Subjects; Labor’s $30 million commitment to Park and Ride at Schofields station, the Coalition Government’s failure to govern.
MICHELLE ROWLAND: Good morning and welcome to Schofields train station. I’m delighted to be joined here this morning by Anthony Albanese, who is Labor’s federal spokesperson for transport, cities and infrastructure, to Ryan Park, who is Labor’s Shadow Treasurer in New South Wales and also to our amazing candidate for the state seat of Riverstone, Dr Annemarie Christie. Anthony is no stranger to the issues that confront us here at Schofields and in the North West of Sydney, where we have had chronic issues here at Schofields concerning the lack of commuter car parking. Two years ago Anthony came out here during the 2016 election campaign, identifying that it was important to improve people’s quality of life by providing extra commuter car parking. I’m very pleased that Anthony has returned here today in order to make a very important announcement on this very matter that is so important to local residents.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Michelle and it’s great to be here with Ryan Park, the Shadow Treasurer from New South Wales Labor, but also with champions of this region – Michelle and Annemarie. They’ve campaigned very strongly for commuter car parking here at Schofields and I’m very pleased to announce that a Federal Labor Government would contribute $15 million towards the $30 million expansion of commuter car parking here at Schofields.
That would transform the capacity of people to be able to use this rail line. Commuter car parking is essential. That’s why Federal Labor has established a $300 million Park and Ride Fund, to fund commuter car parking in our capital cities, particularly in our outer suburbs. This is consistent with Federal Labor’s commitment under Bill Shorten to deliver $6 billion towards rail to assist Western Sydney. We know that upgrading rail infrastructure is critical, but it’s also important to give people the capacity to be able to use that rail infrastructure. And since two years ago when we made this commitment, this morning I can see that the queues are even longer. The need is even greater, which is why it’s good that we will be able to work with Luke Foley and his New South Wales Labor team, with Annemarie as a local state MP who will actually stand up for this region.
RYAN PARK: Well what a contrast. Whilst there is chaos in Canberra, chaos in Macquarie Street, here on the ground in one of the fastest growth areas in Western Sydney we have Labor delivering for the people of Western Sydney, thanks to the tireless advocacy of Michelle and Annemarie. It is great to join with Anthony Albanese, someone who is always putting commuters first when it comes to the infrastructure we need in the suburbs right across New South Wales. There can be no clearer contrast today than what Labor will be able to deliver in Government, compared to what is happening already in New South Wales and Canberra. In Canberra we have a chaotic, out of control Government. In New South Wales we have a Government completely out of touch – one that thinks it is smarter to spend billions of dollars on Eastern suburbs stadiums, rather than funding local infrastructure like commuter car parks that suburbs like Schofields and Western Sydney communities need as soon as possible. It is a great day, this will be a great new piece of infrastructure, it will make such a difference to the working life of men and women right across this area and I’m delighted that Labor at a state and federal level, once again, are demonstrating that we’re putting the people of Western Sydney first.
DR ANNEMARIE CHRISTIE: I’m so excited to be here today with representatives from both State and Federal Labor to make this announcement. This will have a massive impact on our community here in Schofields, taking an hour each day off the travel time. People have to park half an hour away from the station, if they can leave half an hour later it means they can have breakfast with their kids and they can be home in time at night time to read them a bed-time story. This has a massive impact on our local community and we’re so excited that Labor is able to deliver this for us.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much, happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Anthony, why is North West Sydney such a priority for you?
ALBANESE: Well it’s a priority because this is where the growth is. One of the things that Federal Labor understands, and I know that State Labor does as well, is that you have to get the infrastructure right before you move the population in. What we’re seeing in this area is a massive expansion. We’re seeing literally hundreds of thousands of people moving into this region and the infrastructure isn’t keeping up. We can see it when we walk in any direction from this station, on either side of this station, that people have to walk for half an hour from where they parked their car. Increasingly people are having to get here before 6AM to get a spot anywhere near this station. We know that this is a national issue. Under Federal Labor, last time we were in Government, we changed the way that the Federal Government relates in particular to our outer suburbs by funding public transport. Funding public transport, new rail lines is important. The North-South line, the new Metro through to the north of the existing Western rail line is critical. But it is also important that we deliver on projects like this that make a real difference to people’s lives.
