Aug 9, 2017

Constituency Statements – WestConnex

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:03): Recently we have seen on display for my electorate and for all residents of New South Wales, and indeed Australia, some of the mentality the coalition has with regard to respect for people and, in particular, respect for young people. The impact of the WestConnex project has been substantial on students at schools like St Peters Public School, which is in close proximity to the major St Peters interchange project. It’s also had a big impact on Haberfield Public School, which is close to the end of the current work that is taking place—extending the M4 and then the continuation of that on to Rozelle. We have seen Rozelle Public School being, quite rightly, very concerned about the proximity of an exhaust stack on Victoria Road to the students and school community at the school.

All of those concerns have been dismissed by the state government. Yet when, for the Northern Beaches tunnel, it was suggested that there might be a stack anywhere near a school on the North Shore of Sydney, the minister, Rob Stokes, intervened to say that would be unacceptable; the state government intervened to say that would be unacceptable. My message to the state government and to those responsible for the WestConnex project is simply this: students’ capacities should not be limited by pollution near their schools, and students should be given the same consideration whether they live in a Labor electorate, an electorate held by the Greens Party, or an electorate held by the Liberal Party. It is on display for all to see.

The contemptuous nature of the state government under Gladys Berejiklian and the way they handled community consultation and processes for the WestConnex project will be studied in future years as an example of how not to do infrastructure planning for a major project. This is a project where they are literally making it up as they go along. I stand with the school communities in my electorate, including Rozelle Public School, in saying that proper solutions need to be found which protect the interests of students and the community.