Budget Estimates and Related Papers

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [3.57 p.m.]: I want to talk about the failures of this Government in regard to its budget.

Mr David Elliott: This will be a short speech.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I thank the Minister for Corrections for his comment, but it will take a good 15 minutes and unfortunately I will not be able to include everything. I look forward to being granted an extension of time.

Mr David Elliott: You took all your time in your inaugural speech.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: Indeed, I did. I hope to continue to do so more and more. I will address some of the problems in Western Sydney that this budget has thrown up; the things that this Government has failed to deliver in Western Sydney.

Mr David Elliott: North-west rail?

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: It is always in different areas, especially failures in health, transport, roads, education and to the multicultural community. The Government has failed to fund desperately needed upgrades to Fairfield Hospital. The budget outlined the Government's plan to spend billions of dollars that it would receive from the sale of the State's power grid, but it will give no money, no consideration, to Fairfield Hospital.

Mr David Elliott: You wanted to sell it; we are leasing it.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: We are talking about Fairfield Hospital and how it is not being funded.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Adam Marshall): Order! The member for Prospect will be heard in silence.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I want to know why the Government has neglected the people of Western Sydney. Fairfield Hospital needs an upgraded emergency department but the Government has failed in that respect. Patients and their families will not sleep easily at night knowing that this Government has neglected their area of Western Sydney once again. The Minister for Health has no answer. She has given no explanation why not one cent will go to Fairfield Hospital. The master plan has been agreed, which is great. I credit the Government for agreeing to the master plan and getting it going but the Government has not funded it. That makes no sense.

The Minister and the Government must deliver funding to expand the children's ward at Fairfield Hospital and to allow the hand surgery unit, which was transferred from Liverpool, to be moved from the demountable buildings where it operates without enough equipment. People come from as far away as Campbelltown and from all over Western Sydney to visit the hand surgery unit but it does not have the funding to do its job properly. It is a real shame that the budget does not deliver money for the Fairfield Hospital master plan. I would not be able to say a thing about the Government's Health funding if it had financed the master plan but, of course, it did not do that. I will now speak about the rail corridor in the north of my electorate. Once again, the budget contains no money for Pendle Hill and Toongabbie stations.

Mr David Elliott: You didn't read the budget paper.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I have read the budget paper. The budget does not allocate a cent to Toongabbie station for the lift upgrades that were promised at the last election and the election before that. The people of Toongabbie will not receive a thing. Six weeks or so ago I gave notice of a motion concerning Pendle Hill station that asked the Minister to tell us when the Government would fund the station upgrade and when construction would begin. It was wonderful to see the Minister come out and say, "Yes, we have the money. We have got it there." He is right that it is in the schedule of works and I congratulate the Government on that. The problem is that the Minister will not give me a date. What date will construction begin? I am told it is just going to be sometime this year.

Mrs Melinda Pavey: Poor boy.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: It is great to see that the member for Oxley is awake. I am pleased to get abuse from her. We do not know of one cent that will be spent at Pendle Hill because it was not in the budget but the Government has said it will be upgraded. In that case I ask the Minister to tell me when construction will begin and what will be built. I will congratulate the Government once it has done that but as of now nothing has been confirmed. Today the member for Castle Hill said in a throwaway line that mothers with prams—such as my wife—can simply go to Wentworthville or Westmead stations. What about the disabled, elderly and frail who cannot jump in the car and do that? They cannot access Pendle Hill station. To suggest that they can go to another station is not a solution. In the south of the Prospect electorate is the Polding Street roundabout, which the Government has promised to fix. It is a dangerous roundabout where accidents occur almost every week. To its credit, the Government funded stages one and two of the upgrade but it did not complete the third and final stage because it ran out of time.

At the 2011 election the then member for the former electorate of Smithfield promised to get the money from the Government to fix the Polding Street roundabout. He did not do that. Shortly before the 2015 election some money finally came through but it was not enough and it did not offer a decent solution to make the roundabout less dangerous. Once again in this budget no money has been allocated for the final stage of works and so the roundabout will continue to be dangerous. I now turn to public housing. Within the Fairfield local government area in the south of the Prospect electorate the public housing waiting list is almost 20 years. It is unbelievable. What is the Government's solution to fix that problem? It was to build 11 new apartments in Smithfield. A few hundred more families need housing so more than 11 apartments are needed. Money needs to be spent on public housing in my electorate but it has not happened. The Government will get billions of dollars from the electricity assets lease or sale but it is not prepared to put any money into social housing in the Fairfield area.

