Ms OWENS (3:20 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister advise the House on why the Epping to Parramatta rail link is important and how it has been received?
Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) —I thank the member for Parramatta for her question and congratulate her on being a local member who stands up for her electorate. Of course the Parramatta to Epping rail link is an important project. It now ensures that this government is committed to an urban rail project in every capital city on the mainland. It is an important project that will open up opportunities for people in Western Sydney to get access to Macquarie University and to get access to the high-tech jobs that are located around the North Ryde sector. It will also help build Parramatta as Sydney’s second CBD. If we are serious about tackling issues such as urban congestion and the quality of life in our cities, we have to make sure that we back up that commitment with real dollars—and we have done that through our announcement during the election campaign.
I must also mention how this has been received. The people of Western Sydney know that people on this link directly benefit from this project and that it facilitates the Western Express line—meaning, whether you live in the Blue Mountains in Western Sydney or whether you live—
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting—
The SPEAKER —I can predict the point of order by the Chief Government Whip. The member for Barker was standing and doing whatever he was doing for a very long time. I have indicated that I would give lenience to the Manager of Opposition Business and the Leader of the House. Regrettably, the Manager of Opposition Business was in conference, standing or kneeling on the bench, at the same time. The member for Barker should be very careful about the way he goes about his duties, because it is obvious by the reaction of the House that it was distracting and, therefore, disorderly. I hope that is what the member for Hunter, as the Chief Government Whip, was attempting to bring to my attention.
Mr Katter interjecting—
The SPEAKER —The member for Kennedy can sit down and practise for 45 seconds while he listens to the end of the answer by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
Mr ALBANESE —Thank you, Mr Speaker. This is a project—
Honourable members interjecting—
The SPEAKER —The minister has the call. Member for Mayo, this is not the time. We need to take our places as the standing order says, because it has been distracting.
Mr ALBANESE —You’d really want to observe their tactics meetings, wouldn’t you.
The SPEAKER —Order! The minister will go to the question.
Mr ALBANESE —I certainly will. This is a project, like the Moreton Bay regional rail project, that has been a long time in the making. Indeed, it was announced by Bruce Baird, the former member for Cook, when he was transport minister in the New South Wales Liberal government. But we are making sure that it becomes a reality. Since then, there has been a big fight to make it happen.
During the election campaign, on a pamphlet ‘I’m fighting to get things done’, the current member for Bennelong said that he was fighting for the Parramatta to Epping rail line. Indeed, he said that to everyone in the electorate, and the pamphlet arrived the day we announced it—a great piece of timing. But when we announced it he then said that he was against it. So he was for it and then he was against it—until it was happening. So he was for the theory, for the ghost train, but not for the people’s train. But, of course, it has changed again, because this week we have someone saying, ‘The construction of the Epping-Parramatta rail link is set to proceed, which is welcome news for the people of Bennelong.’ Yes, indeed it is. I hope that you vote consistently, as the member for Bennelong, and look after your electorate, unlike what occurred in the campaign when you walked away from that commitment, because there is a consistency here in that inconsistency when it comes to infrastructure—
Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The opposition will put up with a great deal but these slag and bag answers cannot be directly relevant to the question.
The SPEAKER —The point of order is?
Mr Pyne —Direct relevance. Slag and bag answers cannot be directly relevant.
The SPEAKER —Order! The point of order has been received. The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The question relates to the Epping to Parramatta railway line and how it has been received. The minister will directly relate his remarks to that question. The minister has the call.
Mr ALBANESE —It has indeed been received well. The member for Parramatta knows that her electorate wants this vital project to proceed. It will be proceeding because this is a government that is prepared to lead on nation-building infrastructure. We will continue to do it, particularly when it comes to urban public transport.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.