Intercity Train Project

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It is critical that this Parliament set aside time to debate the Baird Government's intercity train procurement project.

Over recent weeks and months it has become clear to me and any my Labor colleagues that the Minister for Transport is incompetent and that we are hurtling towards a point of no return with a doomed project that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Members opposite like to style themselves as low-spending economic rationalists. In fact, they are presiding over waste and mismanagement of epic proportions.

The fault for this lies at the feet of Minister Constance, who should have taken my advice months ago and re-examined the intercity fleet project because there are glaring issues and problems with it.

If the Minister had spent more time examining procurement documentation instead of trying to line up a job in Canberra, we might not be in this situation, but here we are.

We are being forced to accept low-quality trains built overseas to an off-the-shelf design, with seats that face the wrong way and inefficient winter heating systems. The list goes on. The price tag is $2.3 billion.

Apparently this is a 25 per cent saving. I sat down and did the homework that Andrew Constance clearly force-fed to his dog and found that the cut-price trains he is buying do not fit the tracks. Given that, we must work out what the total cost of the project will be once the tracks and the tunnels have been made wide enough for the trains to fit.

It is little wonder that Minister Constance has refused to go on the record about this project, other than to state that the trains will eventually reach Lithgow, but they will not do that from day one because they are too wide. This is absurd.

We have Minister Constance and the member for Drummoyne, his Parliamentary Secretary who does a lot of his heavy lifting in this Chamber because the Minister is too afraid to debate me.

The two are like Laurel and Hardy trying to push a piano up a flight of stairs, but they have not bothered to work out how wide it is or whether it will fit.

I am calling on the Minister to debate me on this issue and to take ownership of his failure, mismanagement and incompetence so that we can go back to the drawing board and buy a new train which is fit for purpose, which fits the tracks, and which our local commuters are happy with.

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