Toongabbie Business Chamber

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [5.56 p.m.]: The Toongabbie Business Chamber has recently been reformed. I had the pleasure on Monday night to meet and talk to the members of that chamber. I was accompanied by Michelle Rowland, the Federal member for Greenway, and the Mayor of Holroyd, Greg Cummings. Toongabbie has a small commercial centre that is built around its train station. It is home to many small businesses owned by hardworking families who go to work before sunrise and come home well after the sun has set every day. Many of those small businesses are owned and run by people who are working hard to give their families a better chance in life. This is a good story. But modern Toongabbie is not all about work; it is also about community.

This is where the Toongabbie Business Chamber comes in. The chamber has a vision to transform Toongabbie from a collection of small shops into a vibrant centre that attracts people from not only Toongabbie but also other parts of Sydney. The chamber wants to reintroduce the Toongabbie fete, a tradition lost decades ago. Members may not know that Toongabbie was the third settlement in Australia. We know about the settlements at Sydney and Parramatta; Toongabbie became the third settlement of the new colony. The Toongabbie Business Chamber also wants to clean up the community by taking action to remove years of graffiti on buildings. The chamber has put together strategic objectives to increase participation by the local population in local business, and to decrease crime, decrease graffiti and increase shopping revenue. Toongabbie is increasingly multicultural—most migrants are from the subcontinent—which is also having an impact on the community and businesses.

The business chamber continues to lobby the three councils in the area—Holroyd, Blacktown and Parramatta—to achieve its objectives. An upgrade of Toongabbie train station is needed. Unfortunately, the State Government has continued to promise an upgrade, including putting in lifts, but once again has failed to deliver in the budget. There are no commitments to upgrade the train station this year. Significant concerns about the safety of the overpass bridge at Toongabbie have been raised with me. The bridge was built in 1946, and its time has well and truly passed. It needs further load testing and upgrading. Once again, this Government has failed to provide funding to allow the department to do the testing. I commend the business chamber for its vision. The renewal of Toongabbie is only a small part of the inevitable continued expansion of Western Sydney, but it is an important part.

I turn to the economy of Western Sydney. Employers tell me that they want a State Government that supports small business as well as big business. Every day since the last State election, 24 extra people have joined the New South Wales unemployment queue. The State Government has directly cut 15,000 jobs. Federally, the Abbott Liberal Government plans to cut a further 16,500. We need to reinvest in TAFE. TAFE gives our youth in Western Sydney the tools they need to compete in an increasingly global market. Education is the key. We know that, once again, TAFE is being cut by this Government. Not only are TAFE jobs being cut but also fees are being increased. Not only are TAFE jobs being cut but fees are being greatly increased. Wetherill Park TAFE in my area needs more support. It is increasing in size—that is a credit to the Government—but the fee structure has increased so dramatically that many people from the local area can no longer afford to attend TAFE.

Western Sydney is undergoing a period of massive expansion and growth. We need to maximise this growth for the benefit of the residents of Prospect and other parts of Western Sydney. With the massive potential population growth in the next few years, about 190,000 new homes will be necessary in Western Sydney over the next 20 years. If we are to capitalise on Western Sydney's future we must ensure that the State Government is investing in our central services and not cutting them. How will the area become a better place to live if there has been a complete destruction of TAFE, for example, when we cannot get our young people into these important places so they can get important jobs? How will growth in the area fit in the context of the Liberals' cuts to our schools and hospitals? Labor has a plan to reinvest in our important services—our schools, hospitals and TAFE—and to support local businesses. The expansion of Western Sydney must come with an improvement in local services and support for local businesses to support job growth and drive the Western Sydney economy.

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