Sep 7, 2017

Constituency Statements – WestConnex

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:06): I rise, yet again, to speak out against the destructive failure of planning of the WestConnex project in my electorate of Grayndler. Last month, the EIS for stage 3 of WestConnex was released. It confirmed that seven new smokestacks are going to be built in the Inner West in order to fumigate the tunnels being built underground. I recently received correspondence about the stacks from one of my constituents in Rozelle. He wrote:

Dear Mr Albanese,

My wife and I have lived in Rozelle for almost 20 years and we are absolutely not against development.

We understand that a 21st Century city needs a smart combination of private and public transport options …

It is beyond us to understand how any responsible government, any responsible human being in fact, in a first world country, considers it even conceivable that it is remotely acceptable to first concentrate and then spew unfiltered exhaust fumes onto its citizens.

We realise filters will cost up front and surely cost to maintain, but our point of view is this must be built into the cost of the project and delivered as part of the project. To do anything other is outright irresponsible.

Four of the stacks are being built in the suburb of Rozelle within a stone’s throw of local schools. All seven of them are situated in the middle of densely populated residential areas with more schools nearby.

The current NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, recently remarked, at the suggestion that a smokestack be built near a school on Sydney’s North Shore, ‘There is no way in hell that I’d support any development that would put the lives of pupils, teachers and parents at risk.’ The NSW coalition government are saying that there won’t be any stacks near any schools in electorates which they hold, but it’s fair game near schools in seats held by Labor.

We’re better than this as a nation in the 21st century. We deserve the same care for our kids and schools, regardless of who the local MP is. And we want the same protections in Rozelle, St Peters and Haberfield that Minister Stokes thinks that schools on the North Shore deserve. I call upon the Minister for WestConnex, Stuart Ayres, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to do the right thing and protect the residents of the state they claim to represent by filtering any stacks from this project.