DOORSTOP INTERVIEW: Parramatta Light Rail Stage two


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SALLY SITOU: FEDERAL MEMBER FOR REID: I’m so glad that we’ve got everyone here today at Wentworth Point. This Liberal government treats infrastructure in Wentworth point like a bad relationship – it’s on again, it’s off again, it’s on again and now they’re trying to let us believe that they’re going to fully commit to this. We have to wait to see because they fail to deliver, they fail to commit and what we get as a result is broken hearts for both voters and residents in Wentworth Point, so I’m so glad that I am here with the NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns.

CHRIS MINNS, NSW LABOR LEADER: Thank you so much Sally, it’s wonderful to be here with Sally and Jo and the Mayor Donna and local residents from Wentworth Point, all furious with the NSW Government for not providing the basic infrastructure that has been promised to this community for many, many years. At the end of the day, you’re in a situation where Wentworth Point has over 15,000 residents, Melrose Park has over 20,000 residents on the way, Camellia over 10,000 residents. Families have made life changing financial decisions to move into this community on the promise of new infrastructure for these parts of New South Wales. The NSW Government has announced Parramatta Light rail Stage Two 14 times. At the last State Election they promised the infrastructure would be put into this community; straight after people voted they yanked it from the NSW budget. So is it any wonder that the residents of this community are sceptical when the Premier says we’re finally going to deliver the infrastructure that we’ve been promising for years and years and years. You cannot expect the people of Western Sydney to move into brand new communities with the promise of infrastructure that you then fail to deliver, when it’s most needed. That is after the community has already moved in. Now, we will be watching the NSW Government closely over the coming weeks and months to make sure that they deliver on the promises that they’ve made to these communities. But you’d have to be sceptical – a government that’s announced 14 times that a project will go ahead while yanking the announcement straight after the people have voted, is a government that is cynical and focused on politics and not on the infrastructure needs of the fastest growing region of any part of Australia. These communities need access to public transport, they need access to infrastructure. they’ve been promised repeatedly. It’s about time Mr. Perrottet delivered.

JO HAYLEN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT: Thanks Chris. Well, it’s good to be back here in Wentworth Point, but let’s be honest, this is a re-announcement of a re-announcement by the Perrottet government. The people of Wentworth Point and the people of Western Sydney have now been on a promise from this government for over five years. Let’s remember they announced Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two back in 2017. They did the planning supposedly by 2018, we were supposed to have construction here by 2020. In the 2019 election they recommitted to it and in 2021 they tried to cancel it. Well in 2022 what do you think the people of Wentworth Point all think? Understandably, they’re going to be pretty sceptical. They’ll be very concerned today too, that the re-announcement has very little detail, there’s no total cost, there’s no start date, there’s no timeline for construction and there are no commitments around local content. Let’s remember the Minister for Transport said that he would make the rollingstock, the trams for Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two here. Well, there’s no detail whatsoever in this re-announcement of a re-announcement. This government has announced this project 14 times over five years and the people of Western Sydney are right to be sceptical.

DONNA DAVIS, LORD MAYOR OF PARRAMATTA: The City of Parramatta welcomes further discussions about Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two. These suburbs are some of Australia’s fastest growing suburbs and they desperately need public transport infrastructure to support people that live here and work here. But we need more than just an announcement. We actually need to have concrete plans for the future construction of this bridge and for Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two. The City of Parramatta has the expertise when it comes to understanding what our community needs and we are very keen to work with the state government on future plans for Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two. But we must have the commitment. This has to be more than a headline, it has to be a commitment to build Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two, to support our communities.

MARK GREEN, WENWORTH POINT RESIDENTS ACTION GROUP: Thank you. As a resident of Wentworth Point we’re really excited by this announcement. But we’re a little bit guarded because for almost a decade, we’ve been promised parks, the light rail, all sorts of infrastructure, but unfortunately we’re still waiting. The only certainty in Wentworth Point is that there’ll be more building. We’ve got 15,000 residents now, and unfortunately, this government just keeps on letting us down, so we’ve only got one road in, one road out and we desperately need the light rail. But until we actually see it start being built, we won’t really believe in it.

Thank you.

CELEMENT LOU, PRESIDENT WENWORTH POINT RESIDENTS ACTION GROUP: The community of Wentworth Point have been lobbying very, very hard for this for many, many years. So this morning’s announcement of the Light Rail Stage Two has been welcomed, but we’d like to see its construction start as soon as possible, because this piece of infrastructure is mind critical for this area for us to connect with Parramatta, and also for  us connect with Sydney Olympic Park and the City.

MINNS: We’re all happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Chris can you comment on the lack of transparency around the funding code or the budget allocation for stage two of the light rail?

MINNS: The NSW Government’s been reluctant to release any details about Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two much to the frustration of the local community. They’ve really left them in a situation where they’re in limbo. Tens of thousands of people have moved into this community with the promise of public transport infrastructure. They were promised it at last state election, then it was yanked. Now we’ve got another promise but they’re very vague in relation to start dates, completion dates, and how much money will actually be provided. We’re calling on Mr Perrottet to end the confusion. Make sure that the people of this community have some certainty in relation to public transport and tell us what’s going to be in the budget. No more secrecy, I think the taxpayers of this part of New South Wales deserve some honesty from their own government.

