Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Electorate

Alister in Ku-ring-gai

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (19:46:59): As this four-year term of the New South Wales Parliament approaches its conclusion, I make some reflections on a busy and rewarding period. In 2015 I joined a Coalition Government that four years earlier was handed the reins of what was then the worst performing State in Australia on most economic measures—even behind Tasmania. The Coalition made the promise in 2011 to make New South Wales number one again, and it has. A strong economy has allowed the Government to embark upon a once-in-a-generation infrastructure program of more than $80 billion in capital works over the next four years. The capital works include record expenditure that will increase Sydney's rail capacity by 60 per cent; the building of new major roads to ease congestion; and the building of more than 2,000 new classrooms and installation of air conditioning in 1,000 schools as part of a more than $6 billion spend on schools. Seventy-eight new or upgraded hospitals and healthcare facilities have been completed and a further 40 hospitals are to be upgraded or redeveloped at a cost of $8 billion.

The Government's success is exemplified in my area where the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital is receiving a $320 million upgrade. The stage one works for new surgical wards have already been completed. Stage two, which is expected to be completed in 2021, will deliver a refurbished and expanded emergency department and a new clinical services building. These new health facilities in our State will be complemented by the 950 extra nurses and midwives, 300 new doctors, 120 allied health professionals and 260 new mental health workers announced in this year's State budget. Other major local projects completed or announced include: the NorthConnex tunnel, which will take 5,000 trucks per day off Pennant Hills Road; an $800 million upgrade to capacity on the North Shore train line capacity to allow more services; the spending of $30 million to remove some of the bottlenecks on the Pacific Highway between Gordon and Wahroonga; a new $23 million car park and bus interchange at Gordon station; and about a $20 million upgrade at Wahroonga railway station.

There are 36 schools in Ku-ring-gai, including public, independent, Catholic, special needs primary and preparatory schools, comprehensive public high schools, selective public high schools and Catholic, Independent and special needs secondary schools. I am a frequent visitor to those schools and I am continually inspired by the high quality of the State's next generation. Every single one of Ku-ring-gai's 19 public schools has been the recipient of at least one and in most cases several Government grants during the last four years. Funding has been provided for new playgrounds, upgraded halls, sunshades, outdoor learning environments, new science labs, upgraded kitchen facilities, toilet upgrades, fencing and after school care facilities.

In Ku-ring-gai eight new state-of-the-art teaching spaces have been completed at Killara Public School and the construction of 37 new teaching spaces, a hall and other associated infrastructure is under way at Waitara Public School. In addition to meeting the teachers, students and parents of our schools, since my election in 2015 I have made my very best endeavours to meet as many of Ku-ring-gai's amazing local individuals and groups as possible. I have met them in places including retirement villages and Probus clubs. I have met the art society, the philharmonic orchestra, the Ku-ring-gai Male Choir, the Pymble Players, and the Marian Street Theatre for Youth. I have met with ethnic groups, religious bodies and small businesses. I have met with people at pre-schools, new citizenship ceremonies, universities, the Ku-ring-gai Community Workshop as well as at street stalls, railway stations and in my Wahroonga electorate office.

I have also been greatly impressed by the selflessness of volunteers at our local sporting clubs, service clubs, Meals on Wheels, the Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service [SES], the St John's Ambulance, Fire and Rescue NSW, Lifeline, the RSL, the National Servicemen's Association, our community radio and the PCYC, to name but a few of them. Along the way, I have made every effort to assist them with their work or mission, whether it be through grants for repairing or renovating damaged or aged roofs, bathrooms, kitchens or decks or for purchasing necessary vehicles and equipment, such as everyday equipment for the SES, a refrigerated van for Meals on Wheels or a 12-seater bus for the PCYC. I have been pleased to be able to facilitate the improvement of the facilities and capabilities of our local sporting clubs, including by providing funding for club house upgrades, electronic scoreboards, uniforms and equipment, coaching and defibrillators. In conjunction with the West Pymble Football Club, the Federal Government and the Ku-ring-gai Council, more than $1 million has been provided to give the club a field with a synthetic surface, the consequence of which will be a tripling of its use and a massive reduction in maintenance costs.

I thank my parliamentary colleagues, the staff at Parliament House, my family and especially my incredible electorate office staff, without whose willing and outstanding assistance I could never hope to achieve my objectives. My electorate office staff are often the first point of contact for someone seeking advice, help or information and almost daily I am asked to pass on to one or more of them the gratitude of a constituent. Since 2015, both Ku-ring-gai and New South Wales have taken great leaps forward. I am very grateful to the people of Ku-ring-gai who have given me the great honour of representing them in this Parliament over the past four years.

Mr JOHN SIDOTI (Drummoyne) (19:51:59): I congratulate the member for Ku-ring-gai on the work he is doing as a great local member. His story is not uncommon among Government members across the State. There is so much infrastructure being built. The member for Ku-ring-gai's comments highlight that if you have a strong economy you have money to spend on infrastructure. While driving through his electorate recently I saw the works on the NorthConnex. That will be a game changer in that neck of the woods. Moving the trucks underground and reducing congestion will make it a more pleasant trip for others. The member is doing an outstanding job. It is not limited to the road projects; it also includes public transport initiatives across New South Wales. I commend the member for Ku-ring-gai for his work.