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Bob Carr replies to David Williamson’s July 17-18 column in The SMH in which the playwright criticised recent NSW governments

August 27, 2010

Dear David,

I take issue with a lot of your column in last Saturday’s SMH.

Whether it was as a Minister cementing a new planning code for Byron Bay which banned high rise development or banning all canal estates in my first months as premier, or forcing Australia’s most advanced energy and water standards on new housing plus new design guidelines for apartments, I have been proud of decisions I took, all in the public interest. I mentioned Byron; I recall as Minister or Premier declaring 13 national parks in its vicinity.

You refer to “monumental infrastructure neglect.”

Do you even know of the 42-kilometre Westlink M7? After it opened in 2005 it carved one hour off a north-south journey in western Sydney. At the time of its construction – it was completed eight months ahead of schedule – it was the biggest urban road project in Australia.

You can drive from Sydney’s northern suburbs to the Victorian border without a single set of traffic lights because we completed a Sydney ring-road system, including the Eastern Distributor (2000) and the M5 East (2001).

I wonder if you are even aware of the existence of the $346 million bus freeway that gives commuters an uninterrupted, air-conditioned bus ride from Liverpool to Parramatta – in fact, to a $100 million dollar bus-rail interchange at Parramatta. I doubt if you are aware of the other 198 kilometres of bus freeways completed in my time in Sydney’s greater west.

I suspect you don’t know that the Epping to Chatswood rail link was, during its construction, the biggest urban rail project in Australia. Or that an investment of $3.7 billion dollars has upgraded every major teaching hospital in the state, the $900 million upgrade of Royal North Shore now being the last phase.

Do you know about the steel fences around the state’s schools that now protect them from vandalism? Or the $350 million dollar north shore storage tunnel that stopped sewage seeping into Sydney Harbour? Or public works that now collect storm water before it reaches Sydney’s beaches.

Monumental neglect?

You might say the list should be longer. You might prefer different items. But in my last months as Premier I was able to boast an infrastructure program that was more than the Commonwealth’s, double New Zealand’s, seven times that of New York State, or, put another way, greater than those of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT combined.

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