Federal Opposition Leader, Mr Bill Shorten, visited Gosford on Monday, July 2, to announce that, if elected, a Federal Labor Government would build a new multi-level commuter carpark at Gosford, or expand the existing car park.
Mr Shorten, accompanied by Labor’s candidate for Robertson, Ms Anne Charlton, said commuter parking would also be expanded at Woy Woy and Tuggerah stations, as part of a national policy initiative.
He said a Labor Government would spend $15m on the provision of additional commuter parking in major centres, and chose Gosford to announce the roll out of his party’s park and ride initiative.
“Thirty thousand people make the commute from one of the fastest growing areas in Australia, but we make it hard, and the government makes it hard just to catch the train,” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten said the plan would “make sure there are 1,000 extra car spaces across these three very busy areas on the Central Coast”, to help residents “get on with their lives without fuss and bother”.
Ms Charlton said the initiative was a result of feedback from residents who have been forced to park on suburban streets and at shopping centres.
Ms Charlton said station carparks reportedly have been reaching full capacity by times as early as 6:30am.
“I’ve been speaking to people… and not only is there the inconvenience of finding a Council fine under the windscreen wiper of your car, and the walk back to the car, but at night time, it’s not always safe,” said Mr Shorten.
The proposition hopes to alleviate the strains placed on the one in four Central Coast residents who commute by train.
Mr Shorten said, if elected, his government would cooperate with Central Coast Council, the police and local engineers to ensure the project was successful.
He said the national Park and Ride Fund would see $300m spent nationally on commuter car parking at key public transport hubs.
When asked about whether a Labor Government had any plans to create more employment opportunities in the area, to reduce the need to commute long distances, Mr Shorten said: “The project is an illustration of the bigger point…one of our strategies is to help make apprenticeships a viable pathway for young people.
“Even on these projects, we’ll be specifying that one in 10 people who work on the construction of these projects has to be an apprentice,” he said.
He said a Labor Government would also create more local employment opportunities through developing renewable energy and tourism infrastructure in the area, as well ensuring some medium to small businesses have access to cheaper finances.
He said he was persistent that his job was to “focus on the policies which affect people.
“It’s all about jobs, health and education, and of course more carparks at Gosford Station,” he said.
Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks, said the Coalition Government was backing its hardworking commuters with a strong plan to provide vital infrastructure for the nearly 30,000 locals travelling to Sydney or Newcastle for work.
Ms Wicks said the Coalition Government was working to create a “real plan for the Central Coast community, including for our hard-working commuters.
“In contrast, Bill Shorten’s announcement today of $15m car parks at Gosford, Woy Woy and Tuggerah, is just another example of Labor delivering on a thought bubble and not on a plan for our hardworking commuters,” Ms Wicks said.
“The NSW State Government has advised that Labor have wildly underestimated the cost of delivering new multi storey car parks across NSW, much less on the Central Coast,” she said.
“$300m would barely deliver 10 new multi storey car parks across NSW.
“Simple maths will tell you that Labor’s $15m will, on those numbers, deliver half a car park for the Central Coast.
“So which half a car park will Labor build?
“Bill Shorten and Labor have not even approached the NSW State Government about delivering this supposed plan, which shows how short-sighted it is in the first place.
“Unlike Labor, the Coalition Government is delivering fully funded projects for our commuters, including a $12m plan for continuous mobile coverage, and free Wi-Fi at train stations for Central Coast Commuters, with that to be switched on by the end of 2019.
“A co-funded business case with the NSW Government to explore options to upgrade the rail line between Sydney and Newcastle, would reduce travel time from three to two hours, which is expected to be delivered in the next 12 to 18 months, under the $20m Faster Rail initiative.
“A Car Parking Petition, with each copy signed, is being delivered to the NSW Government, Central Coast Council and the Treasurer,” Ms Wicks said.
“More local jobs, including the 600 new jobs from the ATO building, flowing into Gosford, and thousands of hardworking commuters, the need for more parking is becoming critical.
“Half a car park for Gosford, half a car park for Woy Woy or half a car park for Tuggerah, which will it be?
“Or will Labor, again, promise everything to everyone and then under deliver yet again, to the Central Coast.
“The Central Coast deserves better that thought bubbles and broken promises.”
Media conference, Jul 2
Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition
Media release, Jul 2
Charlotte Bowcock, office of Lucy Wicks
Vidya Kathirgamalingam, journalist