LIBERALS NEGLECT ILLAWARRA INFRASTRUCTURE

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (18:05): I have to say, it may or may not have been the member for Lindsay's intention, but her speech perfectly encapsulates why this side of the House has put this motion forward. It's because my colleagues in south-western Sydney, like those of us in the Illawarra, would like to see a fraction of the investment that the member for Lindsay's just spoken about. What's even more of a failure for this government in this space is that the areas of south-west Sydney and the Illawarra are actually going to be (a) massively impacted by the development at the Western Sydney Airport and the aerotropolis, and (b) capable of providing many of the strategic solutions to some of the problems that will be generated by such a major piece of infrastructure. For example, members have talked about some of the road and rail links in south-western Sydney. In my seat, we have a major port. Those opposite seem to have forgotten that they're going to have to have access for goods and products, not just people, in and out of a major development of the Western Sydney Airport. And if they think they're going to be able to access the inner-Sydney port consistently over that time frame, they're kidding themselves. There is a major port, the Port of Kembla, ready, willing and able to take on some of that task. There's no consideration being given by this government to our regions and the way in which we can be part of that story.

To get a bit of a picture and to do a bit of an audit on where these things are at, I put a question on notice to the Deputy Prime Minister on 30 July. I wanted some information on how much governments have actually spent on infrastructure funding in my region of the Illawarra. As would be appreciated, it's particularly relevant to the issues of this motion. The advice I received back was that the Illawarra has received $233,487,391 since the year 2000 for 18 projects. There has been $235,336,062 in rail, of which $25,851,127 was actually in the electorate of the Illawarra. That's $235 million in rail, with $25 million actually in my electorate. Of that $25 million, $17 million, nearly $18 million, was actually federal Labor government investment, not Liberal government investment.

Let's look at Picton and Appin roads. My colleagues work regularly with me on both these roads because they're so strategically important. How much was spent on Picton Road? Just over $48 million. All of these projects, except one, were federal Labor government investments—that is, nearly $46 million of that $48 million was federal Labor government investment in that road.

Appin Road has $50 million invested in it, as announced at the 2016 election the day after Labor announced it was going to invest $50 million. So we got $50 million, but it was only because of the prodding in an election campaign that embarrassed the government into taking up that action and that commitment. Overall, since 2000—that's 13 years of federal Liberal governments and seven years of federal Labor governments—of the $233.5 million the Deputy Prime Minister identified in spending on the Maldon-Dombarton rail line, Picton Road and Appin Road, $173.2 million, or 15 of the 18 projects, were budgeted commitments under federal Labor governments.

I have to say that this is an absolute embarrassment and a disgrace for this government and, indeed, for all governments since the first Abbott budget in 2014. My colleagues and I, such as the member for Whitlam, the member for Macarthur, the member for Werriwa, along with peak bodies, including radical organisations like the Illawarra Business Chamber and the Property Council, have been saying to this government, 'As you develop the Western Sydney Airport you need to look at connections to Port Kembla and the movement of people.'

We've got a highly skilled, trades based workforce in the Illawarra and a high-quality university with major expertise in infrastructure and transport matters. You need to be looking at how this is part of the solution to the congestion issues that you talk about.' The member for Reid's contribution, as always I hear from the other side, boasting about what money they've got spent in their area, just shows exactly why my colleagues and I have put this motion forward. This government is playing favourites. It needs to play in the national interest, not to its own favourites in its own electorates. (Time expired)

Watch Sharon’s speech here.

ATTACHMENT: Response to Questions on Notice (Infrastructure) – August 2019.