I am always impressed by the willingness of our communities to band together in times of need. This week, we’re seeing that same mateship as families, friends and total strangers step up to help residents who’ve been smashed by the ferocious storm that battered coastal parts of the state.
I visited the suburbs of Picton and Chipping Norton where the torrential rain had caused widespread flooding, inundating homes and businesses. Despite the devastation around them, the locals I spoke to remained composed and positive about their futures and told me they were determined to rebuild.
And we will be there to help them.
I returned to Picton with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce disaster relief funding for affected areas, as well as the appointment of a distinguished former deputy police commissioner to lead the clean up and recovery effort.
Retired NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens was the State Emergency Operations Controller for almost four years until August 2011 and led the state’s response and emergency personnel deployment for Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires, Christchurch’s earthquake and Japan’s tsunami.
Mr Owens will be able to draw on his lengthy experience handling numerous disasters and major events and I thank him for accepting this appointment, which will help residents in storm-affected communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, we celebrated a major milestone on the Sydney Metro project this week.
I visited one of the construction sites at Rouse Hill to see the first railway tracks go down on the revolutionary project – the biggest public transport project underway in the country.
The first stage of the project is progressing nicely, we have completed tunnelling, construction on the skytrain is almost at the halfway mark, and this week we have laid the first tracks. It’s powering ahead and is on track to take passengers in the first half of 2019.
Sydney Metro Northwest includes eight new metro stations, five existing stations upgraded to metro standards and 4,000 new commuter car parking spaces.
It was great to speak with workers installing the very first section of track at the site that will become the train stabling facility at Rouse Hill. About 19km of railway steel will be laid inside the warehouse over the coming months, as well as 11,500 sleepers and 30,000 tonnes of ballast. Once services start in the first half of 2019, it will be where 22 metro trains are housed and maintained – and further down the track it will also house the main operations centre for the entire Sydney Metro network.
We’re getting Sydney ready for the future and once completed, Sydney Metro will be able to move more people across the harbour in the busiest time of day than the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tunnel combined.
Finally, I’d like to remind readers that nominations for the 2016 Premier’s Multicultural Media Awards close on 19 June.
The awards recognise the work of professionals working in the multicultural media who keep the state’s communities up-to-date with news and events taking place here and overseas.
We have had a good response so far across the 14 award categories and I’d like to encourage multicultural media professionals to consider submitting their best work before nominations close. More information about the awards, eligibility and past winners can be found at: http://multicultural.nsw.gov.au/awards/premiers_multicultural_media_awards