ADJOURNMENT - Macarthur Electorate: Western Sydney Airport Rail Link
03 June 2021
I rise today to speak on an issue of critical importance to my electorate of Macarthur and to its residents' future economic prospects and our region's livability. It's now been almost five years since the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments' joint Western Sydney Rail Needs Scoping Study was initially released, and, to date, both governments have failed to take any action to provide rail transport infrastructure to my rapidly growing community.
I've spoken about this often, but we have reached a watershed moment. I want to speak about the benefits that a new rail line to Western Sydney airport from Macarthur will afford my community, but I'll just remind the House of a few critical facts. The government's own scoping study has identified a need for Macarthur's growing suburbs to be provided with a rail line that links them to Western Sydney airport. Infrastructure Australia has identified that public transport links from Macarthur and Leppington to the new airport should be priorities. Literally every expert and stakeholder one could engage with comes to the same conclusion: the new airport needs to be appropriately connected, via public transport infrastructure, to the rapidly growing south-west Sydney.
Shamefully, the Liberal government, at both state and federal level, refuse to act. They play politics. They misappropriate taxpayers' money to meet their own political objectives. We've seen this time and time again. From the sports rorts to 'Choppergate' to irrigation licences to the government's backflip on the NBN, those opposite misuse public money on a massive scale. In the last week, this has been identified in Infrastructure Australia's discussion of the northern rail link from Western Sydney airport to St Marys, showing this does not meet their criteria for a priority project. Even though the government have persisted with this northern link, they've not managed to do this appropriately either, as they have omitted a rail station in the Werrington campus of Western Sydney University, which was considered vital if this rail link was going to be appropriately developed.
We know that the misuse isn't limited to dodgy grants, lucrative deals with property developers or deals with people who have vested interests in providing development around Western Sydney airport. We know that a lot of what they've done has been inappropriate. Rather than commit to their own rail scoping report's findings and the recommendation of the independent experts in Infrastructure Australia, the coalition have sought to play politics and have decided to only commit to connecting Western Sydney airport to the north-west. They couldn't even do that right.
They've put the appropriate links to south-west Sydney and to my electorate of Macarthur on the backburner. The coalition were determined from the outset to ensure that my Labor-voting community would be locked out of the potential benefits that the new airport and associated infrastructure projects would deliver. Through their inaction, they've demonstrated they don't want Macarthur residents—along with residents of Hume, the electorate to the south; Wollongong; and the whole south-western area of Sydney and to the south—to be given appropriate development benefits that their Liberal-voting colleagues to the north would get. They've demonstrated that they don't want small businesses in my community to access the business and workload that construction of a new rail line would deliver. It's blatant economic gerrymandering from state and federal Liberal governments that are content to create a two-tiered society.
To add insult to injury, we now know, thanks to Infrastructure Australia, that the government's approach of picking and choosing infrastructure projects to fund based on postcodes was completely unfounded. Not only have they refused to act on their own reports and expert advice; they've maliciously pork-barrelled money into half a rail line, for which there is 'insufficient evidence that the economic, social and environmental benefits of the project would justify its cost'. Those are Infrastructure Australia's own words.
My community is growing exponentially. It's the fastest-growing community in New South Wales. There's a sound business case for the rail line from Macarthur and Leppington to be established to link my community to the airport and the aerotropolis. The government could refuse to take action in Macarthur, but no longer. They must act on a moral basis to provide that link. Macarthur residents are bearing the cost of a lack of government investment and a lack of planning. (Time expired)