Perrottet Government does not regret privatising toll roads

Abigail questioned the Minister for Roads today about the Government's privatisation of toll roads across the State at the profit of big corps such as Transurban.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:22): My question is directed to the Minister for Metropolitan Roads. Given rising costs of living and the unreasonable burden that Sydney's toll roads are having on the residents of New South Wales, does the Government regret its decisions to privatise our toll roads using contracts that effectively box the Government in to having little option but to line the pockets of Transurban in order to provide toll relief for drivers?

The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence) (12:22): I am pleased to be part of the Perrottet Government, which is committed to securing a brighter future for New South Wales by taking pressure off families and small business, and leaving more money for them at the end of the week. The Government said it would deliver a toll relief package as part of the budget and that is exactly what we do as a Government. I am proud to be part of a Government that has eight motorways delivered or in delivery. We want to get people across New South Wales reliably, efficiently and effectively and we have done that by building it. We do not just talk about it; we deliver it. We do not just to draft the press release. We actually have a plan with Infrastructure NSW and with gateways. We announce it and then we built it. That is what we have done in New South Wales.

Ms Abigail Boyd: Point of order: The point of order relates to direct relevance. There are two things in the question. The first is whether the Government regrets, not whether the Minister is proud; and the second one is whether the Government regrets boxing itself in so that when it provides toll relief, effectively it lines the pockets of Transurban.

The Hon. Wes Fang: To the point of order: I think Ms Abigail Boyd just explained to the House the exact point that the Minister is making. There are a number of parts in her wideranging question. When a Minister is directly relevant to the answer, the Minister can be directly relevant to any one of those parts, which the Minister was doing.

The PRESIDENT: I think the Minister was being directly relevant. Being proud is a direct response to a lack of regret. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. NATALIE WARD: Thank you, Mr President and the Hon. Wes Fang. It is pleasing that we had the Parliamentary Friends of France event last night, and in those famous words, I have no regrets. I am very proud. I have no regrets. I have been part of a government that not only delivers but continues to have foresight to set up New South Wales for success. I am proud of being a part of a government that delivers. We make sure—unlike members opposite, who just talk about toll relief, opening motorways and a road that goes to nowhere—we built that road, the M2, so that people can get where they are meant to go quickly and efficiently.

We have seen thousands of cars on the M2. That roadway relieves congestion and takes other people off local roads to free up those roads and get people whether they need to go. We want families to not be stuck in traffic. We want them to be getting across New South Wales, getting their kids to school, getting to work and getting home to their families at night. That is what we do while we continue to provide that cost-of-living relief to families. We know family budgets are tight right now and we are making sure that we are putting money back into the pockets of more motorists more often across all of our toll roads.

We do not apologise for being very clear that our focus is on cost of living for families while we continue to build the motorway network. Drivers are able to get up to $750 back in their pockets from any of those roadways. Once they spend $350, they start to get that relief immediately and that is across all of our roads, in addition to the M5 cashback and the registration relief. The Government continues to make sure that families are at the centre of this while we roll out our large infrastructure projects. We are proud of that. We have a plan for that across New South Wales to ensure that families everywhere can get where they need to go quickly and effectively.

I am pleased that we will continue to have our approach to motorways that ensures we can deliver them in partnership with the private sector, years—and even decades—ahead of schedule. With the private sector absorbing the biggest initial cost with the biggest risk, the Government continues to free up capacity to build hospitals and hundreds of either new or upgraded schools across New South Wales to support our regions and to do everything that we need to do to work for New South Wales. [Time expired.]


The full transcript can be found here.

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