TRANSCRIPT: Parkes Doorstop on Parkes Bypass community consultation, 26 June 2019
With: Hon Paul Toole MP, Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Member for Bathurst NSW, Cr Ken Keith OAM, Mayor, Parkes Shire Council, Mr Alistair Lunn, Director, Western Region at Roads and Maritime Services NSW
Subjects: State and Federal Government funding for Parkes Bypass.
Could I first extend a welcome to all our dignitaries here today: The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Member for Riverina; Member for Bathurst and Minister for Roads, Paul Toole; and Alistair Lunn, Director, Western Region at Roads and Maritime Services NSW. And I acknowledge Geoff Rice, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, and my fellow councillors. Could I also acknowledge we’re on Wiradjuri country and I pay my respects to elders past, present, and future, and take the message that we should need to respect one another and respect the ground that we grew up on.
It’s a great pleasure today to be here for a very significant announcement – an announcement that sees cooperation between Federal, State and Local Government for a bypass. This is an important development in our town, particularly with the development of the Inland hub. This road will be [indistinct] developed, and the Special Activation Precinct has the State Government working with Council.
We’re very conscious of community consultation regarding the bypass, and there was a round of consultation over 12 months ago now. The RMS have revised the plans and we look forward to seeing those revised plans go on display soon in the community, to comment on those, and I encourage the community to have their say. I think we have to take the opportunity of making sure that Parkes becomes a destination on the Newell Highway and people take the opportunity to come into our town – and that we have services on that bypass that we’re able to accommodate the travelling tourists that go through it.
But I would like to congratulate the State and Federal Governments on their commitment to the Newell Highway. As Chair of the Newell Highway Task Force we’re delighted to see the funding allocation – particularly the recognition of the Newell as a road that is of strategic importance, and that means maybe 80:20 Federal-State split in funding for works on the Newell, and this would be the first example of that. We look forward to seeing work done on the flooding between Forbes and West Wyalong later on, another project of importance on the Newell and particularly an additional 30 new overtaking lanes on this very important corridor.
It's my great pleasure to welcome both Michael and Paul here to Parkes today, and to congratulate them on this initiative going forward, and we look forward to working with them and our community to make sure that Parkes is a beneficiary of this development. Thank you very much.
Thanks Ken. Can I just say I’m also delighted to be here today, to be also joined by Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Michael McCormack. Yesterday I went and visited the RMS office here in Parkes; when I was there I saw a map that was on the wall that actually spoke about a bypass being constructed back in 1965. So here we are, 55 years later, actually working with the State and the Federal Government and the local council - and now going to make this a reality. And this is so important, because when you have a look at Parkes, there is something like over 1,400 truck movements that go through Parkes each and every day.
With some of the railway crossings, we can see them being closed up to 28 times during the day. This equates to about 80 minutes of time that is a delay. We can see cars, motorists, trucks being backed up. This is going to make it safer; this is going to ensure that we actually improve productivity and freight movements on the Newell Highway. This is an important investment that is being made both by the State Government and the Federal Government and we’re very excited about the initiative being put into the Newell Highway.
When you have a look at Parkes and the way in which it’s growing, this is an important area. Parkes is very important to the state of New South Wales. Parkes is a growth centre, and it’s going to continue to be so, not only with improvements to the Newell Highway but the Inland Rail, with the Special Activation Precinct, it’s going to make an incredible difference to the wider community.
It’s great to be here with Paul Toole, the Roads Minister of New South Wales. I’m working very, very closely with him - not just on projects of small but significant importance such as roundabouts, but indeed nation building infrastructure – and this Parkes Bypass is nation building infrastructure being such a – as the Mayor Ken Keith has just pointed out – the Newell Highway as a road of strategic importance. We want to make sure that the necessary funding is there to ensure that the Newell Highway, that Parkes, that Forbes, that West Wyalong, that every community here in the Central West and the Riverina area gets looked after. We want to make sure that the truck a minute movement which is coming through Parkes has easy access still to Parkes, but for those trucks which want to continue on down the Newell Highway without having to drop their speed to 50 kilometres per hour, then they’re able to do just that. Ken Keith knows how important this is, as the Mayor of the local government area here – as do all his councillors. I know that the State Government is very much on board, putting up $20 million. The Federal Government has put up $100 million as an election commitment, and we were elected. We were elected and this is what happens when Liberal and National Governments are in place, when Liberal and National Governments get together as the State and Federal Governments are doing - not just here at Parkes but indeed right throughout New South Wales and particularly regional New South Wales.
