Nov 16, 2009

Question – Infrastructure funding: Wayside Chapel

Question without notice – Infrastructure funding: Wayside Chapel

Parliament House, Canberra

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

16 November 2009

Mr MURPHY (3:11 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. As part of its economic stimulus plan, why is the government providing infrastructure funding for the Wayside Chapel in Sydney?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Lowe for his question. Indeed, on Friday I was in the electorate of Wentworth announcing funding for an infrastructure project as part of our economic stimulus plan—important funding for the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross. This is an important community institution that has been providing services in Sydney since 1964 for the most vulnerable in our community. But this is also an institution that is in dire trouble. It is in dire trouble because, since 1964, there has been very little physical improvement to the building. The product of ageing, fires and wear and tear on that facility has meant that 40 per cent of it is uninhabitable, meaning that the very existence of this institution was under threat.

On Friday I announced that $3 million would be made available—in principle—from the government in order to fund the capital improvement of the Wayside Chapel. It will support jobs in the short term—some 50 jobs. This is a project that is shovel-ready; it is ready to go. The DA has been approved and we can expect work to begin in the first half of 2010.

There are also important contributions from the New South Wales government and from individuals and donors in the community. Along with Reverend Graham Long we call upon people—and I am sure the Leader of the Opposition would join this call—to contribute funds so that the fit-out can be made as good as possible and so that the services that Wayside can provide can continue to be provided into the future.

This project will also provide opportunities for apprenticeships and traineeships. It is an investment, because, of course, if this facility were not available it would result in a real drain on public finances due to the increased costs of looking after people who would simply fall through the cracks if that facility were not there.

It was a very proud day for me on Friday to be with Reverend Long and Tanya Plibersek, the Minister for Housing, and many of the volunteers who make such an extraordinary contribution at Wayside. I spoke to the Leader of the Opposition prior to making the announcement and I know that he was supportive of Wayside, as he has been, along with the member for Sydney, for a long time. Lucy Turnbull is of course also a strong supporter of Wayside. I pay tribute to Reverend Long and all the others. This is an example of the government’s economic stimulus projects making a real difference—in the short term, in job creation and in providing an important facility in Sydney and, in the long term, making sure that Wayside Chapel can continue to provide the best of services to the most vulnerable in our community for many years and decades ahead.