Mar 12, 2013

Question without notice – M4 & M5 extensions

ED HUSIC (Member for Chifley) – My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.  How will the government’s infrastructure investment plans help commuters travelling from Sydney’s west to the city and how will they help move freight more quickly into Port Botany?  How do these plans compare to other proposals?

ANTHONY ALBANESE – I thank the Member for Chifley for his question.   Indeed, I was with the Member for Chifley, other Western Sydney members and the Prime Minister last week when we announced our commitment to help build the M5 and M4 extensions.

We want to work with the NSW Government to achieve real improvements to Sydney’s motorways.  The current NSW proposal has a number of weaknesses in it, and we are insisting that they be fixed.  That is the way you do good infrastructure development: get your business plan in place first and then get your funding commitments made.

The three commitments that we have made are these:

  1. the M4 has to take people into the City;
  2. the M5 has to take freight to the Port; and
  3. you cannot have new tolls on old roads.

That is a common-sense position that people in Western Sydney understand.  That is why we have contributed $25 million, announced in last year’s Budget, to enable the business case to be developed.  It is very clear that we need to get the planning for this project right in order to ensure there is proper use of taxpayers’ funds.

Premier O’Farrell has a bit more work to do.

First he said the City connection would go to Camperdown.  Next he said, in an op-ed in today’s Daily Telegraph, that the City connection would go only as far as Petersham.  Next week it might be Ashfield.  One thing I do know is that Camperdown and Petersham are not in the City.  I do know that taking a freight connection to the side of Sydney Airport closest to St Peters does not get freight to the Port.  King Street, Newtown, is not a thoroughfare; it is a roadblock.

Unless we get this right the first time, it will simply fail.

I notice that the Liberal candidate for Lindsay [Fiona Scott] took out a full-page ad last week saying that the M4 East Extension will complete the missing link between Western Sydney and the City.  She quotes the Leader of the Opposition [Tony Abbott] as supporting our policy (see attached).

And yet, last week when asked whether it was a condition, he (Ton Abbott) was not sure: it was; it was not; it was; it was not.  He needs to come clean with the people of Western Sydney.

They cannot have it both ways.  You cannot have Premier O’Farrell saying, ‘We’re going to build a road to Petersham with Federal money,’ and then have this Leader of the Opposition pretending that this road is going to take people into the City.  He indeed has described his own commitment, which are made in these advertisements, as being an “impossible condition” for Federal funds.