17 November 2021
Ms TRISH DOYLE (Blue Mountains) (17:22): I will tell a story of incompetence covering a handful of years. Back in August 2016 I described the Baird Government's decision to build the new intercity fleet overseas as a slap in the face to Australian manufacturing workers. I expressed my fear that the new trains for the Blue Mountains line were off-the-shelf models that "are not designed with local conditions and passenger expectations in mind". At that point the Government awarded a $2.3 billion contract to an overseas consortium to build the new trains in South Korea. Local companies with Australian manufacturing plants tendered for the contract to build the 512 train carriages, but were overlooked by the New South Wales transport Minister. The Liberal Government knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. We have local designers and manufacturing workers with decades of knowledge and expertise who are ready to build high-quality modern trains. At the time I said:
Up to 1200 jobs that should have been created in NSW will never eventuate thanks to Mr Baird.
It's disgraceful that a contract of this size did not mandate local materials and local skills.
A month later—still 2016—I asked questions on notice about the new trains with specific queries about size, length and compatibility with the Blue Mountains platforms and tunnels, but the Minister dismissed those questions with wishy-washy answers. He showed he did not know, and he did not care, what the answers were. He said that the first of the 512 double‑deck train carriages to be rolled off the assembly line in South Korea were expected to begin services at the beginning of 2019. Defending the decision for the carriages to be built in South Korea, the transport Minister said, "In this case the procurement stacks up—it's a 25 per cent saving by going with this consortium." UGL's consortium partners, South Korea's Hyundai Rotem, were given the job to test and commission the carriages. A few months later, transport authorities in the US State of Pennsylvania were forced to temporarily remove from service a third of 360 carriages that Hyundai Rotem was responsible for designing and building. Again, in mid‑2016, I stood here and said:
It is boring me to death, but it beggars belief that the Baird Government is buying trains that are 20 centimetres too wide for the tracks in the Blue Mountains. The trains do not fit the tracks. It would make me sick with anger if it were not so funny.
That sums up the Baird, Berejiklian and Perrottet governments from start to finish. It is a joke, and they are making the people of New South Wales the punchline. The people of western Sydney and beyond deserve better than a transport Minister who does not know how wide his trains are. They deserve an opportunity to work on big projects, such as train manufacturing, but those jobs are being sent offshore to South Korea. What about building the new trains in Lithgow in the Central West? That way they could quickly check the size. I said—and I repeat today:
This hopeless Government could not run a bath, much less the State of New South Wales.
In November 2016 I asked to debate the Baird Government over its intercity train procurement project. I said:
… it has become clear to me and my colleagues that the Minister for Transport is incompetent and that we are hurtling towards a point of no return with a doomed project that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Members opposite like to style themselves as low-spending economic rationalists …
We are being forced to accept low-quality trains built overseas to an off-the-shelf design, with seats that face the wrong way and inefficient winter heating systems. The list goes on …
I sat down and did the homework that Andrew Constance clearly force-fed to his dog and found that the cut-price trains he is buying do not fit the tracks.
In a newspaper article in March 2017 I was reported as saying that I was extremely concerned for the safety of commuters after more and more US cases of critical structural flaws in trains designed by Hyundai Rotem were found and they were taken off the tracks. In 2017 and again today I say that the Labor Party knows that New South Wales train manufacturing workers have the skills, know-how and experience to produce high-quality trains. This Government needs to sack itself and let the manufacturing workers of New South Wales and Labor take over.