Bells Line Expressway
Mr ALLAN SHEARAN (Londonderry) [10.35 a.m.]: I am compelled to make a statement in the House today in defence of my community. If the so-called Bells Line of Road Superhighway ever goes ahead it will devastate Londonderry and the Hawkesbury region. The Federal Government cannot be trusted on this issue. Earlier this year the Federal roads Minister, Jim Lloyd, effectively ruled out the project. He said on 27 February at the Australian Roads Summit that the project would never happen.
It's a very ambitious project for a major expressway through the Blue Mountains. We certainly are focusing very much on the Great Western Highway ... in an ideal world with unlimited money these sort of projects would be fantastic ...
We have the Prime Minister now announcing that he wants to fund another study into the road! Who is my community to believe? There have already been two independent studies into this project, including a jointly funded State and Federal study that was released late in 2005. The study found that the superhighway would cost more than $3 billion to build. The superhighway will carve up our local villages, parks and open spaces. It will threaten wildlife and rural life. This is the type of environmental disruption the Prime Minister and his State mates want to cause the people of the north-western suburbs of Sydney, and we do not want a bar of his damaging plan.
At no stage has John Howard or the Liberal Party shown the slightest interest in the residents of 39 suburbs in my electorate. John Howard and the Liberal party have failed to explain to the residents of Londonderry, North Richmond, Llandillo, Richmond, Kurrajong and Berkshire Park that a million cars and trucks, including huge B-doubles, will be driving through their suburbs. What does the Federal candidate for Greenway, Louise Markus, MP, have to say about the concerns of residents in the Hawkesbury? She is quoted in this week's Hawkesbury Gazette as merely saying she would "fight to ensure that it does not proceed until several conditions were met, including community consultation". Now, that is a real laugh. Many have been saying there has never been any public consultation in the Hawkesbury on this issue, and they are right.
As for the State member for Hawkesbury, he is now hiding on this issue. The State Opposition promised to build the superhighway as an election commitment and now they want a study. Another study! The member for Hawkesbury, Ray Williams, can hide, but he cannot hide the fact that his Liberal leader, Barry O'Farrell, is determined to clog our roads, threaten our local environment, and jeopardise some of our most valuable heritage sites. Barry O'Farrell and Ray Williams are showing their true colours: they do what Canberra tells them. The Liberal and National parties are completely out of touch with the people in the north-western areas of Sydney. Anyone who wants to build a massive superhighway through our community will have a fight on their hands. I am in no doubt as to what our community wants because my community has told me. For instance, Mr Bob McCallum of Grose Vale says:
It must be difficult to be the aspiring Federal candidate ? when the 20,000 or so residents west of the Hawkesbury river who live in the threatened possible paths of the twice planned and rejected Bells Line of Tollway, yet again find themselves a political football. Not to mention the agricultural, World Heritage and National Park considerations.
Having read the text of the PM's speech and listened to the NSW State Government rejection for matching funding, for what must be a blatant piece of electioneering, I can only agree with the NSW Government conclusion.
After two studies that both found the concept of a Bells Line of Tollway uneconomic I suggest that if the Prime Minister has $10million lying around, the upgrade of the M7 (not M4 as he indicates) to Richmond Road or making Bells Line of Road safer would be two good places to spend it for starters, for best short term results.
Another constituent who is concerned about this issue is Ms Marie-Jeanne Jennison of Grose Vale, who states:
The bottom line is that there have already been TWO major studies done both denouncing this proposal.
The bottom line is that any expressway would cause major destruction of the environment.
The bottom line is that the Hawkesbury would be devastated by a road of this nature.
The bottom line is that Louise Markus' response is completely unsatisfactory and is carefully toeing the party line.
The message is clear: We do not want a massive superhighway. We do not want more than a million cars and B-doubles travelling on our local roads. We do not want our villages destroyed. We do not want our rural lifestyle wrecked. We do not want our local environment and heritage annihilated. We do not want important native plant life and animals threatened. We do not want the superhighway that Barry O'Farrell is pursuing. Anyone who wants this superhighway through Londonderry will have a real fight on their hands!