Speeches

Hawkesbury Heights

October 28, 2021

Hawkesbury Heights, in the Blue Mountains, has no safe footpath to walk or ride the four kilometres to the local high school, the primary school, the shops or even to the local lookout and early learning centre. Kids, elderly people and mums with prams all have to use the rough bush terrain on the edge of a very busy arterial road. There has been huge community demand for something to be done about this stretch of road for at least a decade, for pedestrians and cyclists, and the increase in traffic volume over the years means it's becoming even more dangerous.

In 2016 I stood with local residents and Senator Doug Cameron to announce that a Labor government would fund a much-needed shared pedestrian and cycle path to connect Hawkesbury Heights and Winmalee, one of many upgrades needed for this road. In 2019 Labor again listened to the community and committed to funding, if elected to government. Well, we lost, and the people who face the consequences of that loss are the Hawkesbury Heights community. After nine years in Canberra and more than 10 years in New South Wales, the Liberals have done nothing. There are still mums pushing prams over rocks to get to the shops and kids walking beside a busy road. Will this be like so many other issues in my electorate—headspace in the Hawkesbury, mobile phone towers—and we'll just see the Liberals wait until an election is in the air to throw out a promise that you can't trust them to keep?

Mr Deputy Speaker, we can't say thank you enough to frontline workers who've seen us through, hopefully, the worst of the pandemic, whether it's the people at shop counters and restocking shelves or those who care for others—aged-care workers, vaccinators and testers, nurses and hospital staff, GP teams, childcare workers, disability workers, emergency services workers. While many of us have been limiting our contact with others, their roles demand that they be available and exposed. You might not know that the police have been checking on COVID-positive people in care at home, taking them food parcels from our local food relief agencies, where community workers and volunteers have continued to serve an increasingly hungry community. These are the people who've worried whether they're taking COVID home to their families. These are the people who've worried whether they're taking COVID to work, where their patients or clients are vulnerable. These are the people who should already have access to rapid antigen self-testing so that they can be more confident that the lengths they go to to protect themselves and others as they do their essential work are effective.

As the restrictions lift, it doesn't necessarily mean that the pressures on these people will lift. For teachers, the pressures have grown. So to all these people, on behalf of the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury and, I think, from this entire parliament, I say: thank you.