Ms JODI McKAY ( Strathfield ) ( 10:13 ): I lead for the Opposition in debate on the Transport Administration Amendment (Sydney Metro) Bill 2018. This bill establishes the Sydney Metro Delivery Office as a standalone transport agency and statutory corporation. In reading the Minister's second reading speech, one would be forgiven for thinking that this was all the bill did, but it does so much more than the Minister has revealed in this House, which is why Labor will oppose this bill.
I listened closely to the Minister's second reading speech but I did not hear the real reason for introducing the bill. He noted that the Sydney Metro Delivery Office has been working successfully as part of Transport for NSW since 2011. Why the need for change? There is one agenda, and one agenda only: privatisation. In his second reading speech the Minister did not say that this agency will be a developer, in that land near a station can be turned into any form of development, including residential high‑rise or retail. He also did not say that this agency will be able to deliver bus services that may not even be connected to the metro. He did not say that the path he is taking is one that follows almost to the letter the path that the Government took to sell off WestConnex and to create the secretive Sydney Motorway Corporation.
The Minister made many exuberant claims about delivering world-class customer-centred transport, but he did not give one credible reason that the delivery office cannot achieve these aims. The majority of the Minister's second reading speech gives no credible indication as to why this bill is required. I encourage everyone to read the second reading speech, which is basically a long-winded brag about the Minister's fabulous achievements as Minister, with very little detail about the contents of the bill. The Opposition and the community are suspicious, and rightly so, because the Government will do anything it can to sell anything it can get its hands on. It has privatised inner west and Newcastle bus services. Chaos ensued when the Minister embarked on the privatisation of bus services in the Hunter region. In a few months time, the Government will flog off WestConnex with a sale of 51 per cent of the Sydney Motorway Corporation.
Under this Government New South Wales is not "Making It Happen"; it is for sale to the highest bidder. That is what this bill is about. The Minister says that the Sydney Metro will be owned by the New South Wales Government but, as I said, there are worrying parallels between the move in this bill to establish a Sydney Metro statutory corporation with the deceptive and underhand way that the Government has managed the development, and now impending sale, of the Sydney Motorway Corporation. I remind the House that before there was the shady secretive Sydney Motorway Corporation, the Government established the WestConnex Delivery Authority to oversee the construction, financing and management of the motorway. The WestConnex Delivery Authority was a public subsidiary corporation within Roads and Maritime Services. Back then the Minister for Roads trumpeted how the WestConnex Delivery Authority board offers "market leading construction finance and engineering capabilities"—in the same the way that, according to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, the Sydney Metro will have an "expertise based board".
The WestConnex Authority board of directors reported directly to the Minister for Roads, just as the new Sydney Metro Board will report to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. In considering the bill, it is important to note that the WestConnex Delivery Authority did not last. It currently does not exist, and I will guarantee that the Sydney Metro will not exist. The Minister is seeking the privatisation of all public transport in this State. The Minister has said that that is his philosophy. Every action he is taking is about privatising public transport.
A year after the Government established the shady and secretive Sydney Motorway Corporation to manage procurement and project delivery functions, it closed the WestConnex Delivery Authority and transferred every single one of the authority's functions to the Sydney Motorway Corporation.
Now, as I said, the Government is finalising the sale of 51 per cent of the Sydney Motorway Corporation. It is effectively privatising the Sydney Motorway Corporation and WestConnex. The Sydney Motorway Corporation is a private company. It is constituted under the Corporations Act so it is not subject to the accountability mechanisms of government, and it is not accountable to freedom of information laws. That is concerning. It means that anyone, including me, who tries to conduct a search on WestConnex under the Government Information (Public Access) Act will meet with a blank wall. This Government has created a secretive organisation that is not accountable to this Parliament. However, shortly we will be debating my private member's bill in this Parliament and that bill seeks to return those accountability mechanisms to the Sydney Motorway Corporation.
Even worse, with the sale of the Sydney Motorway Corporation we are locked into tolling contracts on every stage of the WestConnex until 2060. The Government knows that its privatisation agenda is on the nose. That is why, in his second reading speech, the Minister did not tell the truth about his intention to privatise the Sydney Metro. The Minister will not announce that before the next election, but if the Government is returned to office in March 2019 it will be on the agenda. The Government will do what it has done with the Sydney Motorway Corporation—indeed, with this bill the Government is setting itself up to do exactly that. The Minister has tried to make it appear that the establishment of the Sydney Metro as a statutory corporation is a benign measure and nothing but a necessary step to take the project forward. However, Labor and the community see it for what it is—incremental privatisation. The Government has done it before, it is doing it now and it will do it again.
