Sydney is on track to join other global cities with its own rapid transit metro system and this week the massive project reached another great milestone.
Five kilometres of railway tracks have been laid on the first stage of the project through the city’s north west, including more than 5,000 sleepers and 13,000 tonnes of rock ballast. Work is also progressing on the new headquarters for Sydney Metro operations, which will be based at Rouse Hill where the new train fleet will be stabled and maintained.
The Sydney Metro is just one of the public transport projects the Government is building for the people of NSW who have waited too long for the infrastructure needed to support our growing city.
The infrastructure we’re building today is not just about dealing with the congestion and capacity constrains we have today. It’s about building this state for the future and we’re proud to be spending an unprecedented amount of money in the history of this country doing it. Having said that, it is clear that when you are building infrastructure of this scale and magnitude it’s inevitable some homes will need to be acquired and we need to ensure we are doing everything possible to minimise the incredible inconvenience to the individuals and families involved.
It’s clear the Government can do better in relation to acquiring homes. We must be more generous and we must be more caring. This week, we announced a range of recommendations to ensure that we improve the acquisition process in NSW, which are part of the Government’s response to reviews undertaken by David Russell QC and Customer Service Commissioner Mike Pratt.
Our reforms ensure that acquiring a home is not just a part of the process. We are asking someone to give up their home for the greater good and, for the hundreds of thousands of people who will benefit from the infrastructure that’s coming, there are families that have to give up their home and we must acknowledge that hardship. Government has to do everything possible to work with them to ensure they are front and centre of our concerns, just as building new infrastructure is for this great city.
One of the most important part of our reforms is giving homeowners access to a personal manager, who will work with them from the moment they knock on the door to the moment the person or family moves into their new home.
Other reforms announced include providing a six month period before the compulsory acquisition process begins, and increasing compensation provided to homeowners for the inconvenience of giving up their home to $75,000 – an almost $50,000 increase on the current level provided.
Details about all of the NSW Government’s reforms of the land acquisition process can be found at www.landacquisition.nsw.gov.au
Finally, I visited the Darcy St Project in Parramatta where refugees and disadvantaged young people are being taught how to become baristas. The café helps them by teaching them the skill so that they can find a job, which has been identified as particularly difficult for many refugees arriving in Australia. I dropped by for a coffee to meet with the café owner, John, and commended his efforts in providing a helping hand to new and young Australians.