Hansard - Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange

The Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange needs full funding. Construction of the interchange represents a long overdue investment into the transport and economic infrastructure of the Lower Hunter. I am pleased to report that work on stage one section one, which is the on-ground roadwork that commenced in June last year, is progressing well.

However, there is currently no funding for later parts and the loss of this important transport project would be devastating for the Lower Hunter. Until the interchange is built in its entirety, including the Pennant Street Bridge and the rail and bus interchange, the full potential of the works will not be realised. This vital development has been designated a regional priority by Hunter councils, the Hunter Business Chamber, the Property Council, the NRMA, and State and Federal members of Parliament. It would be hard to find anyone in the area who does not describe the project as a regional priority.

The interchange will connect the suburbs of Cardiff and Glendale—the economic heart of Lake Macquarie. The project will provide direct train and bus links to that economic growth area of the city. The project will allow for a significant increase in jobs and continued economic growth in the Glendale and Cardiff areas. Lake Macquarie is already the fourth most populated city in New South Wales. The Glendale-Cardiff area is currently the largest employment zone in the region and is expected to experience an increase of 6,200 jobs and 4,000 dwellings by 2031. Investment in infrastructure such as the interchange is crucial to meet growing demand in the Lower Hunter.

The Glendale retail precinct and the Cardiff industrial area have reached capacity, but further investment is being constrained by this Government's under-investment in public transport and sensible road projects. This is a project that supports local jobs across a number of industries while servicing the growing transport demand of the Lower Hunter area. Once built, the interchange will be a major connection between Glendale and Cardiff, and provide an important regional hub to meet the future transport needs of the Lower Hunter region. Once completed, the project will deliver a strategically important railway station right on the doorstep of the Glendale and Cardiff business areas. New roads, cycleways and a bridge connecting those two economic areas of northern Lake Macquarie will reduce congestion while increasing public transport use and boosting economic activity in the area.

The Government's 2012 Hunter Regional Action Plan, which was part of the NSW 2021 scheme, identified the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange as one of its "priority actions" in transport infrastructure. But this amazing project is at risk. The Lower Hunter transport priorities of the New South Wales Liberals do not extend past Hunter Street. They are willing to waste $350 million on ripping up an existing rail line in the centre of Newcastle but could find only $15 million to contribute to this project that is essential for the growth of the Hunter region. Despite all Hunter councils agreeing that it was the number one infrastructure priority when this Government came to office, it has failed to deliver the funding necessary to complete the project.

In a couple of short weeks the City of Lake Macquarie will host the International Children's Games. I am lucky to represent a regional city that can draw such global events, but the transport infrastructure must be improved to match the quality and quantity of events that draw thousands of spectators to the city. The interchange project has been many years in the making. I must acknowledge the years of work by Lake Macquarie City Council as well as the member for Lake Macquarie, the member for Wallsend and the previous and current Federal members for Charlton. Their ongoing contributions have helped secure the existing funding for this essential piece of economic and social infrastructure for the Hunter.

Funding commitments so far are $10 million from Lake Macquarie City Council, $15 million from the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund and $12.45 million from Regional Development Australia Fund. As I mentioned, that commitment will fund the roadwork connecting Glendale Drive, Main Road and Stockland Drive as well as a connection in readiness for the Pennant Street Bridge. It does not fund the bridge itself or the rail and bus interchange. Lake Macquarie City Council has been more than willing to lead this project and build the roadworks because it knows that the entire interchange is essential to the growth of the Hunter region. Other spheres of government must make a full commitment, including this Government, to ensure the project is delivered and the potential of the Hunter is realised.