My speech on the Government gutting the GreenWay
The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [6.33 p.m.]: Tonight I speak about the failure of the Government to listen to the community and fund a grassroots community initiative that would have provided health and environmental benefits for the community of Sydney's inner west. Last weekend about 200 people turned out to support a community protest in aid of the GreenWay corridor extension from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill. GreenWays are linear parks or corridors of protected open space. The inner west GreenWay corridor would provide a safe cycling route connecting Cooks River in Dulwich Hill with Sydney Harbour at Iron Cove in Leichhardt. It would include the disused Rozelle-Dulwich Hill goods railway corridor and the Hawthorne Canal valley. Following the announcement by Labor that light rail would be extended from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill, local residents, community group Friends of the GreenWay and local councils worked together to lobby for the GreenWay—a walking and cycling path together with a number of bushcare sites—to be included in the scope of the light rail project.
In July last year the Labor Government announced that the GreenWay would be included in the light rail extension project. It was a win for the community and a win for Sydney, with the first environmentally sustainable, integrated transport corridor providing an active transport alternative for the community. But the new transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has now deferred the GreenWay without a single mention on a single line of the budget papers. The Government is all talk and no action on light rail. It has made much of its light rail revolution and has spent plenty of time talking about feasibility studies but it has committed only $103 million to expand light rail, with the funding going to the inner west light rail. What about the GreenWay? It has been deferred. Work on the light rail extension has begun already, including replacing the ballast, sleepers and rail track to ensure a reliable, safe and comfortable light rail passenger service. The proposed GreenWay corridor is integrated with the light rail. Surely it makes more sense to build both those projects together.
The inner west GreenWay is a grassroots community vision to provide a tree-lined cycling and walking trail and wildlife corridor linking the sub-catchments of two of Sydney's most important waterways. The proposed GreenWay could provide safe and pleasant walking and cycling to schools, shops and parks in the area; access to popular pathways and open space at Cooks River and the Bay Run; a ribbon of native vegetation between the two waterways with fewer weeds; safe crossings under busy roads such as Parramatta and New Canterbury roads; and a model for better coordination of environmental initiatives in the catchment areas surrounding the corridor. This GreenWay corridor is unique and includes five kilometres of waterways, two kilometres of harbour foreshore and three kilometres of riverbank. It also includes six established bushcare sites, with six more starting soon and another 20 on the way. It has 25,000 mature trees, 20,000 square metres of recreated turpentine-ironbark bush habitat and roughly 500 hectares of urban habitat. Further, 25 schools and educational centres, including three high schools, are located along the route, as well as 20 large parks and numerous pocket parks, two swimming centres, three bowls clubs and a golf course.
The GreenWay would connect the community to all these resources in an environmentally sustainable way and provide a safe route to schools, parks and community facilities. The GreenWay is a blueprint for active transport integrated with public transport. It would also provide urban bushland regeneration and preservation zones, allow for natural habitats in a densely populated suburban location and provide a green corridor for animals to migrate between isolated pockets of natural habitat within the city. Yet this Government has chosen to defer the GreenWay. We do not know whether it will ever be built. This Government makes extraordinary claims that public transport fares will be forced to rise because of the carbon tax, yet it shows no vision in supporting an eco-friendly addition to public transport.
The GreenWay Project has been worked on for more than 10 years. It has the support of local residents, councils, environmental groups and campaigners to incorporate it into the development of the light rail network corridor. It also is supported by the New South Wales Environmental Trust and Sydney Water and previously Transport New South Wales and RailCorp. That support has obviously been pulled by the incoming Government, which has decided that the GreenWay Project is not worth it. I ask the Government: Why will it not fund this initiative now? Why will it not give the community an answer? Deferring the project is not an answer.
The Government must commit to the GreenWay and build it now.