JOURNALIST: What does $30 million worth of parking in this area look like?
ALBANESE: It looks like about 500 spaces and we’d work, obviously, with local government, with Blacktown Council, to ensure that it maximises the benefit for the region. We know that park and ride facilities are very much welcomed. One of the things that we’ve had from Michelle and Annemarie is tireless advocacy. They’re in touch with what their local communities want. It’s extraordinary that a state member, here, has said that they’ll build a small, just a few dozen places, but they’ll do it a couple of years ago and nothing has happened. What we’re committed to is making sure that we get on with delivering what infrastructure is about. The reason why I’m very committed and have had this portfolio now for a decade is because I want to make a real difference to people’s lives. This project will do just that.
JOURNALIST: Michelle, what is it like seeing this neglect for so long for the people of Schofields?
ROWLAND: It’s extremely frustrating and it is the top issue that people raise when I doorknock or do mobile offices in the area and it’s been that way for so many years. It is really a sign of how, I think, in touch Labor is with our local community, that we have taken this up from Opposition, at a federal and state level. We haven’t seen this matched from the conservative governments who are in power and, in fact, at the last federal election, the Liberal candidate went so far as to effectively say, ‘Oh, it’s not an issue’. Well it is an issue. It’s something that people are affected by every day and it goes to their quality of life. So we want to do practical things to assist people. It’s hard enough living in outer-metropolitan Sydney. Sure, it is a fantastic lifestyle and that’s why people want to move in here and we welcome that but we need to have sustainable development and with that comes investment in being able to access public transport. It’s one thing to have public transport, but you’ve got to be able to enable people to access it.
JOURNALIST: Annemarie, why has this area been neglected for so long as well?
CHRISTIE: That’s a really good question, Jake. This is the fastest growing area in North West Sydney and you only need to look around to see how much it’s changed in the last eight years and nothing has happened. The State Government will say, well we have invested because we have the North West Rail Link. What they’ve forgotten is that that actually doesn’t cater to most of the people that live in North West Sydney. That will take people to Chatswood, but this line is critical in taking people to where they are actually working, so places like Blacktown, Westmead, Parramatta and straight, direct line into the city. So why they have neglected it, I can’t answer that, but we’ve had enough and the residents around here have had enough too.
JOURNALIST: What have residents been telling you on the ground? You’ve been doorknocking for quite some time now.
CHRISTIE: Yes, I’ve been doorknocking pretty much throughout the electorate over the last few months and universally people are saying that the Government is not listening, they’re not hearing what the people are saying, they’re not listening to the issues. People are saying that car parking, everyone I doorknock says car parking is an issue. Not just for the people who are catching the train, but actually for the residents of the area who can’t get in and out of their houses because of the cars parked all the way up and down the streets. This is a major issue in our area and the only thing that the residents have heard from the existing Government is that they don’t need to do anything about it, because they are doing something else on the other side of the electorate.
JOURNALIST: Anthony, can the Federal Liberal Party actually challenge this? Do they have the ability (inaudible)?
ALBANESE: Well, I hope that the Federal Government get on board and match this commitment. Labor has been leading from Opposition when it comes to policy. We’re leading from Opposition in funding the western Metro, in funding the North-South Rail Line through Badgerys Creek. We’re leading from Opposition when it comes to commuter car parks here, in Wyong, in Gosford, in Riverwood. The fact is that the Federal Government is too obsessed with its own internal fights and yelling at each other like cats in a bag rather than actually representing what people want. They’ve stopped governing, which is why we think they should call an election and put themselves, frankly, out of their misery.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.