Keep Our Rail In Public Hands

With news surfacing that the NSW Government is considering privatising Sydney Trains, today Abigail rose to demand that the government honour it's pre-election promise to not sell-off public rail infrastructure.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:27:32): My question without notice is directed to the Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts, representing the Minister for Transport and Roads. Last week it was reported that the New South Wales Treasurer has an appetite to further privatise the essential public services that our community relies on, with specific mention in the report to our State's rail assets in the upcoming budget. That is despite previously ruling out the selling off of our rail services and strong community sentiment to keep our trains publicly owned. Will the Government recommit to its promise to not sell off our trains and keep rail infrastructure in public hands?

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Special Minister of State, and Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts) (12:28:10): A specific answer to that question will need to be sought from the Minister for Transport and Roads. While I make absolutely no comment about what the Government is or is not doing on rail assets—our policy appropriately should be left to the Minister—I have to say more generally that the Government's decision to recycle its assets and sell some but buy a lot more has been incredibly positive for the State.

We do not resile from our view that it is a good piece of public policy. It has led to better outcomes and more modern infrastructure—not just roads and hospitals but also cultural infrastructure. There is absolutely no doubt the $2 billion worth of spending on cultural infrastructure would not have been possible without the recycling of assets. In my view, it is one of many things that we did in our term in government that we can look back on as an incredibly positive thing for the people of New South Wales. That is why we have more, better and newer hospitals right around the State. That is why we have opened new classrooms and not shut them. This is a good thing and ought to be celebrated.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:30:23): I ask a supplementary question. Will the honourable member elucidate whether the response just given in relation to the supposed benefits of privatisation means that the Government will not commit to not selling off our rail assets?

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Special Minister of State, and Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts) (12:30:47): No, I was quite clear in my answer. I will refer that to the Minister for Transport and Roads and obtain his answer. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.

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