Homebush Bay Parking

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SpeakersForsythe The Hon Patricia


The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE [10.36 p.m.]: This evening I shall speak about parking at Homebush Bay and, particularly, of problems I experienced last Sunday. When raising these issues I realise that I am in a position, as a member of Parliament, that is not enjoyed by others who may have experienced problems similar to those I encountered on Sunday. On Sunday I attended the Access Equity Expo at Hall 4, Homebush Bay, in my capacity as a volunteer with the Paralympics. I worked on the Paralympics stand for about three hours. I do not intend to use that position to draw political points, but the Government should be aware of several occurrences.

First, a majority of those attending the exhibition were confined to wheelchairs, and there were a number of aged people. They attended the exhibition to see displays on disability access issues. At least 50 per cent of those attending - possibly more - were in wheelchairs. Those people were told that they would be able to park in an access car park. The access car park is located at the back of hall 4. Those who were not accompanied by someone able to push the wheelchair were required to negotiate their way a long distance from the car park at the back of the hall, down the side of the hall to the front of the hall.

Person after person raised the issue of difficult access from the car park with those of us on the
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Paralympics stand. People want to know that Sydney will get it right for the Paralympics. The location of access car parks in relation to various venues was the first issue. In the case to which I refer the problem would not have been encountered had there been a door at the back of hall 4, fairly close to the car park. There is no door. Although that issue may appear to be minor, it is a difficulty that needs to be corrected if Sydney is to appear at its best for the Paralympics and for many other exhibitions held at the showground.

When I arrived at Homebush Bay I held an official exhibitor’s pass. I made no reference to parking and had no difficulty with the concept of paying to park or even parking at some distance. As I had to attend another event shortly after being at Homebush Bay, however, I needed to have my car with me. Parking officials were easily identified by their bright yellow and green shirts; they were clearly authorised parking officials. I told the first parking official I encountered that I had an official exhibitor’s pass. He directed me as to where I should go.

When I approached that car park I was instructed by another official to go further down to an area marked "Exhibitors’ Car Park". When I drove there, with many other cars ahead and behind me, I was told that there were about 150 places left. The sign on the side of the road had "P" for permit and although I realised I did not have a permit I parked my car because I had been directed there. During the course of the morning while I was on the stand I spoke to an official who indicated that one of his tasks was the co-ordination of casual workers. He mentioned that there had been problems in co-ordinating the parking with the Olympic Co-ordination Authority and the Royal Agricultural Society and also problems with the various instructions given to casual employees.

Quite clearly last Sunday various instructions had been given to employees, not all of which suggested there was co-ordination. When I returned to my car it had a parking ticket, as did every other car in the row. I have no difficulty paying that parking fine and I am not raising this matter for that reason. However, I wonder about all the other cars in that row. Many people in their employment may have parked there and their companies may pay the fine, but others could be volunteers working in various capacities, including some of the disability sports groups. I would not like them to have received a parking ticket.

I raise the problems of co-ordination of advice being given to people using the facilities and of access to parking. It is well and good to advertise that parking is available, but people should not have to push their wheelchairs a long distance. I was advised that it was very difficult for some people to access the particular hall. The Government needs to get these matters right for the Paralympics and other events.