Feb 8, 2018

Adjournment – Western Sydney Rail

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:29): I rise today to once again support Western Sydney Rail. I do so because it is an essential component of improving liveability and boosting productivity and job creation in Western Sydney. At present, there are only 0.75 jobs for every local worker. As a result, one-third of Western Sydney workers—more than 300,000 people—have to travel to other parts of the city, particularly to the CBD, daily for work. Travel times can be up to two hours each way. The other thing that doesn’t work about Western Sydney is that, because of the nature of Sydney’s growth, it works in a hub and spoke, with the hub of Sydney’s transport being the CBD, with the spokes going out. There are no north-south public transport rail links in Western Sydney. That’s why the north-south corridor from the main Western Sydney line extending up to the north to Rouse Hill but then down through to the Macarthur region is so critical and why Labor declared our support for such a project prior to the last federal election. We reconfirmed that in a visit I had with Bill Shorten last year.

The fact is that, to travel one way by train from Marsden Park or Riverstone south to Camden or Campbelltown can take as long as 2½ hours. What that means is that there’s great car dependency in Western Sydney. The high dependency on the car means the average Western Sydney family currently spends approximately $22,000 a year on transport costs, according to the Australian Automobile Association’s Transport Affordability Index. The study of the benefits of Western Sydney Rail done by Deloitte and Arup on behalf of the Western Sydney Rail Alliance and the Committee for Sydney found this:

The economic benefits of the corridor are clear. From 2024 to 2040, north-south rail will add $44.7 billion in benefits to the economy, reaching $3.6 billion per year by 2040.

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There can be no doubt that a north south rail solution is crucial to the sustainable development of the Western Sydney Growth Corridor and its future as a smart city.

That’s why we need to do two things. We need to extend the south-west rail link from Leppington via Bringelly to the new Western Sydney Airport, and we need that new outer-orbital line from Macarthur in the south to St Marys in the north through the Western Sydney Airport. This must be available from day one so that we can maximise the economic benefits, the job creation, of not just the airport itself but the employment lands around the airport that we see, particularly in that corridor to the north of the Badgerys Creek site right through to Penrith.

A lot of great planning has been done by the councils in the region. The councils have all supported that north-south corridor for a rail line. This is an important part as well of overall city planning. Labor, of course, supports making the concept of the 30-minute city a reality. This is a one-off opportunity in Western Sydney to grow the economy, to grow jobs and to get it right on what are, in many areas—such as the employment lands to the north as well as the airport site—greenfield sites. Projects like the science park being developed by the private sector will deliver in themselves some 12,000 jobs. We want those jobs to be available to people who live in Penrith and Campbelltown, and that’s why this corridor is so critical.

Now, after many decades of prevarication and dispute, the Western Sydney Airport is moving forward as a reality with bipartisan support. An area of disagreement is this issue of public transport. Public transport must be available on the day that the airport opens, and that’s why I call upon the government to commit to it. This is an essential infrastructure project.