WESTERN SYDNEY PUBLIC TRANSPORT USERS GROUP
Mr BART BASSETT (Londonderry) [12.40 p.m.]: I move:
- That this House:
(1) congratulates the organisers of the 2011 Western Sydney Public Transport Users Association Transport Symposium that brought stakeholders together and advocated for a better deal for transport users; and
(2) congratulates Patricia Guy, Ken Moriarty, Marianne McCloud and John Svoboda from local networks in the Londonderry electorate, St Marys and Mount Druitt who are lobbying for the restoration of local bus services that were cancelled by the former Government.
The Western Sydney Public Transport Users group is an umbrella group that represents many other groups throughout the Sydney community: the Hills Transport Group, the Blue Mountains Commuters and Transport Users Association, the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group, Save our Buses in Mount Druitt and surrounding areas, the South Penrith Residents Action Group, the Liverpool Transport Task Force Group, the Oaklands North Parramatta Group, the Transport for Local Community group at Bankstown, the Blue Mountains Sustainable Alliance and the Blackheath Highway Action Group, to name a few. At the symposium I attended in 2011 a refreshing approach was taken by an organisation that is genuinely interested in representing the transport needs of people throughout Sydney and in western Sydney in particular who had been forgotten by the previous Government.
I am suspicious about the existence of the Sydney Alliance, as many union Labor mates were involved in its formation and operations. I will keep a close eye on the Sydney Alliance in terms of its true intentions. Unlike the Sydney Alliance, the Western Public Transport Users group is genuinely interested in advocating for better public transport in western Sydney. It does not have any ulterior motives and it is not politically driven. Not only did the Minister re-establish the 728 bus service; other things have continued to happen. Preserving corridors in western Sydney was not even on the radar of the former Government. Other issues include the establishment of Transport for NSW, examining contracts signed by the former Government, the waste of billions of dollars and the Tcard debacle—all these issues were raised at the Western Sydney Public Transport Users group symposium in 2011. Since then I have had discussions with member groups and they are pleased with the direction the Government is taking with regard to public transport in western Sydney.
I refer, for example, to the current consultation about the corridor for extending the North West Rail Link through to the Marsden Park industrial lands. The Government is getting on with the job of building the North West Rail Link. As I said, we have reinstated the 782 bus service to the St Marys, Mount Druitt, Penrith area. I note that the member for Mount Druitt is in the Chamber. I did not hear him calling out for the reinstatement of the 728 bus service after his Government ripped it out of the community. He is still silent on the issue. He should hang his head in shame that his Government left those people without public transport. We will continue to look at how to improve bus routes, and when the contracts are renegotiated we will ensure that they are more flexible in terms of what commuters and local communities need. We will ensure that the contracts are flexible so that if circumstances in a community change we can alter bus routes in favour of the commuter, not in favour of the government of the day.
In terms of the Tcard ticketing debacle, the Western Sydney Public Transport Users Group raised the need to have a common ticket to make it easy for people to move from one transport mode to another. The Minister is getting on with that job. A common ticket will be introduced on the ferries first and then it will be rolled out across all public transport. We are not reinventing the wheel but using a system that works elsewhere and introducing it in Sydney. I congratulate the Minister on that. Most importantly, I thank members of our community such as Ken Moriarty, Patricia Guy and John Svoboda who are simply representing the community. They are not doing so for political reasons. They are not trying to gain some recognition in the area for any political positions they might want in the future. They simply want good public transport in their local community. They continue to give their time to determine how improvements to public transport can be to the advantage of their community.
The Government's door is open to those people because, having been involved in lobbying over the years, we know that lobbying can be done professionally and respectfully. When that is the case the Government wants to work with people who have goals, who are not simply trying to score brownie points or political points. The people I have named are genuinely interested in working with the Government to improve public transport for their communities. So we will continue to work with them. Only two weeks ago I attended a public meeting at St Marys, at which both Ken Moriarty and Patricia Guy talked about how changes can be made when the contracts are renegotiated and how the 782 bus service might be further improved. We are open to suggestions. We want them to tell us how they believe things can be improved for public transport users in my electorate of Londonderry and the surrounding electorates, including Mount Druitt. I will work to make sure that the people in the Mount Druitt electorate are looked after, rather than ripping services away from them.
Mr RICHARD AMERY (Mount Druitt) [12.47 p.m.]: As the member for Mount Druitt I share some Mount Druitt suburbs with the member for Londonderry. I do not have a problem with the wording of the motion and therefore I will not be suggesting that we oppose it, although I cannot agree with all the member's comments in support of the motion. In relation to bus services, paragraph (2) of the motion states that bus services were cancelled by the former Government. That is a glib way of explaining a major review of bus routes within the broader Mount Druitt area and other parts of western Sydney. The strategy behind that change to bus services, which was not community driven, was to speed up bus services from various Mount Druitt suburbs to Mount Druitt railway station.
