Federation Chamber - CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS - Hunter Region: New South Wales Government

February 28, 2018

 I rise to speak about the utter contempt the New South Wales Liberal government have for the Hunter region. First they privatised our port after promising us 50 per cent of the proceeds of the sale. They got $1.7 billion for it. Did we get $850 million? No, we got less than $500 million. Second, they privatised our bus service, which has seen a significant deterioration in the service. I was at a protest meeting at Belmont 16s sailing club last week, where over a thousand people packed into the room and 200 people were turned away—so 1,200 people—to protest the bus route and timetable changes.

John from Caves Beach talked about his disabled daughter, who, instead of catching one 40-minute bus to her support service in town, has to take three buses, and the journey now takes one hour and 40 minutes each way. He talked about the impact this is having on his disabled daughter. Jack, a high school student from Swansea Heads, now has to leave home at 5.30 am to get to an 8 am class. God knows how he is going to compete in the HSC given these long hours. A young mum talked about being turned away from buses because they weren't pram accessible. Bec very bravely talked about her daughter in Warners Bay. They used to have a 40-minute bus ride to her daughter's school in town. Now they have to catch a bus at 6.30 in the morning, go to Mount Hutton, wait at the shops for 48 minutes and catch a second bus, only to arrive at school at 8.30 am. A 40-minute journey is now a two-hour journey. Bec talked about how this 11-hour day was just too long for her little girl trying to go to school each day. We also had a senior who is vision impaired talking about having to walk across eight blocks of broken ground without footpaths or traffic lights to get to the new bus stop. I've had pensioners contacting my office saying they moved into retirement villages because there was a bus stop right outside the retirement village, meaning they could still get around, and that bus stop has now gone.

Why am I raising this? This is the Commonwealth parliament, not the state parliament, but every Labor leader in my region—councillors, mayors, state MPs and federal MPs—is united in fighting a rotten state government and their contempt for the Hunter region. They have shown nothing but contempt and arrogance for a region that is enormously important to the New South Wales economy and has over 750,000 people living in it. They treat it with contempt. What do they do with all the spoils, all the economic wealth, that we provide to the state? They waste $2½ billion building two new football stadiums in Sydney. That demonstrates the contempt they have. They cut buses, they cut services and they try and privatise hospitals in my region so that they can build stadiums in Sydney. What an utter disgrace. I condemn Gladys Berejiklian and the New South Wales Liberal government.