Mr CLAYTON BARR ( Cessnock ) ( 18:09 ): I pay tribute to the ability of three government departments in my electorate, producing absolutely nothing, for stalling over the past nine years on what seems to be a basic thing. I emphasise the nine years, because the Government has been in office for seven years, and this process started two years before that. Yet these three government departments have efficiently and effectively gone about doing absolutely nothing on a crucial piece of infrastructure that is required at the front of a school. If we do not get this right, it is possible that a student may die. I speak about the bus stop at the front of Edgeworth Public School. Edgeworth Public School is on Minmi Road. At the bottom of Minmi Road is a State road called Main Road, Edgeworth. Approximately two kilometres up the hill at the other end of Minmi Road is the Newcastle link road. Minmi Road connects Main Road and the Newcastle link road.
Minmi Road used to have a volume of approximately 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles per day. In 2009, due to the busyness of that road, calls were made to move to move the bus stop from the front of Edgeworth Public School on Minmi Road, where it was causing traffic congestion, to the back of the school. Interestingly, at the back of the school is the Hunter Life Education facility, which is located on Crown land. However, that very same piece of land used to be Department of Education land and used to belong to Edgeworth Public School. To establish Hunter Life Education the land needed to be transferred from the Department of Education to Crown Lands so that Crown Lands could enter into a lease with the tenant, because the Department of Education simply did not have that facility available to it. The land was transferred to Crown Lands. Crown Lands took Hunter Life Education on as a tenant—and it has been a wonderful tenant doing wonderful work.
The solution was to move the bus stop from the busy main road to the back of the school, which would put it on the land which is now Crown land—pretty straightforward. Education is on board, and in 2012-13 Roads and Maritime Services—the then Department of Main Roads—even had money in its budget to facilitate the moving of the bus stop. I spoke to the local Crown Lands representative in 2012‑13. I will call him Dave for the sake of argument. I said, “Dave, we’ve got a problem, mate. Out the front of the school there is a real risk to student safety. Not only that, on Main Road we’ve got traffic congestion because the traffic needs to come around in two lanes, but it can only come around in one lane during times of school drop-offs and pick-ups. There used to be 6,000 or 7,000 vehicles using that road but there are now 12,000 to 15,000. We need to get the bus stop around the back.” Dave said, “Clayton, the problem will be that, if the bus stops at the back and they have to move from Education land onto Crown land, which isn’t fenced, we will then carry the risk for injury to people who are on our land.”
I said, “Just to make this clear, Dave, a child might die out the front, or trip and twist an ankle out the back, and you’re saying you don’t want liability for the ankle, so you’d rather see them out the front on that busy street in that bus stop, causing traffic mayhem to the south. Is that your solution?” His response was: “Clayton, we don’t want to carry the risk.” Fantastic. I thought it was a Monty Python sketch! I have continued to liaise and pursue the information, and last week I received a letter of confirmation signed by the Minister. I note there have been many Ministers for Crown land, and I am not particularly interested in criticising this Minister.
The letter signed by the Minister confirmed that we will not get that bus stop moved. It is absurd. One of the reasons that people in the community lose confidence in governments of all political persuasions is that we cannot get the bureaucrats in the departments to do the most obvious, basic things. I put this on the record: The bus stop needs to move, and I will be pursuing the Minister of today, the Minister of tomorrow and the Minister of future governments to achieve that end.