Rouse Hill Transport Corridor

 16 March 2010


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (8:50 PM) —I rise tonight to speak on behalf of the hundreds of residents of Rouse Hill in my electorate of Mitchell who were threatened by yet another government failure in New South Wales. Last week more than a hundred residents rallied at Sunningdale Place in Rouse Hill after receiving letters from the New South Wales Department of Planning which were sent to residents in streets like Spring Mill Avenue, Glen Abbey Street, Sunningdale Place, Greensborough Avenue, Pinehurst Avenue, Green Hills Drive and Clower Avenue asking to make their properties available for soil testing and survey work. This letter raised immediate fears that the residents would have their properties compulsorily acquired by the state government. Attached to this letter was a brochure that outlined a new transport corridor which would go through their houses. Indeed, the transport corridor would also go through the local school, Rouse Hill Public School. The transport corridor proposed by the New South Wales Department of Planning would also go through a preschool. This caused immense concern and distress to residents of Rouse Hill. Immediately on becoming aware of this proposal, I went out to meet with those residents. There were hundreds of them gathering in the streets of Rouse Hill. Some of them, including many mothers, said to me that they had not slept in many nights as they had moved to this area of Rouse Hill because of its great family values. The area is just seven or eight years old and many of the houses have been there less time than that. My electorate of Mitchell has the most number of couples with dependent children in Australia, according to the census. It is a very homogenous society.


So, when the New South Wales state government proposes to put a transport corridor right through the houses and the local school, this understandably causes great consternation and concern. A rally was held on Monday morning, where a further 200 to 300 residents turned up at Rouse Hill Public School. Being here in Canberra, I was unable to attend. Channel 9 news, who turned up to cover the story, then went to see Tony Kelly, who is the Minister for Planning in the New South Wales government. Minister Kelly outlined to Channel 9 that there had been a mistake in the placement of the corridor through houses and through the local primary school—a departmental error that would be rectified urgently. Once again we see in New South Wales an example of government failure—incompetence and mismanagement—threatening livelihoods and the ability of people to get ahead in New South Wales.


It is now Tuesday close of business and there has still been no written apology to the landowners and property owners in Rouse Hill. It is because of a government error—we are advised through Channel 9—that these properties were under threat. Their values are now in question because of this serious bungle by the New South Wales Department of Planning. It is outrageous for the government not to have apologised. It is outrageous for the government not to have immediately moved to correct that error and provide certainty to the residents and landowners in Rouse Hill. I rise here tonight to call urgently on the New South Wales state government to remove from its websites any reference to this incorrect transport corridor and immediately write and apologise to the landowners in my electorate.


I have risen in this chamber before to speak about property rights in New South Wales. I remind the House about the episode of the landowner in Parramatta who was to have his business and property compulsorily acquired by the council and who took his case to the High Court. He won his case in the High Court. One week later, the New South Wales state government changed the law in New South Wales and enabled the council to compulsorily acquire his property.


The callous and lax attitude of the New South Wales state government to property owners’ rights in New South Wales must be stopped. It is completely outrageous. I want to record my thanks to the residents who brought this to my attention and to David Catt, the editor of the Rouse Hill Times, who has been invaluable in highlighting the errors that the state government has made. I call specifically on the New South Wales state government to formally apologise to each and every property owner and to provide them with certainty about their land values and their property rights going forward.