15 March 2021

Western Sydney is home to just over 2½ million people and is continuing to be one of the fastest-growing population centres in the country. Western Sydney is also Australia's third-largest economy, contributing over $1 billion to Australia's gross national product. It is critical that, as this large contributor to the economy, we aren't neglected by the federal government. However, over the last eight years, that has consistently been the case.

Industries like construction and manufacturing are vital to Western Sydney's sustainability, yet these industries don't have the backing of the state and federal governments, especially during the pandemic. It's time that transport infrastructure was provided to meet the demand and not leave those who live there waiting in traffic queues or on overcrowded railways and buses. The extension of the railway to the south-west and to the airport is critically important to the success of Western Sydney airport as well as the coming aerotropolis, with industries like aeronautics, advanced manufacturing and logistics supporting gate-to-plate agriculture and ecommerce fulfilment. However, Werriwa has received nothing under the Urban Congestion Fund. A land corridor is already reserved for this project and would easily and quickly connect the airport to Liverpool, Campbelltown and the rest of Sydney via the existing rail network. This vital infrastructure must be funded and built, linking the south-west's major population centres of Liverpool and Macarthur to the airport and the aerotropolis from day one. Given that the airport is five years away from opening, it needs to be done now. However, it looks like Western Sydney will have to wait until beyond the sustainability threshold before the government realises something is wrong. The lack of planning and neglect in Western Sydney needs to change.

The other critical area that must be addressed is fast and reliable internet. A report released last month confirms what Australians already know: the government's decision to dump Labor's full-fibre NBN was completely motivated by politics, not by economics or the interests of Australians. The leaked figures reveal the coalition government knew back in 2013 the original fibre rollout could have been delivered for tens of billions of dollars less than they publicly claimed. Evidence from the government's own reports looking into Labor's plans revealed that our fibre rollout would have been cheaper than the $57 billion copper rollout that was delivered. Former Prime Minister, then Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull said Labor's full-fibre plan would be wasting well over $50 billion. If there was anything wasted it was Australians' time, money and patience. Placing 68th in the global internet rankings sounds like a waste of time and money to me.

It's laughable how far this government will go to oppose Labor, even when it knows what it's doing is wrong. However, it's no laughing matter. Just ask my constituents. The majority get no more than 26 megabits per second. That would be a good speed if the year were 2007. Suburbs like Cecil Hills, West Hoxton, Horningsea Park and Long Point had been waiting patiently for years to connect to the NBN. When finally they were connected to the NBN, they got decade-old speeds at 2021 prices. That's over 20,000 people and hundreds and hundreds of homes. People in my electorate are tired of the same old dropouts that have been occurring for the last 10 years. Families in Hinchinbrook are constrained by slow speeds, and their closest node is 10 kilometres away, in the Liverpool CBD. Their internet speed isn't fast or strong enough for them to use their devices without bandwidth stress.

There are also issues with connecting the NBN in the first place. Tim Dardanian is just one of my constituents who have had consistent NBN issues. Tim is currently only able to access ADSL technology through Telstra, which is of a substandard quality. The pandemic has exposed how the NBN has short-changed people like Tim. While families were forced to work and study from home, that was not possible for people like Tim. Prior to the pandemic, 70 per cent of workers in Werriwa worked outside the electorate. Now, with more people needing to work from home, the speeds that they can get are just not acceptable.

Labor led the charge for faster internet speeds on fibre to futureproof our internet, but this government prefers to play politics. As a result, Australians have been saddled with a second-rate NBN that's slower, more expensive and less reliable. Australians have the right to expect better. I call on the government to not only fund the South West Rail Link but also urgently improve NBN connectivity in my electorate.