Before the changes, most buses travelled through every little street in the suburbs, which was convenient for many residents. However, they felt aggrieved when a bus service was removed. In general terms, the bus services then came down the main streets of Mount Druitt, for example, Carlisle Avenue and Woodstock Avenue and directly to the railway station. The strategy behind it was to carry more people more quickly to the railway interchange, which was a $12 million project delivered by the former Labor Government. That aggrieved and upset many residents. The Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group was active in expressing concern on behalf of those residents who felt that the decision to cancel a bus service that had been coming down their street for 20 or 30 years should be reviewed.
I give credit to the former member for Londonderry, Allan Shearan, who had services reinstated in the Whalan area. We have heard the rhetoric from the member for Londonderry, but I will give the facts. First, the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group is an excellent organisation with a fantastic website. As an ardent user of the Internet I use this facility to read the blogs that commuters post on that website on a daily basis about the operation of a bus or train service. At the moment I am addressing concerns raised by people in the suburb of Shalvey about late night services. The group lobbied for improvements to public transport under our Government and will do so under this Government, which I hope can achieve the same goals that we achieved in transport. Last year this Government undertook a review of timetables and bus routes in western Sydney. On 9 November 2011 I asked the Minister for Transport a question on notice:
- Have new private bus timetables and routes been announced for locations in Western Sydney?
- Do any of these changes affect the Mount Druitt area?
- Mr RAY WILLIAMS (Hawkesbury—Parliamentary Secretary) [12.54 p.m.]: It gives me great pleasure to support this good motion moved by the member for Londonderry. As members would remember, during 2009 I raised several times in this House various problems that had beset many areas across western Sydney due to the bus reforms, largely to the private bus industry, undertaken by the former Labor Government. In early 2009 those reforms resulted in no fewer than 30 bus services being slashed from Dural to the city. On behalf of those people I advocated strongly through various forums such as the Alan Jones program on 2GB, Ray Hadley, the Daily Telegraph and the capable journalist Kevin Wilde of Channel 9. Throughout that advocacy and over the following few days we were able to restore many services to the Dural and Hills areas that had been removed by the previous Government.
However, the removal of those bus runs and a lack of public transport left various children, some disabled people and many elderly people stranded. There was no publication and certainly no advertising of the slashing of those services. People woke up on a Monday morning expecting to catch their normal mode of transport, but they were deprived of those services. Throughout my advocacy people across western Sydney became aware of my involvement in the bus industry and my involvement with the problems that had beset western Sydney. I started to receive phone calls, not only from my own area but from various areas of western Sydney, including Mount Druitt and Whalan where I am proud to say I met people such as John Sybota, Patricia Guy and Ken Moriarty, who explained to me that the services they had had in the area for 40 years had been removed. These services included the 782 run, which the member for Londonderry referred to, in the St Marys area.
Ken Moriarty, an elderly person with a walking stick, walked the streets of St Marys gathering hundreds of names on petitions, trying to force the irresponsible Labor Government to reverse its decision and reinstate the service. I was more than happy to stand beside Ken Moriarty and help him. Through our advocacy and through wonderful forums such as the fabulous St Marys Star and other local papers we were able to restore those services. Other groups formed almost overnight, such as the Save Our Buses action group at Whalan. I met with hundreds of people at the Whalan community centre, a suburb close to me because of my family involvement with the Whalan family, including the Oatlands Transport Action Group. We visited many aged and retired people who were impacted by the removal of bus services from Parramatta. I was proud to support those groups but even more proud to be a member of a Government that recognises that public transport is important to all areas of western Sydney. I am happy to support this motion. I know that the member for Londonderry will be prepared to stand up on behalf of these commuters in the future.
By consent, the take-note debate on committee reports postponed to permit the conclusion of the current debate.
- (1) How many Metrobus services are currently operating in the Sydney Metropolitan area?
(2) Has the Metro 71 service been announced to provide a service from Mount Druitt to Castle Towers?
(3) Will the Government proceed with the introduction of the Metro 71 service?
- I am advised:
13 Metrobus services are currently operating in the Sydney Metropolitan area. The Department of Transport is currently reviewing growth bus allocations for consideration by Government.
- I have read the budget papers and the Minister's press releases, and I can say there is no news on Metro 71. I ask the member for Londonderry, who shares some of the suburbs of Mount Druitt with me, to support my call for the already announced Metro 71 service between Castle Towers and Mount Druitt to be completed. I will conclude my contribution to give other members an opportunity to speak. I congratulate the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group on its excellent website. The feedback and blogs from the local community posting their grievances on that site on a daily basis are of great assistance to me in my role as local member. I urge all members interested in bus and transport services in the western region to be regular users of that website. I have no objections to the motion, but suggest that some of the rhetoric of the member for Londonderry is questionable.
