Transport and Infrastructure

The heyday of infrastructure in this country has dropped into one big dark pothole, thanks to this infrastructure minister. I want to thank my friend the honourable member for Riverina for highlighting the failures of this minister in her portfolio, not only the failures but the mishandling of transport and infrastructure. I have to say that Western Sydney is at the heartland of so many disastrous calls by the minister. Firstly, the government's sneaky announcement and lack of consultation about the preliminary flight paths for Western Sydney International Airport; secondly, the minister's 90-day infrastructure review, which could put at risk $5.7 billion of investment through the Penrith community alone; and, lastly, the $200 million stalling of funds for transport in Western Sydney, which was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago. As the minister—as the member, who should be the minister, for Riverina just said, that is just not good enough.

After a short briefing with department officials, the minister, at midnight—when my community were sleeping— released the flight paths to the media, without giving MPs, community members or even the media a chance to ask questions of the minister. The minister for transport and infrastructure did this in an attempt to avert scrutiny and ensure her lines were the only lines in the media that morning. But I did a media interview that day and called on my friend the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Senator Bridget McKenzie, to force the minister into better consultation. It wasn't the minister that came to my electorate to make this huge announcement that would see airplanes going over High Street of Penrith; it was the shadow minister that joined me on that day. But the minister then came to the table. She did a press conference, not from Penrith in Western Sydney, New South Wales, but from her Ballarat electorate office. She didn't want to be on the ground talking to locals about the release of the preliminary flight paths of Western Sydney International Airport. These flight paths are drastically different to those provided in the initial environmental impact statements in 2015 and 2016. So we have been literally blindsided by these announcements. My community of Lindsay is now the most impacted of all the flight paths, and we'd like to know why. At first glance, not a single community engagement and feedback session was even to be held in the Lindsay electorate. So I asked the department about this. Soon enough, the government backflipped, and there was one session held at Penrith Panthers, followed by another in St Marys.

Further, the Labor government is putting at risk not only the quiet surrounds of the Penrith community but billions of dollars of projects in and around Lindsay with its strategic review. The review is an attempt to stall funding for much needed projects that the coalition started and Labor don't want to fund, despite committing to many in the October budget last year. Some of the projects in my electorate which could be cut include: the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport; stage 2 of Mulgoa Road, another Mulgoa Road upgrade; the Sydney Metro Western Sydney Airport stage 2 business case; commuter car parks in St Marys and Kingswood, on which council already started work and had spent $60 million combined; Western Sydney road transport network development planning; four Coreen Avenue upgrades; $5 million for the Western Sydney Freight line; and Werrington Arterial stage 2 planning—really significant projects in a growing Western Sydney, where we're going to have an international airport. These are critical projects for my community and our connectedness to the rest of the country.

It's not only this. Through the media we've learnt that another federal government report which looked into Western Sydney's transport infrastructure was given to the government in April but is yet to be released. It is claimed to detail that $200 million of infrastructure investment was needed in the May budget but the money has not been confirmed to get on with a number of projects. This is not good enough. It's not just one issue; it's multiple issues. It is not being straight with my community about the Western Sydney International Airport flight paths and the impact. It is around the prospect of cutting multiple infrastructure projects for my community, big infrastructure projects that the coalition government invested in because we care about Western Sydney. Now, the government's not being straight with my community about further infrastructure projects. My community deserves better from this Albanese Labor government.

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