PRIVATE MEMBER'S STATEMENT - Thornton Precinct

Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland) I am pleased to update the House on a meeting that I held on 23 May in my electorate of Maitland about the Thornton traffic precinct. I have raised this issue on a number of occasions with the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads and I have also been raising it through the media as a result of many people in my community raising their concerns and with what is going on there. To put it in a nutshell, you really just need to know two numbers. The first is 167 because it is $167 million that the people in the 2322 postcode have sent down to the New South Wales Treasury coffers in stamp duty in one year—2017-18. The second number you need to know is 51 million. That is what the council asked the Government to give back through the funding processes to repair and upgrade the infrastructure that enables those people to live in that locality. Now, $167 million in one year for any suburb in stamp duty is just incredible. That year it was second only to the Sydney CBD. In most years most suburbs would probably spend a maximum of $20 million to $40 million on stamp duty. It is an extraordinarily high level of growth. It is one indicator of the growth in that electorate. Those are the numbers.


But what is the reality for the people who are living in this situation? I asked people at this meeting to share with me the impact on their lives of this congestion that they are experiencing. One person in the meeting said that they moved to the electorate of Maitland 17 years ago for a quiet time. It used to take them 35 minutes to travel to see their doctor in Newcastle. Now it takes them one hour and 30 minutes as a result of congestion. Many of the intersections are not fit for purpose. Another woman talked about trying to get her children into child care because when she is delayed in traffic and late to pick up her children there are significant late fees to pay, so as a casual worker, for every half-hour that she stays back at work she is actually being penalised more than she is being paid.


Casual workers travel to Wallsend—the electorate just next door—taking an hour and 15 minutes. It takes 40 minutes to get out of the suburb. Up until a couple of years ago this journey took three to five minutes. It is just ridiculous. The whole trip is a 20-kilometre trip. Imagine taking an hour and 15 minutes to travel 20 kilometres in a regional area in New South Wales. If people cannot get to work, they cannot get paid. People have told me that it is taking them two hours and 10 minutes to get from Newcastle to Thornton. There is only one bridge in Thornton. . It is a tiny little bridge. Back in 2009, before the former member for Maitland was elected to this place, she said it must be duplicated before any more housing could be approved. What has happened since then? In 2012, when she was the for Maitland, that cap was removed so that more and more developments are going in there. The Thornton precinct is one of the fastest-growing areas in the State; traffic is being pushed through the eye of a needle.


The Labor Government started the duplication back in 2010, but in 10 years this Government has failed to complete it. People are blaming the council. It is this State Government that should be wearing the responsibility for that—10 years and not one cent. I have put together a graphic, which shows the major upgrades to Maitland State roads in the 10 years to 2011 by NSW Labor: Metford Underpass, $12.9 million; Weakleys Drive Overpass, $51.8 million; Thornton Rail Bridge, $12 million; 3rd River Crossing, $65 million; Hunter Expressway, $200 million—$341 million in less than 10 years. It also shows the Liberals' last 10 years: Maitland Railway half a roundabout, $51 million; Tocal Road $1.2 million; Weakleys Drive Lights, $14 million; New England Highway duplication, $14 million; Testers Hollow, $2 million—$82 million. It is a disgrace. Fix our roads.