There’s a good story to tell in regional New South Wales at the moment. It is one of the great drivers of the Australian economy. We want to make sure that if we’re going to ensure that the regions are strong, that we put the right infrastructure in place. We have, as a Federal Government, $100 billion that we’re spending on infrastructure. I compliment and I commend the New South Wales Government for the $94 billion that they’re putting down to build a better state, and certainly when it comes to regional New South Wales, they’re doing just that – in partnership with the Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government.
But this isn’t just about government at local, state and federal level; this is also about people. This is also about community. And we want that community input on the Parkes Bypass. And want to hear from householders, from families and indeed from businesses.
I appreciate that when you do a bypass that there’s always going to be concerns from business about whether foot traffic and vehicle traffic is going to continue to go past their business, indeed come into their business. So that’s why community feedback is so important. I congratulate and I commend the Roads and Maritime Services for the fact that they are doing a mail-out. I also urge and encourage people to take part in that survey, in that community feedback. We need the feedback because we’ve got to hear from Mr and Mrs Average, from people who are running businesses. We’ve got to hear from the Parkes community about what they think about their bypass. Not only is it the nation’s bypass; it’s also very much the Parkes bypass. So we want to hear from local community members about what they think, and we’ll certainly take that feedback on-board as we build this nation-building infrastructure, which is going to be so important for the local community.
When can we expect [indistinct]?
I know that the Roads and Maritime Services will take on-board the feedback. I know that there’s a lot of geotech and engineering work to be done, to begin with. That work and the final design concepts are going to take some time. I’d like to think that at some stage next year - and Alistair might have something to say about this too - that next year we can get shovels in the ground and we can get high-vis workers, that we can get excavators happening. The project, depending on final designs, is a ten and a half kilometre route. It’s a huge – a huge – project. It’s $120 million at this stage.
So it’s going to take some constructing; it’s also going to create a lot of jobs. But it will take at least a couple of years to complete. The fact is, we’ve got the funding. That’s the first stage. The fact is, we want the community feedback. That’s going to be an important stage as well. And then, as Alistair will no doubt testify, we want to get those designs done – the geotechnics, the engineering, all the [indistinct], and then we’ll get to work.
Sometimes you’ll have Labor Governments in place, and they don’t care about the regions; the Liberal and Nationals do, and happy days, we’ve got the planets aligned: the State Liberals and Nationals were re-elected in March; the Federal Liberals and Nationals were re-elected as well in May. Paul and I have got together. We know that this is an important project and we’re committed to building a better regional New South Wales. That’s what we’re doing.
Paul and I talk regularly. We’re both Nationals. We both understand just how important these projects are to building and boosting regional New South Wales. And we’re getting on with the job.
I appreciate the fact that they’ve been talking about this for a long, long time. Paul mentioned he saw plans of 1965. I’ve seen plans for the Inland Rail, which were around 1890, and you know, we’re getting on and we’re building it. That’s what Liberals and Nationals do. We get on and we build things, and we’re making things happen right now.
So, today we’re announcing that we’re out with the concept design and REF for the Parkes Bypass for community consultation. We’ll be in the community talking to the community about this until 9 August. As the Deputy Prime Minister said, we welcome all feedback and we look forward to feedback. I’ve been talking to the community for a number of years about this project and it’s great to see now that we’re getting on and moving to the next stage. After this, we’ll finalise the design and then, as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Roads said, we’ll be getting shovels in the ground and building it. It’s a really exciting thing for Parkes. The Bypass will remove a lot of the heavy vehicles we’ve seen today while we’ve been here from the town, and also eliminates two rail crossings that really are a safety risk for us but also a real impediment to the freight efficiency and the efficiency of the Newell Highway – a strategic freight corridor within Central New South Wales.
Will the bypass be running past any homes or any [indistinct]?
The bypass goes adjacent to some homes, and we’ll be talking to those residents and they’ll be treating those homes with appropriate noise mitigation measures where needed. It really goes alongside the Activation Precinct. One of the main features as well is a bridge that will be suitable for double-stacked trains, which is what we’re anticipating Inland Rail will be running. So we’re really future-proofing this for the growth that we see in Parkes with the Activation Precinct.