Toongabbie Railway Station Lifts

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT ( Prospect ) ( 12:39 ): I move:

That this House:

(1)Notes that Toongabbie railway station does not have lifts.

(2)Notes that the Government has not constructed lifts, a new station concourse and footbridge, new stairs and platform canopies, and family accessible toilets at Toongabbie station in its previous term.

(3)Notes that the large number of young mothers with prams, aged and disabled people who use this station struggle with access to public transport.

(4)Notes that the Government has failed to allocate specific funding to install lifts at Toongabbie railway station.

(5)Urges the Minister for Transport to fund lifts at Toongabbie railway station.

Once again I raise the issue of Toongabbie railway station. The notice of motion talks about many important things that the people of Prospect, Seven Hills and surrounding areas have to deal with. I am thankful that after all the promises the Government has made it has finally started work at Pendle Hill train station. However, the budget does not mention that lifts or major upgrades are scheduled for Toongabbie railway station. The budget speaks about money being spent on projects for the Toongabbie line, which is great, but commuters living in Prospect and Toongabbie need to know when there will be lifts at this station. Toongabbie was one of first settlements in Sydney and the station has been around for 136 years. It has had a link on the rail system since that time. Throughout the 2011 and 2015 election campaigns the O'Farrell Government promised that lifts would be built at Toongabbie station, but that has not happened. Once again, this Government has broken its election promises.

No funding has been allocated for construction of the lifts. All we need from this Government is a commitment to allocate money for the work and a proposed start date. In April 2016 Transport for NSW commenced action on Toongabbie station after a strong campaign by local residents as well as strong representation in this House that lifts be provided. However, all that has happened is the consultation process. I raised this issue in Parliament last year and I remember having a discussion with the member for Castle Hill, Ray Williams, who suggested that struggling commuters could catch a taxi to Westmead station or Seven Hills at an average cost of $21.15. I note that the member for Seven Hills has entered the Chamber. He is also concerned that there are no lifts at Toongabbie station. Commuters will soon be slugged with an extra $959 a year fare hike—or 48 per cent—for using the train. As many members know, this is strongly opposed by Labor and the local community. The average income in Toongabbie is $608 per week so having an extra $959 in fares is a huge hit. Direct mail was sent out by my office to residents and we received a strong response. It was clear that the community is angry with the Baird Government for prioritising North Shore stations and upgrades ahead of Toongabbie.

Mr Mark Coure: That is not true.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I do not think the member for Oatley read the letters; I know what the residents said. Transport for NSW is currently working on stage two of a five-stage plan to upgrade Toongabbie station. Three of the five stages are about receiving and reviewing submissions. We have been arguing since 2011 that this station needs lifts and a major upgrade. It must be done. A document prepared by Transport for NSW entitled "Toongabbie Station Upgrade Review of Environmental Factors" claims that construction will commence in late 2016. I commend the Government if that is the case, but no dates for construction have been mentioned. I have asked the Minister and other members of the Government constantly when construction will start. The submission stage is needlessly long. We know what has to happen at Toongabbie station just as we knew what had to happen at Pendle Hill station, but at least work has now started at Pendle Hill. The Baird Government appears to be stalling construction until the next budget, at which time there might be some funding allocated. By the time the Toongabbie station upgrade is complete—if it is completed—the O'Farrell-Baird Government will have been working on it for eight years. It is clear that Toongabbie was always a low priority for the Liberal Government and it is no wonder it keeps losing elections in Toongabbie.

Ms Tanya Davies: What did you do for 16 years in Government?

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: We completed upgrades and spent more money than this Government has. Members opposite can throw their spears and try to pretend we did not do anything, but we did and we did not have to flog off all of our assets to do it. We all know this Government will flog off all our assets and the money it receives. The only way it will be able to upgrade the infrastructure it is building now is if it raises taxes or finds other means. Crumbling infrastructure is the future of New South Wales because of this Liberal Government. The people of Toongabbie need access to adequate transport around the clock because, unlike the belief of the Baird Government, the majority do not have desk jobs in Martin Place. The people of Toongabbie work in health care, manufacturing, retail, construction and trades. Those industries often involve using public transport to travel to all corners of Sydney.

Hardworking parents with young children, who make up to 15 per cent of Toongabbie's population, also need lifts. Toongabbie is home to nearly 1,000 young children under the age of four who cannot walk over more than 100 metres up ramps and their parents cannot keep lifting prams and strollers over stairs. They need lifts. Toongabbie is also home to many elderly people who often are refugees who are rebuilding their lives. Approximately 11 per cent of the Toongabbie population—1,500 people—are over 65. They need lifts. The lifts must be built quickly if these people are to maintain any hope of independence.

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