Friday 30 January 2015

Stop the six-lane M5 East tunnel destroying our area

The Liberal Government’s proposed Road Interchange at St Peters – part of the WestConnex proposal will put tens of thousands of extra vehicles and heavy vehicles on our streets.

In November last year, Liberal Premier Mike Baird and his close political associate Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to St Peters and announced the new six-lane M5 East tunnels will emerge at St Peters around Campbell Street.

Two years ago, when the WestConnex project was announced, I called it "A $10 billion lemon". It has now become a $20 billion "lemon". Nowhere in the WestConnex proposal are there any realistic costings (or any costings at all), there is no modelling, there are no plans and those proposing it don’t even know the route.

The NSW Auditor-General himself has said he was not sure “whether the project is a worthwhile and prudent investment for the NSW government”.

Having lost the battle to take over Tempe Reserve and Tempe Wetlands, the Liberals are now proposing the most outrageous of all proposals – a Road Interchange in St Peters, seizing part of Sydney Park and resuming people’s homes. Everyone’s property values will be impacted.

I’ve repeatedly raised this issue in Parliament and I’ve been in direct touch with residents, via letters, newsletters, and street meetings. The glib response by Premier Mike Baird has been “short term pain for long term gain” – that’s just insulting to those who live in the affected area.

With massive increases in population, our roads are already gridlocked heavy and dangerous vehicles travelling our narrow streets and a shortage of open space. It’s a nightmare.

To prevent this disaster you can help by signing my petition to present to the NSW Parliament. You can do that by either going on line and completing the online petition at

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Labor to build better learning spaces for our kids

Around 100,000 students will be returning to demountable classrooms on the first day of school today – compromising the learning environment of one in ten NSW public school students.

Today outlined Labor’s plan to provide permanent classrooms for the thousands of students currently learning in demountables in my electorate

A Labor Government will dedicate an additional $100 million to replace demountable classrooms across NSW with permanent, air-conditioned classrooms - to give our students the world-class facilities they deserve.

We must provide the best possible learning environment, including modern and permanent classrooms, to ensure our kids get the best education and start in life.

But today around 100,000 students will be going back to school in demountable classrooms – a legacy of the Liberals failure to invest in our schools over the last four years. 

Demountables were always meant to be a temporary fix – but students in my electorate like Tempe High School have been stuck in demountables for years.

The Liberals bundled Labor’s Demountable Replacement Program into the wider school capital works budget – and then tore away $280 million. Under this Government, thousands of students have been left in demountables with little prospect of being replaced with permanent, modern classrooms.

Under a Labor Government, the schools with the oldest and highest number of demountables will receive priority through Labor’s additional $100 million in funding.

Education is the number one priority for Labor, and our school facilities should reflect that. Labor will invest in modern, permanent classrooms to give our kids the best education possible and replace the existing ageing, substandard facilities.

Today’s funding announcement is just the first part of Labor’s policy of better planning and investment in our schools – taking a long-term view of our schooling needs to ensure our kids have the best educational opportunities.

Key Facts:
  • There are around 4,500 demountable classrooms in NSW (ten per cent of all teaching spaces) that are used by around 100,000 students. Over 1,000 of these classrooms have been at the same school for at least 10 years. 
  • The previous Labor Government had a Demountable Replacement Program – but the Liberals rolled this into the school capital works budget, and then cut that budget by $280 million.
  • Labor will allocate $100 million over 10 years – in addition to the existing capital works budget – to replace temporary demountable classrooms, libraries and administrative facilities.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Wishing you all a Happy Australia Day

Australia Day might be the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson and the raising of the British Flag by Captain Arthur Phillip, but it is more than that. It is Australia's celebration of our success as a free nation. It is a celebration of our values of a fair go for all, tolerance, understanding and our insistence upon freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom of political communication amongst others. It celebrates our unity and growth as a nation whilst at the same time it recognises our failures particularly our treatment of the "Traditional Owners" of Australia from 1788 to the present day. Enjoy the day and I wish you a Happy Australia Day.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Labor will enact laws to protect our Local Newsagents

A NSW Labor Government will enact laws to enshrine local newsagents as the primary distribution agents for NSW Lotteries – protecting this vital sector from financial hardship and potential closures.