The Government has already announced that passenger services on the Sydney Metro Northwest will be operated by the private sector. This bill also allows for that. The bill states:
… [the] Sydney Metro may enter into a passenger service contract on behalf of the State for the provision of a metro public passenger service with an accredited operator of a public passenger service or the operator of a public passenger service who is not required to be accredited under this Act.
The bill also contemplates that Sydney Metro may operate other transport services—this was not mentioned in the Minister's second reading speech either, but it is definitely within the detail of the bill. What I find most concerning about this bill is what is not being said by the Minister. Anyone who is listening to this contribution, or reading articles about what this Government is doing with the Sydney Metro, should also read the details of this important bill—it is relatively short—to understand the Government's motivation.
The bill allows for the Sydney Metro to enter into passenger service agreements, including bus services. Why would the Sydney Metro corporation, which this bill seeks to establish, want to operate bus services? The bill states that these bus services do not have to be connected to the operations of the Sydney Metro. This deceitful and appalling inclusion in the bill effectively gives the new Sydney Metro corporation the ability to take over any and all bus services in this State. We all know what Minister Constance is about, because we have seen it with the inner west buses. The Government is seeking to set up a Sydney Metro agency to operate bus services. Bus services have nothing to do with the Sydney Metro, yet in this bill the Minister is ensuring that it will be able to operate bus services—and bus services not connected to the metro. That is what the bill states.
The Minister wants to fatten the pig for market. This is an underhand move by the Government to privatise public bus services—as it has done at Newcastle and in the inner west. If the Government can privatise bus services within the Sydney Metro it will be bigger and better for it to sell off to the private sector. The bill makes it clear that that is what the Government intends to do. Perhaps the Minister could truthfully explain to this House why bus services are being included in a Sydney Metro bill.
Why does this agency need to operate bus services not connected to the Sydney Metro? I mentioned the fattening of the pig for market, and I turn now to another concerning aspect of this bill that, again, the Minister chose not to outline within his second reading speech. The Minister left out information on buses because he knows it is extremely controversial—and it gives away his intention with this bill. The Sydney Metro agency will have the ability to acquire, develop, sell or lease land.
Why does this Sydney Metro authority, this Sydney Metro Board, this statutory corporation need the ability to buy or lease land? It needs it because the Minister is fattening the pig for market. If you buy that land and put it within the statutory corporation—hey presto!—you have a big corporation, a big agency, that has bus services and can develop land, and it is in legislation. This means that the Government will try to push this legislation through today because it needs to start work so that, if it wins the next election, it can then sell the Sydney Metro. This new Sydney Metro agency can finance, manage and develop land for residential, retail, commercial, industrial or mixed-use development. It is just another attempt by this Government to deceive the community.
Why on earth would this agency, purported to deliver Sydney Metro services, want to build high-rise development or a shopping centre? Why did the Minister not tell us that when he walked into this House to deliver his second reading speech? Now we have UrbanGrowth NSW, Landcom, the Department of Planning and Environment and the Greater Sydney Commission, all of which are about land development—and guess what? Now we will have a new authority, a new agency, that can develop land and it is called the Sydney Metro. What a deceitful thing the Minister has done in bringing this bill to this House.
The Government has been incredibly quiet on its plans for development around stations. This is first time that we are finding that the Sydney Metro agency will not only operate passenger metro services but will in fact be a developer of high-rise residential buildings and retail shopping centres. It is yet another concerning and controversial aspect of this bill that the Minister chose not to disclose when he gave his second reading speech in the last sitting week. If he were honest with the community—and we know, time and again, that this Minister is not—he would have laid the facts on the table and said, "This is what we intend to do." But he has hidden that intention and instead given a second reading speech that is full of all of his achievements and how great this infrastructure-spending and infrastructure-building Government is. What a crock that is!
The Minister needs to give a frank and full account in this House of the Government's plans for development along the metro corridor and of the role of the Sydney Metro agency in this development. The Sydney Metro Northwest is progressing. The Government is talking about how fabulous it is, how it is under budget and how it is going to be delivered on time. Perhaps it is the only project that will actually get finished. The issue is that communities along the Metro Northwest, the CBD metro and the Sydenham to Bankstown metro lines have a right to know that this agency can develop land around any of the stabling yards and stations. They have a right to know that the Minister has not told them and nor he has not told this House.
I have no doubt that the Minister has his Sydney Metro Board already chosen, because there will be a board of Sydney Metro. There has been tension, chaos and conflict between Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] and the Sydney Metro over the development of WestConnex—in fact, RMS has had to take the Rozelle Interchange and the Sydney Gateway away from the Sydney Motorway Corporation because it has done such a terrible job of managing that.
