Ms JODI McKAY (Strathfield) (18:41): I speak on behalf of the residents in my electorate who have been let down by this Government. As this House knows, construction of the M4 East tunnel is running five months late, and it will now open in August. Residents in my area generally have not opposed the tunnel—if traffic is removed from Parramatta Road then the M4 East tunnel will be a positive for my area. However, the project has had a dramatic impact on residents of North Strathfield, Concord West and Homebush. The residents have been incredibly patient with construction over the past two years, but the situation has now reached an intolerable level. I have spoken in this place numerous times about the effect this project is having on my community: homes have been compulsorily acquired, residents have experienced noise and disruption in the morning and when they sleep, streets are clogged with traffic and homes are covered in dust from construction.
To make matters worse, homes in Concord West and North Strathfield have been damaged by the tunnel construction. Last year I hosted a community forum for some 100 local residents. They spoke about a range of issues they must face on a daily basis, including the cracking of their homes. Following damage to their homes the residents have also been subjected to an unfair and non-transparent process for assessing damage claims. The government process allows the joint venture of CPB Contractors, Samsung and John Holland to be responsible for assessing damage and deciding whether to pay for the damage to be repaired—even though they are the contractor responsible for the damage in the first place. Of course, they are declining to pay for any damage to homes. After our lobbying to the Minister and the loud voices of residents, Roads and Maritime Services has now instigated a review process. While I welcome that process, I do not have faith in the result and neither do the residents.
A kilometre away from the epicentre of damage to homes is an area of land in Homebush of approximately 4,600 square metres in size. It was acquired by the Government for the construction of the M4 East tunnel. That land is now not needed. Many residents would rightly assume that this residual land, which was bought using public money, should be returned to the community for its use. Yet in another slap in the face for residents they have discovered that the Government instead wants to sell that land to the highest bidder—that is, it wants to sell the land to a property developer. When residents found out about this decision they were rightly outraged.
Across Sydney communities are losing valuable open public and green spaces. The residents of Homebush know how important open public space is for their community and are seeking to have the land given to Strathfield Council. In the lead-up to the election the Minister responsible for WestConnex, Stuart Ayres, backflipped on the sale and stated that the decision would be reviewed by the new Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. It is now up to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to give the residents of Homebush a guarantee that the land will be for community use and provide a timeline of when the land will be returned to the community.
I have written to the Minister to request that he visit Homebush and meet with local residents to discuss the future of the site. I hope that he will accept my request. I believe the foundation of any interaction between the Government and the community should begin and end with respect. As I have mentioned, the residents have been patient and understanding during the construction of this project. The Government now has the opportunity to act in good faith by giving residents a say in what the future of their local area should look like. That includes handing over all residual land in the WestConnex project. That is the commitment that we, the Labor Opposition, made last year. It is the right commitment and I call on the Minister to support my community and other communities across the WestConnex project area.