Cabramatta

Cabramatta is facing another challenge in the coming year. The planned southern Sydney freight line will run right through the middle of the town. It is a very important piece of infrastructure for Sydney and the country. It will help get freight off Sydney’s roads, but it does come at a price for the people of Cabramatta. It will split the town in two, separated by a four-metre noise wall, having a big impact on the community and especially local businesses. Cabramatta is a resilient town. It has been through worse than this, but I think that we as a government and a parliament have an obligation to minimise the impact that this freight line will have on the town of Cabramatta. That is why over the course of the last year I have made representations to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts for a compensation fund for Cabramatta to compensate for the impact that the freight line will have on my local community. The fund would provide support to help the town continue to thrive; it could help provide things like additional car parking. It is something positive that a project like this can do for Cabramatta.

That is what I told the minister for the environment when I led a deputation from Fairfield City Council and the Cabramatta Chamber of Commerce to see him in May and when I organised a site inspection in July. In August this year, Minister Garrett announced that the Australian Rail Track Corporation would be required to fund a $2 million community amenity offset plan as part of the approval for the freight line. The plan is now before the minister for approval. The ARTC has proposed a $2.8 million plan, with $750,000 for parking in Cabramatta.

That is good, but it is not good enough. I would like to see the majority of the fund spent in Cabramatta-and spent on car parking. Whatever the minister approves, there will be more money for parking in Cabramatta, and that is a good thing. Some of the $1.3 million that the federal government has given Fairfield council to fund urgent local community infrastructure should also be spent on car parking in Cabramatta. Car parks are expensive. Just putting one deck on the Fisher Street car park, providing an extra 60 spaces, will cost more than $2 million. Fixing the car parking problem is going to require the support of all levels of government. Fairfield council has to stump up. So does the state government. I know Fairfield council is considering seeking funding from the federal government’s $50 million Strategic Projects Fund. Whether it is through this fund or through future programs, I am keen to work with council and state government. We all have to work together to get more car parking off the ground in Cabramatta to help a thriving little town that needs a bit of help, a town that is getting back on its feet, a town that will be hit hard by a project that will help us all.