We know there is tension between these agencies, yet the Government is going to put a banner over it again: "Subject to ministerial direction." We do not even know what powers the Minister has with respect to giving ministerial direction to the Sydney Motorway Corporation. There are two or three shareholder Ministers and we do not know who gives the ministerial direction. There is a Minister for WestConnex—boy, is he in trouble at the moment!—who does not have an agency for which he is responsible because the Sydney Motorway Corporation is being privatised. How does all this work? How do staff within the agencies feel about this? Their jobs are on the line.
I have no doubt that the Minister is lining up the membership of the board of directors and chair. There are bankers, financiers and retired chief executive officers who have cultivated relationships with members of the Liberal Party because they are seeking paid director gigs. In fact, I would not be surprised if Tony Shepherd pops up again in one of these roles. Tony Shepherd is always defending the Liberal Party, even though he knows that decisions are being made that are not in the best interests of this community. Perhaps the Minister can enlighten us about who will be the directors and the board chair. The bill goes into great detail about the establishment and operation of the board, including the directors and the chair, and members in this place need to know who the directors and the chair will be. The Minister has the opportunity to tell us whom he has lined up.
I note that the Sydney Metro agency will be required to complete a corporate plan but—guess what?—the bill specifically gives the agency a free pass to exclude information that might be commercially sensitive in any plans released for public comment. That means that, for the first time in a bill, an agency will be released from having to comply with the Government Information (Public Access) Act—GIPA Act—rules for corporate plans. That is just ridiculous; it is purely about hiding information. As the shadow Minister with responsibility for transport and roads I regularly make GIPA requests of this Government and I know it is so hard to get information from it. The Government clamps down, time and time again, on information. The Government uses factors such as commercial-in-confidence or Cabinet-in-confidence. The Opposition is in despair over the secrecy and the hidden decisions being made by this Government—and here we go again in this bill.
This Government has a compulsion to hide behind Cabinet-in-confidence and commercial sensitivity in order to avoid releasing information. That should not be the case, but it is. This is what the Government does time and time again, but now there is a specific mention of such measures within the Transport Administration Amendment (Sydney Metro) Bill. If the Government has nothing to hide, why is there a specific measure within this bill? What does this Minister have to hide about this agency?
I have raised a number of concerns that Labor has about this bill—privatisation, the operation of bus services by Sydney Metro, and developing and selling land, including retail developments, high-rise developments, warehouse complexes and industrial land. You name it, this agency will be able to do it. Perhaps the Government wants the agency to deliver police services or health! Perhaps the Government could give the agency responsibility for a hospital or schools!
Mr Mark Coure: We are doing that already.
Ms JODI McKAY: The member opposite tells us that that is already underway.
Mr Mark Coure: We are building hospitals; we are building schools.
Ms JODI McKAY: You may as well throw any government service into this agency, because that is exactly what this Minister wants—a beefed up, fattened agency that can do anything and everything for the Government. This Government does not believe it has the responsibility to deliver public services. This bill is about beginning the privatisation of the Sydney Metro, fattening it up and selling it off to the highest bidder. That is what this Government does with every single public service. I challenge the Minister, in his speech in reply, to be open with the community about what his plans are for this agency. I guarantee that he will say, "This is not about privatisation; that is just Labor scaremongering."
Do not believe him, because that is exactly what this bill is about. It is about establishing this agency 11 months from the election, so that as soon as the election is held and if they win government—which they will not—they will sell it. The Minister needs to tell us his plans for this agency. I also challenge him to tell us why Sydney Metro needs to operate bus services—that one has me utterly confounded. Why does Sydney Metro want to offer bus services that may not even be connected to the metro?
Mr Jihad Dib: That begs the question.
Ms JODI McKAY: I know, it begs the question. Perhaps the Minister can give us that answer, because he certainly did not tell us the truth in his second reading speech. For the reasons I have outlined, Labor will not support this bill. I encourage members to read the detail of this bill because many of them would not have. If they have a metro going through their area, or there is one promised, they need to look at the detail because this will negatively impact their community. High-rise, retail and other developments are coming their way. If they have a public bus service, it will be gone. In fact any public bus service in any electorate—even if is in the eastern suburbs where the metro is not going—could be sold because that is what this bill allows. For the reasons I have outlined, Labor categorically opposes this bill. I put the Minister on notice, because he knows that I will deliver on this. Make no mistake, we will do everything we can to expose what this Government is about.