EMU PLAINS TRAIN STABLING YARD
I attended a community meeting at Nepean High School last Saturday regarding the so called proposed train stabling yard at Emu Plains. The community consultation process overseen by this Labor Government is at best arrogant and at worst a complete bungle. I do not use those words as a rhetorical flourish. The so-called consultation process has been conducted arrogantly and with disregard for local residents, and that disregard has been flaunted.
Stuart Ayres - Member for Penrith
EMU PLAINS TRAIN STABLING YARD
30 November 2010
Mr STUART AYRES (Penrith) [1.32 p.m.]: I attended a community meeting at Nepean High School last Saturday regarding the so called proposed train stabling yard at Emu Plains. The community consultation process overseen by this Labor Government is at best arrogant and at worst a complete bungle. I do not use those words as a rhetorical flourish. The so-called consultation process has been conducted arrogantly and with disregard for local residents, and that disregard has been flaunted. When local residents inform me that preparation work has already begun on the train stabling yard, despite consultation documents that claim the consultation process is only in the fourth of six stages, when residents see work happening at their back fences, when the Government's representatives are still telling them that submissions on the development can be made until 3 December, I have to wonder why this Government even bothers pretending to listen to the people of Western Sydney. The Keneally Labor Government does not care what the people of Western Sydney want and is not interested in listening to them at all.
This disregard is particularly frustrating because, although I recognise that the western line needs a train stabling yard to support much needed additional services on the existing lines, questions still remain about the Emu Plains development. The people of Emu Plains want to know why it was only those residents within a very small radius who received notice of the project. I would like to know and the people of Emu Plains would like to know when the public meetings were organised, because it looks very much like they were the result of a last minute panic attack by the Government in response to articles in the local press. Even after these meetings, many local residents would not have had any individual consultation, in particular those who live right next to the proposed stabling yard. I remind members that we have already seen work being revved up behind the backyards of the people living in this location.
This brings me to the most important point of all. I would like to know, and so would the people of Emu Plains-as would people across the whole of New South Wales, if this behaviour has become standard practice-why was work going on at the site long before the submission and consultation periods for local residents were completed. What confidence can anyone have that the views they expressed in the consultation process will have any weight at all if work has already begun? What hope can they have of making a genuine contribution to the debate of an important piece of infrastructure when they saw the work beginning? It is no wonder that they are frustrated and angry, because it seems that this Labor Government has been more interested in ticking the boxes than genuinely engaging in any form of consultation with the community to make sure this project is delivered as it should be, in partnership with the community, rather than by force from the heights of who knows where, maybe the Premier's office.
Of course there are many more questions to be asked. The residents of Emu Plains have a right to wonder why it is considered acceptable that according to noise studies the maximum continuous noise level will be exceeded near at least one resident and who knows how many more. Surely one is one too many. Already questions are being raised about noise mitigation protocols, in particular about the sounding of train horns, because even more houses will be affected if this factor is included in the study. Then there is a broader question of why a train stabling yard will be put at Emu Plains when there is already a stabling yard at Penrith, on a vacant site, with no houses or residents to be bothered by any noise, light or other types of activity at that site if this stabling yard is to be put in place to support the Waratah trains that are coming onto the Western Line. It would be interesting to know if they are replacements for current carriages. If that is the case, severe questions may be asked about why the stabling yard at Emu Plains needs to be built, when all they will be doing there is replacing carriages that are currently stabled at Penrith.
None of these issues have been addressed in any form of easy to access public consultation. It is hardly community consultation to have multiple 160 page documents that residents are expected to wade through to get some idea of what is happening on the edge of their suburb, and in some cases at the edges of their homes. We need a return to transparent Government. We need an end to this arrogance and these bungles. Most of all, we need answers for the people of Emu Plains, and we need a genuine consultation process with the community for these important infrastructure projects.