COVID-19 Recovery Assistance

It is a matter of State, and it is a matter of importance. I thank the Assistant Speaker for drawing the attention of the House to the matter. The reality is it is to the credit of the frontline workers, health staff and everyone else in our community that we are coming through the pandemic. There was little or late support given by this Government during that time—and I will come back to particularly western and south-western Sydney, the divisive approach of this Government and the effect it had on social and economic circumstances. That is a fact and it is a reality.

The Premier is lucky he has a limo driver because he would not know how to get to western Sydney himself. He would have to be driven there. His track record in western Sydney stretches from Hawkesbury to Epping. He could not get out of the place quick enough. We need no better indication as to the thoughts, views and feelings of this Premier and this Government than the actions of the Premier himself, who could not get out of the Great West quick enough. The Liberal Party right know that western and south-western Sydney is a great place for a photo opportunity, but we know that this Government simply looks at western Sydney for tolls, taxes, privatisation and as an urban development dumping ground to reap billions of dollars, which are then squandered and wasted on projects in the other areas of Sydney.

I note that the member for Wollondilly—one of my colleagues to the south—is in the Chamber. He knows only too well the consequences of the Government's ignorance in our region. It is the same right across western and south-western Sydney. However, we have gotten—and we are getting—through this pandemic, and I give credit where credit is due. As I mentioned before, certain measures have been put in place that I believe are a credit to the community, to the volunteers and to the frontline staff. But the reality is that the divisive approach taken by this draconian Government at the beginning of the pandemic isolated western and south-western Sydney and created a tale of two cities. We know that the serious situation throughout western and south-west Sydney created and established by this Government and its divisive approach has had financial consequences not only for small businesses that went broke but also for families who lost their livelihoods. People could not see their loved ones. But if you travelled in other areas of Sydney it simply was not the same.

We do not want to see anyone disadvantaged. We just want to be treated the same as everyone else. Good luck to everyone else, but good governments govern for all—and equally. Clearly, this Government lacked the capacity to do that. Its divisive approach was unfair, unjust and we will not forget. The reality is the social disconnects—otherwise known as the New South Wales Liberal Party—have shown nothing but contempt for the west and south-west over the years and ever since it came to government, and that ignorance and contempt were no better displayed than in the actions and the decisions of this Government at the beginning of the pandemic. The Premier likes to spruik west and south-west Sydney, like the Minister for western Sydney. But I think Scomo would be more popular at a Bastille Day dinner in Saint-Germain than this Government is in west and south-west Sydney.

It is all well and good to initiate this public interest debate—and I acknowledge the contribution of the member for Manly—but the reality is it is all credit to the community and those frontline workers. What we do know is that much recovery is needed to get back businesses that have locked their doors and families who have lost their livelihoods back on their feet. But we need support programs that provide opportunities for everyone in New South Wales. We do not want to see again a divisive approach that excludes west and south-western Sydney. I take this opportunity to acknowledge all the local members and councils right across the west and the south‑west, who did a magnificent job. I do not care what side of politics they are on; I believe they did everything they could to support their communities through the pandemic. But the recovery must be done right, and the division and the draconian approach must never be seen again in the west and the south-west. I thank the House.

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