Mr MARTIN: My question without notice is directed to the Premier. What is the latest information on the Government's plans to relocate jobs from Sydney to Lithgow and other regional centres?
Mr CARR: Just over a month ago I reported on the success of the firearms registry being moved from Sydney to Murwillumbah. As well as bringing 50 jobs to the Tweed, customer satisfaction is at an all time high. The work force is highly motivated and it is achieving results. Since 1995, the Government has created more than 1,900 jobs in rural and regional New South Wales and it has relocated 1,100 jobs. We will move another 1,000 jobs by the end of 2003. There are, for example, 228 past the gate jobs that went from Sydney to towns like Glen Innes and Dubbo. The Registry of Co-operatives went to Bathurst; and the Infringement Processing Bureau will be up and running by this time next year in Maitland.
In Nowra, construction has begun on a purpose-built three-storey government building worth $10 million and construction alone is underpinning 100 jobs in the Shoalhaven. That building will house the entire Department of Local Government. That does not complete the list. I do not want it thought for a moment that these jobs are going only to Labor-held electorates. There is, for example, the native vegetation unit, which is going, happily I think, to Wellington. Certainly Wellington is happy at the prospect of 24 jobs. Earlier this year, at the Country Labor conference, I announced that 100 Department of Land and Water Conservation jobs, currently based in Sydney, would go to Dubbo to create a centre of excellence in land and water management. I think it is fair to say that it is to the general satisfaction of the people, local government, the whole community, and certainly the local member.
One hundred and sixty jobs in the Department of Mineral Resources will move from Sydney to Maitland—a happy centre for this sort of relocation. The list goes on. I will now announce another relocation of government jobs from the centre of Sydney into regional New South Wales. I turn to the details. Can honourable members guess where the State Debt Recovery Office, which is currently located in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, is going to go?
Mr Martin: Lithgow.
Mr CARR: Who said Lithgow?
Mr Martin: I did.
Mr CARR: The honourable member is right! Isn't that perceptive? It has nothing to do with the fact that the honourable member for Bathurst asked the question, but it is a happy outcome for him. Those 132 jobs represent 132 pay packets going into local shops, local businesses, restaurants and services. Jobs for Lithgow on top of the relocation of the police assistance line—
Mrs Skinner: That is where the hospital is to be located, which is a happy move.
Mr CARR: As the honourable member for North Shore just said, the hospital will also be put there, which is a happy move. The honourable member helped me out by saying that there will a brand new hospital at Lithgow.
Mrs Skinner: I am here to help you out.
Mr CARR: Most things in this Parliament happen through consensus. When there are changes to health services, Opposition members say, "Well done, Bob. Lithgow got that great new hospital." Everyone is happy. I now turn to the question of the building in Lithgow. Honourable members should stop congratulating the honourable member for Lithgow for a moment. They can do that when question time is over. The Government will work with Lithgow City Council to determine the best location for this building. The honourable member for Coffs Harbour keeps interjecting.
I am sure that honourable members are not aware of what the honourable member for Coffs Harbour did on 26 November. He rushed into ABC mid North Coast radio to declare that he had no intention of challenging George Souris for the National Party leadership. The Stasi advise me that there is no report of this challenge. The honourable member for Coffs Harbour took it upon himself to deny it, even when there was no challenge. The honourable member sees the humour in this situation. No-one is talking about a leadership challenge and there is no speculation, but the honourable member dives onto ABC mid North Coast radio to say, "I am not going to challenge George."
Mr Fraser: I am proactive.
Mr CARR: The honourable member for Coffs Harbour is proactive! This was a proactive leadership challenge denial. George, with friends like that! Honourable members should stop distracting me. I am here to talk about Lithgow and about jobs for Lithgow, which are positive issues. I am not interested in these exchanges across the Chamber. I am interested in Lithgow and the 132 government jobs. The silicon smelter is going ahead. Opposition members should make up their minds whether they are for it or against it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Bathurst will contain his excitement.
Mr CARR: I can understand the honourable member's excitement at this great announcement. I assure the honourable member that I will work with council on this question of locating the building. There might be an existing building that is suitable or a new building might be required. That is something that we will determine after consultation. By the way, we expect the move to be completed by the end of 2003. It is important to underline this fact. The relocation of government jobs from the city to the country, on a scale never before attempted in New South Wales, is not only good for country communities but also it will result in a re-energised work force in the government agencies involved. That was the case with the firearms registry in the Tweed, as the honourable member has confirmed. The honourable member for Tweed will recall our visit with the Hon. John Tingle, who pointed out that not just the local jobs but the quality of service had improved with the relocation. Certainly 50 jobs for the Tweed is important, but the quality of government service improved with that decentralisation.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Oxley to order.
Mr CARR: It is good at the end of the year to be able to draw on these encouraging, shall I say, grunts and supportive noises from our ever-articulate Opposition. All this is a vivid contrast with the inactivity of the seven years of the Greiner and Fahey governments. They were happy to have all these jobs locked up in city towers, and they kept building city towers to put government departments in. Never once did it occur to them that they could make an impact on country economies by doing what we are doing—relocating government jobs from Sydney to country.