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Funding for the Wakehurst Parkway

I rise to express my deep frustration and my anger on behalf of the people of Mackellar. We have a major arterial road in my electorate, the Wakehurst Parkway, that has been a cause of deep anger and frustration for the people of Mackellar for at least a couple of decades now. To put it mildly, we are fed up with the lack of action from successive governments, both state and federal, Liberal and Labor, that has happened repeatedly over decades. Our repeated calls and pleas by our community for this road to be upgraded have been ignored over and over again—firstly as a safe Liberal seat, and now because the Labor Party understands that this seat, in all likelihood, will never be one of theirs. We are not a priority. We are angry and we are fed up. Lives are at risk.

The northern part of the Northern Beaches is a narrow peninsula, so there are only a couple of options to commute to the city. For thousands, the Wakehurst Parkway is the only direct route to the city, Chatswood and the local hospital. This road winds its way through a forested valley. It crosses a river, and it is one lane each way and extremely narrow and dangerous in parts. Lives have been lost on this road.

This road is critical to the people of the Northern Beaches for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a major artery for commuters to the city and to other urban areas. It is typically very congested during peak hour times, and it is used by thousands of people to get to work during the week and to get to sports on the weekend. Secondly, and probably most importantly, it is the direct route that leads to the Northern Beaches Hospital. To go an alternate way would add at least 30 minutes to a trip. Thirdly, the New South Wales academy of sport is located halfway along this road and there is no other access to this sporting precinct other than by the Wakehurst Parkway. This is where athletes and teams, many elite, of all persuasions, train daily. It is their only access to the track, the swimming pool, the hockey fields, the football fields, the sport and rec camps, the head offices, the specialist sports medicine and physio facilities and the gym, amongst other things. Little Athletics is held there every Saturday. So it is entirely unacceptable that this road is closed due to flooding, on average, six to seven times a year—and sometimes for days on end. Again, lives are at risk because people's trips to the hospital are being extended in an untimely way.

The $75 million the federal government promised during the previous term, prior to the election, was cancelled in the last budget, in October last year. I have spoken to the minister for infrastructure twice in person now about this issue, to explain the urgency that is required to act on this road as it has been neglected for so long. I have also met with the New South Wales state minister and roads minister and shadow roads minister to explain the situation and request further funding to rectify the flooding issue. The New South Wales state government has allocated $75 million but that money has been allocated for other road safety issues on this road and will not be provided for flood mitigation. The council have offered to work on the land that is adjacent to the road, which is council land, to do flood mitigation work on that area, but they have a $13 million shortfall to be able to perform something which is acceptable to the community and doesn't destroy too much of the environment. A mere $13 million to reduce the flooding risk from six to seven times a year to just once or twice every two years—a massive difference for a small amount of money. It would otherwise cost over $600 million to raise the road. I say to you: this is something that is very worthwhile for the minimum amount of money.

Infrastructure Australia has recognised that this is a priority issue because it is for building resilience to climate change and because it is a major access road to the hospital. How many more lives must be lost for this government to act on what is a very important road in our community. And as I have said, people have been upset, frustrated and angry about this and the lack of action on it for decades. Thank you.