on infrastructure in New South Wales. We committed $5.5 billion to road and rail transport projects servicing Sydney over six years.

They include $840 million for the northern Sydney freight line upgrade; $800 million for the Moorebank intermodal terminal, an important project that will take some of that freight off the roads around my electorate and put it on rail out to Moorebank intermodal from the port, to be transported via truck; $980 million for the southern Sydney freight line; $405 million for the F3 to M2 missing link; $300 million to upgrade the Greater Western Highway; $172 million for Port Botany rail improvements; $98 million to widen the F5 at Campbelltown; $75 million for the upgrade of Port Botany rail line; $40 million for the Port Botany upgrade program; and $1.8 billion to deliver the M4 and M5 extensions, in partnership with the New South Wales government.

That is the way that you invest in transport infrastructure, with integrated proposals, and that is why this motion must be opposed.


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