- Mr GUY ZANGARI (Fairfield) [12.58 p.m.]: I attended the Western Sydney Public Transport Users Association Symposium held at Campbelltown, along with the member for Cabramatta and the member for Macquarie Fields, to represent the New South Wales Opposition on south-west Sydney transport issues. Paragraph (2) of the motion refers to the former Government. As the Government of the day, this Government has the responsibility for this task rather than doing the Benji Marshall flick pass and fobbing it off.<19>
- It is interesting to note that this Government has privatised Sydney Ferries and has in its sights Sydney Buses and the Liverpool to Parramatta T-way bus service, which will mean fewer services and higher fares for the people of Liverpool, Parramatta and Fairfield, for example. So before the member slags the former Labor Government he needs to look at his Government's record thus far. Members will know that the former Labor Government introduced the Metrobus services—
Mr Andrew Constance: Point of order: I do not think the use of the word "slags" is appropriately parliamentary. The member should be asked to elaborate on what he means by "slags" and if he will not will he please withdraw it from Hansard?
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! I ask the member for Fairfield to choose his words carefully.
Mr GUY ZANGARI: How about "rubbishes"? How does that sound, Minister? I will not stand corrected on that point. Members will know that the former Government introduced Metrobus services across regional Sydney that are now enjoyed by constituents in Coalition-held electorates. For the information of the member for Londonderry, I have made representations to the Minister for Transport regarding the inclusion of bus services at Woodpark Road, Woodpark to connect constituents from Upper Warren Road to the T-way. All I can report to constituents is a lack of action by the Government and the constant blame game directed at the former Labor Government by the Minister for Transport.
I say to constituents in any electorate that come together to advocate for a better deal from public transport that I support them. It is up to people in electorates if they have concerns about transport to voice their opinions and to bring them to their local members. I congratulate those people who are mentioned in paragraph (2) of the motion. However, the last part of the motion refers to the former Labor Government. Members opposite are the Government now. It is about time they acted responsibly and stopped doing the Benji Marshall flick pass to the former Government. They are in government now.
- Mr BART BASSETT (Londonderry) [1.01 p.m.], in reply: I thank the member for Mount Druitt, the member for Hawkesbury and the member for Fairfield for their contributions. It is very easy to sit in this Chamber and to say, "Do not get involved in the blame game." We are just highlighting the fact to the community and we will not let them forget that we are picking up the pieces, cleaning up the mess and trying to get the budget back in order so we can deliver public transport to the whole of New South Wales. We will not forget. We will continue to remind the community of what members opposite did for 16 years. It was not 16 months, or a year and a half, or two years; it was 16 long years.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! The House will come to order. The member for Londonderry has the call.
Mr BART BASSETT: Opposition members get excited when we mention those 16 years. In 15 months we have got on with the North West Rail Link. In my local community we have reinstated the 782 bus service. Let us consider the question asked by the member for Mount Druitt about the Metrobus and let us look at the dates. It is interesting to look at the dates. Did the member for Mount Druitt raise the idea of a Metrobus during those 16 years? No. He asked the question on 5 May 2011, five weeks after the State election. All of a sudden he found his voice. He looked out his window and said, "Gee, we need a Metrobus here after 16 years. Where is the Metrobus?"
I assure communities in Sydney and throughout New South Wales that they will have public transport based on demand and need, not based on a political whim or a favour for a few mates who have been set up under the Sydney Alliance. It will be based on need, which is why the 782 service was returned. It was returned because the community needed that bus service, which was taken away by those opposite. We will keep talking about the North West Rail Link because communities were lied to for over a decade. We have got on with the job of putting the North West Rail Link in place. We are also getting on with the South West Rail Link. We are asking community members for their thoughts on a corridor to extend the North West Rail Link.
Ms Noreen Hay: Ask them about Port Kembla.
Mr BART BASSETT: Is that not great? We are talking about spending $100 million down south—
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! I call the member for Wollongong to order.
Mr BART BASSETT: If the member for Wollongong does not want the money I am sure there will be plenty of people around the State who will take the money.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! That is not a point of order. The member for Wollongong will resume her seat.
Mr BART BASSETT: You have been told that it is not a point of order.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! The member for Wollongong will resume her seat.
Mr BART BASSETT: You are on a call at the moment so be careful before question time.
Ms Noreen Hay: Who is the Speaker?
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! I am. I called the member for Wollongong to order. If the member had been listening and not talking she would not have been called to order.
Mr BART BASSETT: I thank the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group. I agree with the member for Mount Druitt that it does a great job. The shock of the day is that the member for Mount Druitt is actually blogging. Well done, he is blogging, and well done to the Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group. I commend the motion to the House.
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Ms Melanie Gibbons): Order! General Business having concluded, the House will now proceed with Committee reports.