Ms JO HAYLEN (Summer Hill) (12:44): I speak on the Transport Administration Amendment (RMS Dissolution) Bill 2019. This bill provides a legislative framework to integrate Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] into a consolidated transport authority. Schedule 1 dissolves RMS and transfers its functions, assets, rights and liabilities to Transport for NSW. As outlined in the Minister's second reading speech, schedule 2 makes consequential amendments that give effect to the dissolution of RMS in the Roads Act 1993 and other transport related regulations. Along with my Labor colleagues I support this bill in principle and acknowledge the potential public policy benefits of a consolidated agency with responsibility for transport and roads in New South Wales.
I hope that this will end a siloed approach that has facilitated the Government's continued obsession with toll roads at the expense of public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. I hope it will see public transport advocates given equal importance, which I note was not the case when the Government excluded public transport options in the business case to justify WestConnex. I hope that this merger will give greater prominence to active transport projects and corridors as championed by residents, organisations and indeed the Great Sydney Commission. I hope it will mean genuine consultation is finally given to how we may retrofit our suburbs to improve walkability and transport access. And I hope it will mean we design greenfield developments in ways that increase public transport.
Since being elected the member for Summer Hill in 2015, I have worked with countless residents to oppose and mitigate the very worst of this Government's WestConnex project. The project has been an unmitigated disaster for so many inner west residents, particularly those in Haberfield, Ashfield and St Peters. In this place I have regularly raised issues such as unfair property acquisitions, the levelling of irreplaceable Federation homes, construction chaos, rat-running, as well as significant health concerns—including air pollution and asbestos management in the construction phase—raised by residents who are living right next to the construction of this project. Despite its impacts, the Government has continued to add more and more arms to this tollway—despite clear evidence that public transport would better serve our growing city.
Labor has consistently argued that the discount rate formula applied to infrastructure cost-benefit analysis needs to change. The Grattan Institute reports that slashing the current 7 per cent rate would increase the attractiveness of rail and public transport projects. It has been also been revealed that public transport options were excluded when considering the business case for WestConnex. That is as clear an indication as you can get that the Government's interests tend to lie with roads over rail or other public transport. In her testimony to the parliamentary inquiry into WestConnex, Dr Michelle Zeibots, a transport expert from the University of Technology Sydney said:
… I believe that many people within TfNSW at that time as well as the Minister did comprehend the need to improve public transport, but were 'out manoeuvred' by others in their political party who preferred urban motorway development. That these same people do not rely on empirical data or a strong 'evidence base' when formulating their positions is evident in the stark difference between the material outcomes that have been achieved by these motorways and the 'beliefs and ideals' expressed before construction that were used to justify them.
While the M4 East tunnels opened a few weeks ago, we have still not seen the two lanes of dedicated rapid transit that the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces promised in his conditions of consent to the project. Reports suggesting that the Government is now looking to push the promise out by potentially five years—but in fact there is no set timetable—and to suggest that we will satisfy those conditions of the consent with a rail project that will not be built for years is frankly unbelievable and betrays the communities along Parramatta Road. I call on the Minister to deliver on his promise and on his conditions of consent and to deliver that public transport along Parramatta Road. The community is right to look at the Government's track record when it comes to the bill before us—the consolidation of RMS and Transport for NSW. The community does not accept and nor indeed do those of us on this side of the House accept an arrangement that sees much-needed transport priorities for our city and our State consumed instead with an ideological obsession with toll roads.
This bill was first proposed in conjunction with budget bills but it has been delayed as a result of pressure on the Government to properly engage with the affected workers and the unions that represent them. The merger impacts countless workers across the transport and road industries and, as flagged by the shadow Minister the member for Kogarah, there are a number of very reasonable expectations that must be met for those workers.
I will highlight those four expectations. The first is that a no net detriment principle applies and that any disagreement be referred to the Industrial Relations Commission [IRC]. The second is that there be no forced redundancies for a period of four years and that no privatisations be considered in that time. The third is that the Government extend its "no regional job loss" commitment to Wollongong, Newcastle, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains. The fourth is that the Government commit to maintaining key conditions in the RMS awards. Let us be clear: Industrial matters are very important to these workers. Their expectations are reasonable and the level of concern is understandable.
The Government has privatised Sydney ferries, Newcastle buses and inner west buses and there are rumours that more privatisation of bus services is to come. The Minister has made it clear on a number of occasions, including in his second reading speech on this bill, that he sees the future of transportation in New South Wales as fully automated. It is understandable that that causes a level of distress for the workers within the industry. In fact, the Minister noted that a move to full automation was one of the pressing needs for this bill.
