Jan 16, 2015

Labor to protect Thompson Square

Federal Labor will continue to support the Hawkesbury community in its fight against the NSW Liberal Government’s plan to rip apart Windsor’s heritage-listed Thompson Square and demolish the historic Windsor Bridge.

Today marks 545 days since protestors occupied Thompson Square in Windsor, the only existing 18th Century square still standing in Australia, in order to protect it from the NSW State Government’s ill-considered proposal to build a major new road through its centre.

Labor is for improved infrastructure, which can help boost productivity, reduce travel times and increase quality of life for communities. But the needs of improved infrastructure must always be balanced against the unique heritage values of any proposed project site.

That is why in July 2013 as Federal Minister, I wrote to NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay offering $500,000 of federal Labor Government funding to help find alternatives to the existing proposal.

In my letter I stated that any alternative proposal would need to protect the heritage values of the square.

Since that time it has become clear that Mike Baird and his LNP colleagues in the Hawkesbury region – Londonderry MP Bart Bassett, Hawkesbury MP Ray Williams and Riverstone MP Kevin Conolly – would rather fight their own communities in court rather than work with them.

This is a Government which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Thompson Square is listed by the National Trust and the NSW Heritage Register. Building a major road through it will irrevocably damage the heritage and community value of the square.

You don’t create stronger communities by tearing them apart.

The NSW Government’s refusal to even consider alternative options shows how out of touch they really are.

I commend Labor Candidate for Hawkesbury, Barry Calvert – one of the first local councilors to identify the problems with the Windsor Bridge proposal – and local Labor spokesperson Susan Templeman on their strong advocacy and activism on behalf of their local community throughout this campaign.

Communities are enriched by people such as those tireless volunteers who have now sat for 545 long days in the ‘High Commission’ at the edge of the square, talking to local residents and visitors alike about the importance of retaining Australia’s oldest civic space.