Around 1,500 newsagents and other small businesses including those located in the NAME region will face financial hardship and possible closure when the current Agency Protection Period expires in April.

The proposed new franchise agreement includes increasing the number of agents in the distribution network and allowing big businesses, such as the major supermarket chains, into the network; not providing any geographic or other form of exclusivity to the lottery agent; imposing expensive fit-out requirements on all lottery agents costing up to $25,000; and the sweeping of lottery agent bank accounts on multiple occasions per week, seriously disrupting cash flows.

Labor’s plan to protect local newsagents includes:
  1. Enacting laws that preserve the current agency protections, until such time as the parties reach agreement on new terms;
  2. Continuing to restrict outlets selling lottery products to newsagencies and other small businesses; and
  3. Working with local newsagents and the private operator to ensure a sensible commercial arrangement is established that is fair to all parties. 
Local newsagents are the lifeblood of our town centres and shopping villages but their future is at risk if a fair agreement is not negotiated for the distribution of lottery products.

Newsagents provide vital community services and have been the training ground for thousands of young people for many years to get their first job experience – that deserves to be protected.

Income from lotteries is around 40 per cent of turnover in a local newsagency and can reach as high as 90 per cent – any loss of that business would place our local newsagents in financial jeopardy.

Over the last few months, I’ve been visiting local newsagents and listening to their concerns that their future is bleak if action is not taken to protect them. 

A Labor Government will take action and put in place laws that will ensure that local newsagent remain the primary distributor for NSW lotteries.

The agency protection period that is due to expire in April would be extended until the parties concerned can sit down and hammer out a fair agreement that allows the private operator to grow the business but retains newsagents as the primary distributor.

I’m calling on the Liberals to stand up for our small businesses and demand that the Baird Liberal Government commit to match Labor’s policy to protect local newsagents.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Massive Overdevelopment in Kensington & Kingsford stopped

For more than a year I have campaigning to stop the Liberal Government's "Urban Activation" policies which would have seen 20 story buildings constructed throughout Kensington and Kingsford.

Within the shadow of a state election the NSW Liberal government announced to the media that they have "dumped" their "high-rise development plans" for Kensington and Kingsford.

If the plans had succeeded, the effect on our community and our way of life would have been catastrophic. The Liberals had claimbed "Urban Activation Precincts" would deliver more homes in places with access to infrastructure, transport, services and jobs. Sounds good but it was never the case. The dream would have been our nightmare.

Our roads are already gridlocked, our schools are full and hospitals are under pressure with funding cuts and ward and bid closures. The massive high-rise apartments will overshadow our homes, blocked the daylight and invaded our privacy.

Working together we have stopped this outrageous proposal now – but we need to remain vigilant. The Liberals keep talking about Sydney having to accommodate 1.3 million people by 2031. Maybe they should look in their own backyards in the North Shore instead of in our community.

The only way we as a community can keep massive overdevelopment out of our area is to remain vigilant. I believe this has only gone away because of the election in March. Their future plans, if the Liberals are re-elected, are buried away in their recently released Metropolitan Strategy.

Kingsford Smith Airport curfew will always be under threat by the Liberals

It was only a little over six months ago that many in the community in my electorate and surrounding electorates were stunned  when the then NSW Deputy Premier said that the NSW coalition government would "vigourously" seek to increase the number of flights into Sydney airport and lift the curfew that is currently protecting the limited piece locals currently experience.

The community was outraged and thousands of people joined in my petition which called upon the NSW Government to maintain and  protect the curfew and the cap. The petition was presented to Parliament. The Liberal Minister for Transport meekly responded to my constituents outrage with just one line: "the matter raised falls within the jurisdiction of the Australian Government". What a contemptible response.

All of us might ask why the then Deputy Premier made statements to the media in the first place saying that he would be "vigourously lobbying of the Commonwealth" and "personally urging" his federal colleagues to change the restrictions on the curfew and cap.

The reality is that the Liberal's have exposed themselves and their ambitions with Sydney Airport. They care not about the limited amount of peace we receive from the curfew and cap.

Curfews are common place around the world and we are not going to give up ours with a fight.