ADJOURNMENT - Macarthur Electorate: Roads

ADJOURNMENT - Macarthur Electorate: Roads Main Image

06 September 2023

Over 20 koalas have died on Appin Road this year—there were another three yesterday—together with countless wallabies, wombats, possums, gliders, snakes, lizards and birds. I've lost count of the number of times I've stood in this parliament and spoken about the need to protect Macarthur's koala colony and the need for sensible development to provide urgent safety upgrades to Appin Road for motorists and wildlife alike. In the last 20 years, over 20 people have been killed on Appin Road in motor vehicle accidents. I've lost count of the number of representations I've made to the state ministers, particularly those responsible for the environment, planning and transport, calling on them to take urgent action. I've been campaigning on this for eight years. To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement. Macarthur residents are beyond tired and frustrated with the lack of wildlife protections and road safety upgrades for Appin Road.

In July, the New South Wales government, through the planning minister, gave conditional approval for a massive housing development to go ahead in Appin, which will displace countless wild animals and place unimaginable strain on local infrastructure. This project is, rightly, under the spotlight, as noted in today's Guardian, which shows that the former head of New South Wales planning approved this project before then taking up a job with the developer managing the project. Yet, while they found time to review and approve such a complicated project and look after themselves, they have not found time to approve and implement the upgrades and infrastructure that are so sorely needed to account for this monstrous project, a project that the New South Wales planning department noted would not be needed until 2036. Amidst all this, local wildlife advocates such as Ricardo Lonza, Pat and Barry Durham, Sue Gay and many others, have worked tirelessly helping injured and killed koalas along Appin Road, with many of these deaths and injuries occurring in the vicinity of this project. They are the unsung heroes.

There appears to be, however, a tacit agreement between the local council and the state government Department of Planning and Environment for extinction of our local koalas and continued environmental degradation. This is shameful. It is disgraceful. As I said, I've been informed that three koalas died yesterday on Appin Road. This week, the ABC published a harrowing story which stated that the New South Wales government has not collected important wildlife rescue data and wildlife mortality data since mid-2019, which has severely hampered the case against overdevelopment in these regions. This is outrageous and shockingly pathetic from government departments.

I have called for a royal commission into planning and development in New South Wales. Nothing will satisfy me until this is implemented. I also call for urgent wildlife protections on Appin Road and human protections along Appin Road. If this necessitates a continued police presence along Appin Road 24 hours a day then so be it. This is a situation that would not be accepted in any other part of the country. It is an absolute disgrace that the people of South-Western Sydney have been ignored by governments for far too long. It is unacceptable that this situation is occurring, and it's severely affecting the quality of life for local residents and the local traffic mortality statistics in the area. It's affecting all those who are buying new developments in the area, and it has to stop.

I have met with countless state ministers over a number of governments now, and no action has been taken. I am sick of the obfuscation, I'm sick of the lies and I'm sick of the lack of interest in the people and the wildlife of south-western Sydney. I demand that action be taken to investigate this. There is nothing further, I repeat, that will satisfy me.

We are in a crisis situation. Koala extinction, and extinction of other wildlife, is happening in front of our eyes. I have called for a twin rivers national park to protect the environment. I have called for protections on Appin Road and for the widening of Appin Road. And yet nothing has been done. The lies have to stop. The diversions have to stop. Action is urgent.