LABOR'S ON A ROAD TO RUIN IN SYDNEY'S WEST

Published in The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2024

There is a four kilometre stretch of road in the electorate of Lindsay called Dunheved Road, which connects five suburbs to employment and manufacturing hubs in Penrith and St Marys. It is a council road that is desperately in need of upgrading, like many across the region – unsafe, congested, and pothole infested. In my first term, with the support of my community, I secured the full funding from the Coalition Government to get this road upgraded.

This sounds pretty normal for a local MP doing their job. However, there is more to this story.  Since then, Dunheved Road has become a political toy for Labor, and symbol of the hoodwinking that the Albanese Labor Government is trying to do with the people of Western Sydney.

At the 2022 election, the Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, promised the people of my community, that in return for their votes, if Labor got into government, they would fast track the construction of Dunheved Road.

What has happened since the 2022 election? The Dunheved Road project is now two years behind schedule, and is purely in Council’s hands to project manage. The Albanese Labor Government had no intention of fast tracking anything. It was a political game for them. Labor won the federal election, but thankfully not the seat of Lindsay, and would like everyone to forget their broken promise.

Which is what they are doing again with the people of Western Sydney in the lead up to the next election. In his recent oped in this publication, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “Labor is investing in Western Sydney because we back Western Sydney.”

Since when does backing Western Sydney mean promising to fast track a project that is now anything but fast tracked?

When does backing Western Sydney mean ripping $2 billion of funding away from essential infrastructure, only to return some of it - not all of it - after community and media pressure? And then sell it as new funding, even though it isn’t.

This isn’t just about infrastructure, the Albanese Labor Government has also turned its back on local heavy industry Aussie manufacturing that relies on gas.

If the Prime Minister wants a future made in Sydney’s west, like he has stated, then he needs to ensure that manufacturers can draw on affordable energy. I think I have been on the factory floor of these Western Sydney manufacturers more times than the Prime Minister, and they are worried like never before.

For some, they can’t put solar panels on their rooves because the shed structures just don’t support them. For others, they could have all the solar panels in the world, but they can’t produce steel, aluminium, or plastic products with renewable energy. They need reliable 24/7 baseload power, they need gas, and our country needs steel products made in Western Sydney. Steel manufacturing should be engrained in the fabric of our sovereign manufacturing capability – what would we do without it if Australia was at war, or if global supply chains were cut off?

We can’t continue to make steel, plastic, or aluminium products if manufacturers can’t pay their energy bills, which have more than doubled for some under this government. There will be no future made in Sydney’s west if heavy industry factories close.

From Made in Australia, to the national housing crisis, it was intriguing the Prime Minister talks about his housing affordability policies being of benefit to the people of Western Sydney, when at the same time his immigration policies are going to see 1.67 million people come into this country over five years.  

Prime Minister, where are these people going to live in Western Sydney? How is our infrastructure going to support this increased population, when you have ripped funding away from major road projects? We are still missing over $117 million from your government for the Mulgoa Road Stage 2 project that you didn’t put back into your repackaged budget announcement, that your government pretended was new funding.

I haven’t even begun to talk about the strain on our GPs and hospitals that already exists, let alone with the predicted population growth. The Coalition’s policy announced by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, will see an investment of $400 million to incentivise junior doctors to train as GPs. That policy couldn’t come early enough in Western Sydney where bulkbilling helps with the cost of seeing a doctor.

From infrastructure, to housing, and health, the people of Western Sydney deserve better, and on behalf of them, I’ll certainly keep fighting until we have the best.  

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