WEBBS CREEK FERRY
Mr RAY WILLIAMS
(Hawkesbury—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.20 p.m.]: An issue of particular concern in the Hawkesbury electorate is the Webbs Creek ferry that operates in conjunction with Wisemans ferry. Webbs Creek ferry provides people with access to the Lower Macdonald and St Albans areas via St Albans Road and Wisemans ferry offers people the opportunity to access St Albans via Settlers Road through Gunderman and across to the Gosford electorate. I acknowledge the presence in the Chamber, up until a few moments ago, of the newly elected member for Gosford, who would understand this issue and the importance of the role played by ferries in the north-western area of the Hawkesbury electorate.
The current problem is that during weekends when large numbers of tourists visit facilities such as Del Rio or when visitors wish to enjoy a lovely afternoon in the St Albans area the Webbs Creek ferry is not providing an adequate service. As many members would know, Webbs Creek is an area of pristine beauty in the Hawkesbury electorate. The Webbs Creek ferry provides a valuable tourism link between the beautiful waterways on the Macdonald River and the wider reaches of the Hawkesbury River. Local people also rely on the ferry to travel to and from their places of employment. Children use the ferry to get to and from school. However, only one ferry operating on Webbs Creek creates huge uncertainty because of the possibility of the service breaking down.
In the past few months when breakdowns have occurred a dangerous situation developed when people offered the use of their barge or boat to people who needed to cross the creek. It is very worrying that children are accepting offers of transport across the river to enable them to catch buses to attend school. Some children attend Wisemans Ferry primary school and others attend the Maroota Public School. I drew this issue to the attention of the Minister in 2010. I submitted a question on notice dated 11 May and requested examination of the issues that exist in relation to the Webbs Creek ferry. No action has been taken up to this point. I take this opportunity to request the provision of an additional ferry to operate in conjunction with the Webbs Creek ferry in an arrangement that is similar to the way in which the Webbs Creek ferry operates in conjunction with Wisemans ferry.
Two ferries operate at Wisemans Ferry—a large one and a separate smaller ferry that operates throughout weekends and during busy periods when required. The second ferry offers assurance of service to commuters, visitors and tourists in the event that the larger ferry breaks down. The request I forwarded to the Minister is important because both Settlers Road and St Albans Road, which are two access roads from the river to St Albans, are divided by the Macdonald River. If people come to the Webbs Creek ferry in the morning and the service is not available they have to drive for an hour through St Albans to catch the Wisemans ferry. Members can imagine the frustration caused not only to commuters but also to parents who rely on the service to get their children across the river to enable them to attend school.
I would very much appreciate the Roads and Traffic Authority taking into consideration the acute need for an additional ferry to operate in conjunction with the current Webbs Creek ferry. The provision of an additional ferry would provide certainty for commuters and tourists as well as increase safety. It is possible that a ferry with 18-car carrying capacity would suffice to augment the current service. In February 2011 approximately 150 people attended a public meeting organised by Steve Schumacher at the Del Rio premises owned by Bill McNamara. The whole community recognises the need for an additional ferry to improve the Webbs Creek ferry service. In addition to the request I made of the previous Minister in 2010, I will be taking up the matter with the current Minister on behalf of communities in the Wisemans Ferry area of the Hawkesbury electorate.