CARDIFF INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
Mr ANDREW CORNWELL
(Charlestown) [7.17 p.m.]: It gives me great pleasure to talk about some of the fantastic projects that the O'Farrell Government is delivering for the Cardiff area of my electorate. Cardiff is one the oldest town centres in the Newcastle region. The first grant of land to a white settler in the Cardiff area was to George Weller in 1833, stretching west of the current Macquarie Road to Argenton and Cockle Creek. In the latter part of the nineteenth century two factors attracted people to the Winding Creek area. One was coalmining, with the opening of the Lymington and South Wallsend collieries. The other was the construction of the railway, which led to a navvy's camp being established at Winding Creek in 1883, and work continuing through most of the next decade.
On 24 March 2011 Barry O'Farrell visited Cardiff and witnessed firsthand the dilapidated state of our town centre, and he has provided $2.5 million to upgrade our main street. Last Monday Lake Macquarie City Council voted to approve putting the initial plans for the upgrade on public exhibition. I am delighted that councillors of all political persuasions showed their support for Cardiff and supported this proposal. Nobody has spent a cent on Cardiff's main street for 100 years. The town centre services some 5,000 households and I look forward to helping to deliver a town centre that we can be proud of.
Cardiff Railway Station is another piece of neglected infrastructure. The community has been fighting for a decent facility for many years. The community's concerns were repeatedly ignored by the previous Labor Government until it realised that it was facing political trouble in the surrounding electorates and the project suddenly became important. Before the election, Labor announced the upgrade would be complete by December 2012. But the detailed design phase, which began in late 2010, revealed the need for more work than was previously thought to make both platforms level and safe. Labor failed to keep the public informed. The previous Labor Government had 16 years to deliver this project and then it botched the planning. We recognise the need for this project to proceed as quickly as practicable and therefore we have established a project team to fast-track the delivery of the Cardiff station easy access upgrade.
RailCorp has formed a team charged with the key task of accelerating the delivery program for the project so that it will be finished ahead of the previous December 2013 completion date. The upgrade includes lengthening the platforms to accommodate eight-car trains, providing additional weather covering on platforms and, importantly, making the station accessible. The upgrade will ensure people using wheelchairs, pushing prams or carrying luggage can independently access the station. This Government has been very clear: We will do our homework and we will be upfront with the community about the real timetables for projects like this. RailCorp has advised it will work with Transport for NSW to ensure an accessible lift is in place as soon as possible so that the platform is accessible while the rest of the upgrade works continue. The Government is determined to deliver this upgrade.
Another local project is the construction of the Pennant Street Bridge at Glendale to provide a second point of entry into the Cardiff Industrial Estate and also a second entry into the Glendale Shopping Centre. This project will create hundreds of jobs and improve the flow of traffic locally. Labor had 16 years to support this project yet never supported it financially. The O'Farrell Government has committed $15 million to support this project and Lake Macquarie City Council has committed $10 million to it. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has changed funding levels applicable under Regional Development Australia, which now leaves this project potentially without a Federal source of funds.
The Federal member for Charlton, Greg Combet, is on record saying that this is the most important project in his electorate. He is correct. He also is on record saying that this project should be a collaboration between local, State and Federal governments. He is also correct. I call on the Federal Government and the local Federal member, Greg Combet, to support this project by looking for another source of funds to make up the shortfall. The Federal Government has been happy to part with vast sums of taxpayers' money on projects with dubious potential. This project is a job creator and, therefore, should receive unconditional Federal support. The former Labor Government was never able to deliver on this project and never supported it. The O'Farrell Government has supported this project with funding of $15 million. The ball is now in the Federal Government's court. It needs to support our community by fulfilling its end of the bargain.