DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
I rise today to raise a very important quality-of-life issue for local residents in my electorate—namely, accessibility to public transport and, specifically, commuter parking at local train stations. This is one of the single biggest issues raised with me as the local member. I constantly hear accounts of residents who are affected by the chronic lack of parking in our area, particularly at Schofields and Quakers Hill train stations.
It has become a fact of life for public transport commuters in North-West Sydney that they face a daily struggle every morning just trying to find a parking spot. That's before they even board a train to begin their commute, most often to the city, which is about an hour away. We have hundreds of thousands of new homes going into our region and, with an even larger population that needs to commute, it's abundantly clear that we desperately need more parking. Without safe and accessible train stations, and when commuters are parking literally in the next suburb to access their local station or even catching an Uber from where they do park their car to the station, it's understandable that frustrated residents take to the roads.
The current parking situation is a strong disincentive for local residents to use public transport. To add insult to injury, the state Liberal government is locking in a massive toll on Western Sydney drivers with the toll being reintroduced on the M4. This is a toll on hardworking commuters. And, when commuters decide to try and use public transport instead, what do they have? They simply can't find a parking spot at their train station.
I am continuing to lobby the New South Wales government to take meaningful steps to address this pressing issue. If no serious action is taken and taken urgently, this problem is only going to worsen. A New South Wales parliamentary committee is currently conducting an inquiry into commuter car parking across New South Wales. I made a submission to this committee based on the feedback provided to me by local constituents. Numerous residents from my electorate have also made submissions in order to send a clear message to the New South Wales government about the serious lack of parking at our local train stations. In fact, from the submissions gathered thus far that I've seen, it appears that almost half of all submissions from the whole of New South Wales to this inquiry have actually originated from my electorate. I would not be surprised if a significant number of the remaining submissions also originate from my local area because this is a fundamental issue which goes to the quality of life of everyone using public transport in Greenway.
The failure to meet growth with infrastructure and services is one of the biggest failures of this Liberal government in New South Wales, and the state Liberal member for Riverstone is missing in action on this important issue. He promised 60 additional spaces at Schofields station in 2016, yet residents are still waiting for work to begin on that project. That's not to mention the fact that these 60 spots will go nowhere near addressing the chronic shortage of parking at Schofields station. You are seriously lucky to get a parking spot after 7 am on any given weekday.
In the suburbs of Schofields, Riverstone and The Ponds, we are seeing rapid development. In an area that was once farmland and agricultural plots, we now see large housing estates taking form. We have thousands of new families coming into the area. Precious little is being done to provide adequate infrastructure and community services for residents in terms of public transport. Populations will continue to grow and, without action on commuter parking at our train stations, this problem will only deteriorate. For this reason, we have to take a holistic approach and be innovative in how we use technology in addition to our infrastructure spending to improve commuter parking. In practical terms, this could mean using connectivity, sensors, data and smartphone apps to help improve parking options. To give an example, in Manuka, just five minutes from here, smart-parking sensors are being trialled. The real-time data feeds into Canberra parking availability apps that allow consumers to see where parking spaces are free nearby.
These ideas might sound unremarkable, but even modest improvements can have a very significant impact. Unfortunately, what we've seen from both federal and state Liberal governments is just lip-service to making cities smarter and more liveable. We see the media releases, the glitzy forums and the hype, but we barely see any outcomes of substance on the ground and barely anything for those commuters trying to get a park each day. This is simply not good enough.
For residents of Greenway, I know that the lack of parking means less personal and family time. I know that from personal experience. I am committed to making sure families and communities in my area have better access to commuter-parking options. That's why, prior to the last election, myself and the shadow minister for infrastructure pledged $5 million under a Labor government to kick-off expanded parking at Schofields Station. I'm totally up for working with the New South Wales government if it will only heed the concerns of residents across Greenway and move quickly to increase commuter-parking options for our local residents.