Stanford Merthyr

The small village of Stanford Merthyr in my electorate has a long history. This village would have barely 1,000 residents and probably fewer than 300 houses. However, something important is happening to this village: it is called the Hunter expressway, a project that will have a seriously significant impact on Stanford Merthyr. The village has one road in from the north and another from the south. Unfortunately, the construction of the Hunter expressway will result in the northern road to Stanford Merthyr being cut. The village will be left with one entry and exit via the south road. Presently many people use both roads to connect to surrounding villages, towns and cities such as Kurri Kurri and Maitland. Stanford Merthyr school students travel along both roads to attend this wonderful education facility, but cutting the northern road will prevent some students from being able to do so.

Without laying blame, the background and outline for the expressway project contains many layers going back to 2007. I acknowledge that, of course, the Labor Government was in office at that time. A letterbox drop or mail-out in a neighbouring suburb advised residents that this particular road was part of a complex development. Residents may have difficulty understanding the full nature of the impact of the expressway construction, given that the local council as owners of the road may not have contributed any input to the project or consulted with the Roads and Traffic Authority on whether the road closure was in the original plan. That background does not lay blame on any particular entity: the project is complex. For the local residents to work through all that and learn that the road was to be closed could have been disheartening.

However, let us look forward and consider a solution. During the election campaign the Leader of The Nationals, Andrew Stoner, with his party’s candidate for Cessnock, Alison Davy, committed to the residents of Stanford Merthyr that should the Coalition win, a review of the proposed road closure would occur. Time is of the essence. The road is set to be closed in August, only a few short months away, yet no solution has been forthcoming. The trouble is that a single road entry/exit has inherent dangers for such a small community. I am sure I do not need to spell out those dangers to members. A fire emergency would be a high priority as the area is surrounded by bushland. If this small village has only one exit/entry road there is only one option. I am sure residents live in the hope that a fire will not come from that same direction.

In previous years accidents on the front road, which is a main State road, led on many occasions to that road being gridlocked, making entry to and exit from Stanford Merthyr impossible. The current proposal is to construct a roundabout on the single entry/exit main south road. It does not fix the problem. A roundabout is a solution to help people get in and out when a road is congested, but only if that road is open. I bring this matter to the attention of this House to highlight the urgency of this situation. This road is to be closed in August. I call on the Leader of The Nationals to fulfil the commitment he made to the people of Stanford Merthyr. The solution is not simple and will require the cooperation of this Government, local government, the Roads and Traffic Authority, and the local community. I urge the House to find a solution. We need to do all that we can for the good people of Stanford Merthyr.