Toronto Motor Registry
22nd October 2015
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [4.31 p.m.]: It is with great pride in my community that I speak in this debate today. We are having this debate because the people of the Lake Macquarie electorate have unequivocally made their views on this matter known by way of the almost 11,000 petition signatures collected in just over two weeks opposing the closure of the Toronto Motor Registry. That is a fantastic effort, assisted by more than 50 local clubs and businesses and many individuals. This remarkable response should leave the Government in no doubt about the strength of feeling on this issue in my electorate: The community is feeling anger, outrage and despair at the way they have been treated. I believe the community has a strong case for calling for a reversal of the decision that will see the Toronto Motor Registry close its doors tomorrow afternoon. After listening to this debate it is my profound hope that the Government will see the sense of reviewing this decision and respond accordingly. I acknowledge that the Minister for Finance, Services and Property is in the Chamber and I thank him for being present for this debate.
I am not opposed to a shift from the motor registry model to that of Service NSW, which is a one-stop shop for a range of government services. On the contrary, I support the concept and endorse the good outcomes that can be delivered to the community. However, as I have argued consistently since the closure of Toronto Motor Registry was announced, the communities of western and southern Lake Macquarie deserve their own Service NSW outlet. The Government's euphemistically named "relocation" of its services will greatly inconvenience the people who live on the western side of the lake and put more pressure on an already busy Service NSW centre at Warners Bay. I acknowledge that many of the services the Government provides will be increasingly available online, but not everyone has access to or is comfortable with internet transactions yet so the need for face-to-face service remains.
It is not just the Toronto customers who are being funnelled into the Warners Bay centre—residents on the opposite side of the lake are losing their motor registry at Belmont as well. I acknowledge the presence in the Chamber of the member for Swansea, representing that community. I know that she is as concerned about the impact of these decisions on her constituents as I am about mine. The concerns of people in my electorate arise from a number of issues, including the unsuitability of the Service NSW site at Warners Bay to meet the needs of people in western Lake Macquarie. This is due to poor public transport access, restricted parking, lack of proximity to other services and travel distance from the southern suburbs of the electorate. People from suburbs such as Morisset, Bonnells Bay, Cooranbong, Mandalong and Silverwater will face a round trip of between 60 and 75 kilometres to visit the Service NSW centre at Warners Bay. If they have a car it means about 60 to 80 minutes travelling time—quite an ask to renew a licence or to undertake some other one-off transaction.
For those relying on public transport, access becomes even more problematic. According to the Transport for NSW online Trip planner, someone travelling from Morisset to the Warners Bay Service Centre faces a one-way trip of between and 60 and 75 minutes involving three train and bus interchanges and about 15 minutes of walking. But that is for someone starting from the vicinity of the train station. For someone travelling from Bonnells Bay, that one-way trip increases to between two and three hours, with up to five bus and train interchanges. In other words, the round trip will take four to six hours, with up to 10 interchanges. A customer from Cooranbong, Wangi Wangi or Rathmines is looking at a one-way trip of up to an hour and 40 minutes, and again several interchanges.
I realise it makes sense to rationalise the number of Service NSW centres in highly urbanised areas such as Sydney, where an alternative office is likely to be only five or 10 kilometres away and can be accessed by a short ride on a bus or a train. But clearly it is a completely different scenario in my electorate, where we have inadequate public transport and suburbs scattered around a large body of water, with many suburbs located on long peninsulas. In addition, the Warners Bay Service Centre is in a bulky goods retail and light industrial precinct. It is not the sort of place where people can combine a trip to the supermarket, post office, bank, library, doctor, dentist or Centrelink office with their visit to the motor registry, as they often do now at Toronto, where all those other services are in close proximity and public transport access is much easier.
I acknowledge the Minister and Service NSW staff for continuing to negotiate with me on this matter and for having put some interim arrangements in place to serve customers in Lake Macquarie after tomorrow's closure of the motor registry. But the community and I are determined that this is not the end of the matter. Western Lake Macquarie continues to grow and this community warrants its own permanent Service NSW presence. We support Service NSW, we believe the people of western Lake Macquarie will support Service NSW and with a growing population there is no doubt that demand will continue to grow. I implore the Minister and Service NSW to revisit their decision and to establish a Service NSW site in Toronto.
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