In addition, not a single cent in the budget will go towards the provision of social housing in the Blacktown and Holroyd areas. The 20-year waiting list will remain. Nearly every week people make inquiries to my electorate office about social housing. Sadly, I have to tell them that they are going to have to continue to wait. Many of them have been waiting for 10 years already but they will have to wait longer. What else has the Government neglected to do? Let us look at the absolutely disgraceful cuts it has made to the Community Services budget for Multicultural NSW, which is a major State government agency. As I said, the Government will receive billions of dollars from the electricity sale but it has cut the Multicultural NSW budget from last year's figure of $700,000 to $300,000 for community support services, which will badly hurt the Prospect community. Many people in my electorate depend on the community support services provided by Multicultural NSW. Labor promised $300,000 to rebuild the Assyrian club that burnt down last year. In contrast, this Government will not give $300,000 to cover Multicultural NSW projects across the entire State. Once again, ethnic communities have been well and truly left out of this budget.

I will now summarise the key areas I have addressed. In the Health budget Fairfield Hospital has been completely neglected. There is no funding for overdue upgrades to an emergency ward that is half the size it needs to be. The hand surgery unit will remain in demountable buildings and the emergency department will continue to not have a proper waiting area. Let us not forget that the planned children's emergency department will not be built even though there is a huge need for it. In Transport, as I mentioned before, it looks as though Pendle Hill station will finally get its lifts. It will be better late than never but we do not know when the work will begin or how much money has been put aside. As for poor old Toongabbie railway station, the people of that area have been told to forget it; they are not getting one cent. Even though Toongabbie station has the same access problems as Pendle Hill it will not receive any funding. In the Roads budget there is no funding for construction on Blacktown Road and the Prospect Highway. Nothing will be constructed to help stop congestion or raise and widen the road.

Mr John Robertson: Shame.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: The member for Blacktown is very much aware that it is a disgrace. It is absolutely shocking. The road is riddled with choke points into Wentworthville and on towards Eastern Creek. As I said, the Polding Street roundabout continues to be a major danger for the young families of Wetherill Park, Bossley Park and other places who drive to Fairfield every day. In the last few minutes of my contribution I will talk about the Education budget. Girraween High School, which is a selective high school and one of the top five best high schools in the State, experiences electricity blackouts five to seven times a day on average because the Government has not given the Department of Education and Communities enough money to upgrade the electricity supply. It is unbelievable. The top young brains in this State have to stop learning between five to seven times for between 15 minutes and one hour each day whilst the electricity is sorted out and they can turn the lights and their computers back on. I have seen photos of those children trying to do their schoolwork by torchlight from their phones.

Mr David Elliott: What?

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: It is absolutely appalling. The member for Baulkham Hills will get to see it soon in one of the newspapers.

Mr David Elliott: They are going to school at night now, are they?

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: If the member for Baulkham Hills would like to visit my electorate and have a look sometime I would be happy to show him around. I know that, as a responsible local member, he would be appalled by such things. Being a Minister, I hope that he would then lobby the Treasurer to do something about it.

Mr David Elliott: You've got to stop smoking the funny stuff. You've got to stop smoking so much pot.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I ask the Minister to withdraw that last comment.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Adam Marshall): Order! I will maintain order. The member for Prospect can be assured of that. What led to those remarks was an exchange across the table rather than remarks being made through the Chair. The Minister for Corrections, who is at the table, will cease interjecting when the member for Prospect is speaking. The member for Prospect will refuse to entertain any interjections and will ignore them. The Chair will maintain order. Cognisant of the fact that time is running out, I bring the member for Prospect back to the leave of the question.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: The member for Baulkham Hills suggested that I am a drug user. I will not stand in this Chamber and accept that. Mr Temporary Speaker, I ask you to ask the Minister to withdraw that comment.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Adam Marshall): Order! I heard a remark. I did not exactly hear every word. I invite the Minister to consider the request from the member for Prospect.

Mr David Elliott: In the interest of brevity, I withdraw the remark.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: In Education we all know the history of what is happening with TAFE and the way it has been gutted in New South Wales. The Government is gutting Granville TAFE, taking the sheet metal working school out of Granville TAFE and putting it into Wetherill Park. In a way that kind of helps those in the electorate of Prospect. But at the same time the childcare centre at Wetherill Park is getting smaller and losing staff. It appears that the Government wants it to close—even though there is a huge need for childcare places around Wetherill Park.

Finally, I turn to the multicultural community in Prospect and the fact that, unfortunately, as I mentioned before, Multicultural NSW has had its funding cut. It is an important organisation working on community engagement. It has had its budget cut by almost half—down to $300,000. That will have a huge impact on multicultural areas and ethnic groups within Prospect and Western Sydney. I have gone through many issues in this contribution. As I have worked through these things the reactions of Government members have shown that they know this budget fails the people of Western Sydney.

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