Lane Cove Tunnel Integration Group and Compensation Negotiations
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I direct my question to the Minister for Roads. Is the Minister aware that at the supplementary Roads budget estimates hearing the chief executive officer of the Roads and Traffic Authority stated that he would expect negotiations on compensation for the delaying of surface works on the Lane Cove Tunnel to be completed in three months? Have the Roads and Traffic Authority and the integration group submitted their recommendations to the Minister to take to Cabinet in relation to compensation? If not, will the Minister inform the public when those recommendations are to be submitted?
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: It is a great pleasure to respond to the honourable member's question—yet another demonstration of the Opposition's poor attempts at probing and in-depth analysis of New South Wales politics. As has been explained on numerous occasions, the Iemma Labor Government is committed to appropriate transition of the Lane Cove Tunnel and expanded Gore Hill Freeway to be integrated into the surrounding road network. Building on the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry, which of course was cross-party, we have been negotiating with the operators of the Lane Cove Tunnel to ensure an appropriate transition of this $1.1 billion project back into the road network in a way that will get it right for motorists, businesses and local residents.
The construction period has been difficult for motorists, and I thank the people of New South Wales, particularly the motorists and the residents in the area, for their patience with this very long project. We have learned lessons from the Cross City Tunnel. As I have made clear, you cannot just open a $1.1 billion piece of infrastructure and the very next day start on road surface changes and expect the motorists and the community not to experience major inconvenience. We need to work harder during the transition process for motorists and residents. The parliamentary inquiry recognised this.
We want the Lane Cove Tunnel open as soon as possible. But, regardless of when the tunnel opens, there of course will be teething problems, and we need to work with motorists on the many road changes that will be associated with the opening of this $1.1 billion project. There are 10 major points with the Lane Cove Tunnel, the expanded Gore Hill Freeway and the new Falcon Street ramps intersecting with existing road network, including the M2, Delhi Road, Warringah Freeway, Brooks Road, Orion Sam Johnson Way and the harbour crossings.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: I draw attention to the matter of relevance. The Minister has given an extensive preamble to the answer to the question. The question was a discrete question on compensation, and so far the Minister has not come within a bull's roar of answering it. I request that the Minister be drawn back to the question.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has at last raised a proper point of order. I remind the Minister that he must be relevant.
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: It is a massive project. That is why in June the Iemma Government established the Lane Cove Tunnel integration group. The group has representatives of the Premier's Department, the Roads and Traffic Authority, the State Transit Authority and Connector Motorways. It is a massive task for our engineers, our traffic experts and our emergency response teams, and it is important to effectively communicate these changes to the travelling public so that motorists can plan their trips. The integration group's job is to make sure that the project's transition into the existing road network is based on sound traffic management principles. The work is ongoing.
The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: Madam President, the preamble is ongoing as well, and the Minister is flouting your ruling that he should actually talk about compensation. It was a discrete question, directly on compensation, and so far the Minister has not got near it.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind the Minister he must be relevant.
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: The New South Wales Government continues negotiations with Connector Motorways to ensure an appropriate arrangement during the transition period, and when those negotiations are finalised they will of course be made public.
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I ask a supplementary question. Why does the Minister refuse to answer the question on compensation?
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: What we have here today is—
The Hon. Michael Gallacher: A very straightforward question.
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: —a very straightforward question, because basically we have a demonstration that we have learned the lesson of the Cross City Tunnel, much to the annoyance of the Coalition, and we will transition the changes, including any changes to the surface roads, over an extended period of time to minimise inconvenience. There are negotiations with Connector Motorways to ensure appropriate arrangements, and when those negotiations are concluded, they will be made public.