CBD AND SOUTH EAST LIGHT RAIL PROJECT
Dr MEHREEN FARUQI ( 15:24 ): My question is directed to the Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts, representing the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. The Australian reported today that transport Minister Constance wanted to dump the CBD and South-East Light Rail because, in the view of his office, it was a dog of a project, and every alteration to the project will cost five times more than it should. Have we been lumped with the big cost blowouts in this project because of the Premier’s incompetence whilst she was transport Minister?
The Hon. DON HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) (15:25 ): Tempted as I am to take a point of order about such a loaded question, full of argument, I will simply respond. I did see the article that the member is referring to. If members listened to her question and read the article they would notice that there are major inconsistencies between what the member is suggesting and what was in the article, let alone what the actual situation is. The article makes it quite clear that that was not the view of the Minister, and that the Minister did not seek to stop the project.
The Minister was asking for information. He was asking for the sort of material that is needed to responsibly do his job and to do health checks on major and significant projects. The Minister for Transport is well aware of the need to do that, not only because of his role as transport Minister but also in his role as the chair of Cabinet’s infrastructure committee. He is often involved in health checking major projects. So he asks these questions as a matter of course. For the member to make those sorts of assertions in her question is a complete nonsense. The CBD and South-East Light Rail is an excellent project. I have advocated for it for years. It is going to be a very proud achievement for the member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith. The Premier should be proud of everything she did as Minister for Transport to bring this proposal to fruition. When it is finished, the people of the eastern suburbs—particularly those people in the Randwick area, the Kingsford area and the Kensington area—are going to benefit enormously.
It is disappointing to see such negativity about projects that are going to change lives for the better. This will provide better access and better public transport for the people of eastern Sydney who are accessing suburbs to the north, better public transport links for people who are visiting important facilities in the eastern suburbs, such as Randwick Racecourse, the Fox Studios, the University of New South Wales and the cricket ground. This question is just absolute nonsense.
The Hon. Ben Franklin: NIDA.
The Hon. DON HARWIN: The Hon. Ben Franklin reminds me about the National Institute of Dramatic Art. NIDA is, of course, a very important part of the University of New South Wales, so I felt that I had covered that. Never mind, I have made the point. I will refer Dr Mehreen Faruqi’s question to the Minister for Transport and see if there is anything he would like to add.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind members of the ruling of the then President Burgmann in 2006, which states:
The only person in the Chamber able to direct members what to do is the Chair.
I would be grateful if all members ceased giving directions relating to when Ministers should resume their seats and when they should or should not answer a question, or ceased indicating when they think a Minister’s time has expired, but it has not. That is not the role of members; it is the role of the President.