JOURNALIST: On honesty how much credence do you put on the reasons behind the delay and why it hasn’t kind of gone ahead, being construction costs and inflation and that kind of thing?

MINNS: A few things here in relation to that. Firstly, the NSW government promised at the last State Election before people voted that they could have it all. All of the infrastructure pipeline that was in the works would be delivered on time and on budget. I thought it was a reckless thing to say because circumstances change, the economy changes, revenue into the government can change as well, but they went ahead with that promise in any event. Now they’re cancelling projects, delaying projects and there’s real world implications for these delays. People have made investment decisions about where they raise their families, where they put their life savings into the local community, and to have the infrastructure yanked after a promise has been made, can turn lives upside down. So I don’t think the government understands the real world implications of their changes to policy. I think they should be transparent about what they’re promised when it comes to elections. And I think many voters are aware that many of these projects were in deep trouble before COVID even came into Australia. They were over budget in many cases, the infrastructure pipeline was under serious threat, but the government made these promises knowing that they were marginal at best, and they went ahead with them in order to harvest votes and then they yanked those promises out from these communities once the election was out of the way.

JOURNALIST: Under a Labor state government how much of a priority will stage two of the Parramatta Light Rail be?

MINNS: We need to build Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two. You cannot have a situation where you’ve told tens of thousands of people to move into a suburb like this and provided nothing but one road in, one road out. Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two must be built. It’s essential for this community, a rapidly growing, fast growing community in NSW.

JOURNALIST: Donna or maybe some of the residents, could you kind of speak to the frustrations, council is experiencing in not having construction starting and what you’re hearing from residents about light rail construction?

DAVIS: The delays to the Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two have impacted on the council being able to deliver the upgrades to the traffic lights here at Hill Road. It’s as simple as that, delays and delays with major infrastructure projects like this have a roll on effect on to other things that we can deliver to the community. We already know that Melrose Park is limited with how far they can develop without the delivery of Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two. The transport modelling shows that without Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two, we cannot develop that suburb to its full capacity,y and that’s important when the government is saying that Parramatta needs to meet dwelling targets and our employment targets in the next 15 to 20 years. As far as Wentworth Point is concerned, they continue to get hollow promises. They’ve waited eight years for the Peninsula Park, we still don’t have any money in a budget to actually build that park. So you can understand why this community in particular is extremely frustrated, because it’s great to have an announcement but we need to see a timeline, we need to see funding commitments to see that these projects are delivered, because we know firsthand that they’re not getting the attention that they need here in Wentworth Point.

JOURNALIST: Do you want to talk a little bit about what you’d like the government to do say tomorrow, what you’d like to see in the short term, as far as infrastructure in Wentworth Point.

GREEN: The big thing we would really like to see is them deliver on their promises. They had over an activation legislation dating back to 213 and development plan from 2014 and which stipulated that there’d be traffic lights here, there’d be a light rail, there’d be a 3.9 hectare park. None of that stuff is here. The residents, development is here, the residents are here we’ve got 15,000 – there’s six 40 storey towers going in, down on the Parramatta River, and they’re still going ahead, but there’s no infrastructure to support those things. When it rains we can’t get in and out, this road is a river, it joins part of the Parramatta River. So you know, what we’d really like to see is that they actually delivered what they promised. We all bought here with promises about what this beautiful suburb and you know, we’re a beautiful, natural environment, but unfortunately all the infrastructure that the state government promised just hasn’t been delivered.

LOU: In terms of other infrastructure, I’m the president of the Wentworth Public School P&C. The school opened in 2018 was filled with 400 kids, but now it’s reached capacity after a year. So we’ve got 14 demountables at the moment. There’s been talks about a plan for the stage two primary upgrade to the school, but the problem is we haven’t heard anything from the Government. There’s no problem with the demountables at the moment, but there’s not enough land for the kids to play, there’s not enough playground space. And with more demountables coming in, there’ll be no playground space left for the kids and it’s very important because you know, we all live in a high rise environment so a lot of the kids, they need the open space.

JOURNALIST: Do you guys feel at all forgotten by the State Government?

GREEN: Do we feel forgotten? Absolutely. We feel betrayed. Honestly, there was an 18 per cent swing to Sally Sitou in this federal seat, and, you know, that was clearly the residents saying – this used to be a Liberal booth and that was the residents saying we’ve completely lost faith. You know, we bought with a bunch of promises about all the infrastructure that we would get but unfortunately, none of it has been delivered and what they have delivered like Clements said with the school, they delivered a 400 students school, and three years later, it’s almost double that in the number of students. So it’s the most crowded school in NSW, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. And you know, this is just terrible planning and really, unfortunately, a betrayal by the State Government.

Thanks, everybody.

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