Last monthThe Sydney Morning Herald revealed Transport for NSW's reform program through a series of freedom of information requests. The documents, dated March this year, reveal plans to raise public transport fares; to sell, rezone or develop hundreds of State-owned properties; to overhaul road levies; and "to cut up to $1.9 billion a year from staff costs within 10 years". The Minister needs to make clear that this bill is not about reducing our transport workforce. He needs to make a clear commitment that the jobs of those affected by this merger are safe and clearly indicate that this bill is not about further sell-offs of public transport.
The proposed merger has raised many opportunities and, frankly, many hopes in the community and amongst stakeholders working in and around active transport. For too long the needs of pedestrians and cyclists have been sidelined by RMS in favour of the flow of traffic. Our city is now paying big time for the preferential treatment that is given to cars. Sydney is creaking at the seams. Congestion on our roads is a critical issue affecting workers, families and our economy. I have long argued that active transport is a critical piece of the puzzle in reducing congestion on our roads, improving our health, strengthening communities and reducing carbon emissions.
Improving walkability is a key indicator for the Greater Sydney Commission in its objective to "celebrate diversity and put people at the heart of planning". ItsPulse of Greater Sydney document, released only a few weeks ago, reports that 18 per cent of all trips taken in the Greater Sydney region in 2017‑18 were walking trips. That is not many, so there is plenty of room for improvement. However, when we dig deeper into the data, a different but important story emerges. In the city's eastern district—home to many of our more affluent suburbs—32 per cent of all trips were walking trips. The walking rate in the central Sydney district stands at 15 per cent; in the western district of the city the figure is a low 10 per cent. [Extension of time]
That means that nine times out of 10 western Sydney residents are getting into their car to go to work, to school or to the shops. Why? What is different for a person who lives in Penrith compared to a person who lives in Paddington? Let us be clear: It is not that one group loves their car or that one group just loves to walk. That is not the case at all. There is a clear discrepancy in the infrastructure available for those who wish to walk or cycle in western Sydney. I am talking about shaded, pleasant and interesting footpaths to walk on or safe, separated cycleways to ride on. In many parts of western Sydney those options are just not available. We are not moving quickly enough to invest properly in that infrastructure to make connected, walkable suburbs, particularly in greenfield developments. So many of our suburbs are built for cars, with twisting cul-de-sacs that privilege driving and literally put up walls to walking.
We need to focus on policies that make walking and cycling real options for everyone across Greater Sydney. For example, how can we make travelling to and from school by foot or by bike safer for kids, including fixing the ridiculous formula that is currently used to allocate crossing guards and pedestrian crossings around schools? How can we re‑conceive our roads to give greater access and prominence to pedestrians and cyclists, including amending the hierarchies of our roads to give greater prominence to active transport corridors? When investing in big ticket transport infrastructure, what opportunities are we missing to include alternative modes of active transport? What innovations can change the way we move in the future, including the uptake of electronic bikes, scooters and skateboards?
Many active transport stakeholders have reported to me that they are hopeful that this bill will provide a new platform and greater prominence for active transport solutions. I am an optimist but the Government's record on active transport demands scrutiny. Since coming to power in 2011 the Government has declared a war on cyclists. It has ripped up cycleways and increased fines on cyclists. The Government also contemplated forcing cyclists, including children, to have a licence and to register their bikes. The Government talks a very big game on active transport but still we see only a very small proportion of the budget spent on active transport. Of the $15.1 billion allocated to new transport capital expenditure in the most recent budget, only 0.38 per cent, or $57 million, will be invested in new walking and cycling infrastructure projects. That is very little when we consider that every one of us is an active transport user, every one of us walks daily.
In comparison, in its publicationGlobal Outlook on Walking and Cycling the United Nations recommends that governments should spend 20 per cent of their total transport budget on non‑motorised and active transport. That is 20 per cent versus 0.38 per cent. Despite big promises in the New South Wales election, we are still waiting to see the money from this Government flow to some of the projects it promised, including, for example, the inner west GreenWay, which has been delayed by years due to delays in approvals from Sydney Trains. Similarly, the Eastern Suburbs cycleway has been tied up in red tape and awaiting approvals. The Minister has been silent on the Sydney Cycle Network and the flagged trials of electronic scooters have been on again/off again and the Government does not seem to have a solution in sight. A lot of money was promised but those projects have been held up and have not progressed. As a result, we are all losing out. I remind the House that every one of us partakes in active transport every day. We must make those options real options for everyone across Greater Sydney. I hope that this bill will reform the siloed approach we have seen so far and will support active transport as a real option for Sydney.