31 March 2022

Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (18:19): My electorate of the Blue Mountains is World Heritage listed and renowned for its beautiful landscape, remarkable wilderness and misty mountains. Recently, my community has seen irreparable damage to our roads and rail line, destruction of houses, sinkholes and landslips that have caused ongoing transport disruptions, and a government that has continuously chosen to neglect our community in times of disaster. Blue Mountains residents have had enough. They deserve better than a government that, other than bandaid measures, will not conduct road maintenance or a safety audit on the entirety of the Great Western Highway. They deserve better than a Liberal Government that uses scare tactics to terrify Blackheath residents into thinking that they will have to give up their homes in order to make way for a tunnel that will destroy the integrity of the Blue Mountains villages.

Residents outside the Blue Mountains electorate have had enough as well. Some local residents from Hartley and Lithgow have come to me because they feel their concerns about the Great Western Highway duplication project are not being heard by their elected representative, Paul Toole. Isn't it his job to listen to the concerns of his communities and advocate on their behalf? I will reiterate: Residents in Minister Toole's electorate have gone elsewhere for help because their elected representative has failed them. The supposed highway duplication project has no regard for safety or the tourism industry and does not care for the residents in the areas affected. Let us not forget about the tolls that will be slapped on at some point in the future.

This is not the first time the Government has failed the Blue Mountains community. I am pleased and relieved that Sam Farraway, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, finally agreed to my requests for information about the rectification works on the Great Western Highway. Before Minister Farraway and I sat down face to face last week, I was stonewalled when I sought information to provide to my electorate on rail and road chaos—for example, on how long the single lane would remain through Mount Victoria, creating havoc, congestions, delays and utter fury. This is unacceptable. I have said before that the constant mismanagement and bungling of road and public transport issues must come to an end, but it looks like the Government is dedicated to letting the people of New South Wales down. Many of my constituents have written to me about their experiences with the recent mayhem of flooding on the Great Western "Goat Track" and the lack of available public transport. I put on record some of their experiences.

Charlotte writes:

I went up the mountains last weekend to visit my family and it was a nightmare to navigate the buses. The Government has completely abandoned the mountains again.

Alison writes:

Today my eldest daughter is traveling 5 hours to go to a one hour compulsory class at university. It is ridiculous. Planning for these situations and conducting regular maintenance has not happened as it should.

Dean writes:

Those of us that work in the hospital are highly concerned. How do our colleagues get to/from work over the weekend to care for the patients and how do emergency services/ambulances get critical care patients to hospital?

Brianna writes:

I wish the government would stop putting a band aid on something that is clearly broken.

James writes:

I had to cancel a doctor's appointment yesterday, the only time I knew anything about it was when I got to the highway and saw the endless traffic jam. Totally unacceptable.

The roads and rail lines have been neglected for a decade under the Government. They are not new issues. Instead of fixing these problems once and for all, the Government has decided that it will cut corners and deliver a dodgy patchwork job and not a road fit for purpose and the future. The lack of interest for residents' safety concerning the Great Western Highway and surrounding rail lines is astonishing and tragic. We have had fatalities on the highway. You would think that, after a life is lost, the Government would plan necessary upgrades and improvements to prevent it from happening again. That has not been the case. How many lives must we lose before the Government listens and takes action? The resilience that I have seen in the Blue Mountains community has been inspiring. We have endured bushfires, floods, a pandemic and multiple lockdowns—not to mention this sham of a Government.

The Blue Mountains community is strong and, as their elected State representative, I will continue to hear their concerns and fight for them. It is time the Government addresses myriad issues on the Great Western Highway and assists our Blue Mountains City Council to deal with the pot-holed mess, landslips and local roads fallen down the cliff side, while urgently repairing the railway line damage and sinkholes in the Blue Mountains. It is time for the Government to conduct regular road maintenance and safety audits throughout the mountains, particularly now after flooding impacts. It is time for the Liberal Government to explain why it continually chooses to neglect residents in the Blue Mountains. It is time for change.