Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (11:22): I want to lay down an infrastructure challenge. When we think about the next major road project that should be rolled out in Western Sydney, the next big thing is the M9. It sits just west of the M7. It will connect the 150,000 or so expected residents of the North-West Growth Centre with the M7 or the Hume Highway. That runs through the member for Hume’s electorate as well. These projects are not just a boon for motorists in terms of making their travel times easier, but also they open up regional economies. The M7 in my area has opened up chances for us to redevelop industrial land and to create a massive job surge.
If it is built, my challenge is to build it without a toll. Run the road without a toll. The member for Greenway and I represent constituents who may spend up to $40 a day if they work in the city. No other capital city wears that type of impost—none. But Western Sydney residents do. They pay a lot to be stuck in traffic for an extended period of time. For example, you will be caught in that level of traffic with the link between the M7 and the M2. Build it without the toll and make it run freely. Even build it with a rail link running right down the centre of the non-toll road or motorway so that you can have public transport options built in as well.
But I bet it will not happen. Why will it not happen? It will not happen because we are told the money is not there, because it is not right to subsidise people in that way and because it is better to send a price signal in using the road. When I think of those arguments that are racked up against building a toll free motorway in Western Sydney, I instantly turn to the argument about building an instantaneous rail link to Badgerys Creek airport and the arguments that have been used that this should be built now and that no doubt we would probably need to cross-subsidise it—because nobody is going to use this thing until it is fully operational in 2065 anyway. But we are being told we have to expend this amount of money right now on this project.
The reason that I raise this is because it highlights of the hypocrisy of those who are advocating the massive expense of scarce public funds on a project like this, telling us how great a 24/7 airport is when they have been spending the bulk of their political lives arguing against an airport as well. I am not looking at you, member for Hume, at all; I am talking about other people in this place who have argued for ages against an airport in their backyard who tell us that this is the best thing that will happen to Western Sydney since God knows what. It is an hypocrisy.
What also gets me going is that this was a project conceived deceptively and which is now being rolled out deceptively. I am glad that the member for Greenway is here, because in early November she and I wrote jointly to the Deputy Prime Minister saying, ‘Why is it that the place that we represent’—Blacktown council sits within both our federal electorates—’is the biggest council area in New South Wales, yet how many community consultation sessions have been set up for this? One.’ It is one. It is being held on a weekday during working hours, all designed to minimise the amount of time people have to object to an airport that will send 50 flights an hour, 24 hours a day, over major populated areas in Western Sydney. It is scandalous.
Those opposite know that this is starting to become an issue—particularly the curfew issue. We had 800 residents in the Blue Mountains turn out, opposed to the way the flight paths have been designed. We have had Penrith City Council residents complaining about the lack of a curfew. We had Parramatta council, that advocated for this airport, now saying that if there is no curfew on the Western Sydney airport then there should be no curfew on Sydney airport. I think this is the reality for all our projects: the quarter of a billion dollars ripped out of schools in my area because of their failure to fund Gonski and the fact that health funding has been lowered—I have had cardiac wards shut at Mt Druitt hospital and they refused to fund the MRI going into that hospital. When I think of the dilapidated public transport infrastructure in our area and the failure even to have lifts in railway stations or parking stations to encourage greater use of public transport, it is a scandal. When the West needs stuff it does not get it. When the East want to send it our way then they find the money to do so.