Barry O’ Farrell and the Indian Community

By Vish Viswanathan

Apart from reiterating his election Mantra “Rebuilding the NSW economy” and “Restoring honesty and accountability by the government”, Barry O’ Farrell has offered to “engage with the Indian community to take advantage of their skills for the benefit of families across the state”. Answering a direct question by TIDU whether he can promise “a piece of land for an Indian community centre” Barry O’Farrell has agreed to discuss this proposal with the community for the promotion of economy in NSW if the Liberals & Nationals government is formed as a result of the forthcoming elections in March.  In addition Barry has offered to create a “Multicultural Business Advisory Panel” which would naturally mean consultations with the Indian business community. He has also offered to improve transport and increase funding particularly in Western Sydney which houses a large number of Indian community members including new migrants.

 

The growing Indian community in NSW has been enjoying the recognition and rewards by the Labor governments under Bob Carr to Kristina Kennelly during last ten years. Many of the past and present Labor government ministers and members of parliament turned out to be good friends and popular with the Indian community. Community grants to India Australia Fair, Parramasala, A.R Rahman Show, Diwali festivals were welcomed and very much appreciated by the community.

 

The Indian community is seen to be emerging as a big winner with such goodies offered by both the Liberal and the Labor parties leading up to the election.

 

Irrespective of how you look at it “a much needed piece of land for the Indian Community Centre” will turn out to be the best election present for the Indian community from March 2011  elections in NSW.

 

Following is the TIDU Interview with Hon. Barry O’ Farrell MP, Leader of Liberal Party in NSW:

 

Q1. Why do you believe people of NSW need a change in the government?

 

After 16 years of NSW Labor NSW needs real change.

 

NSW Labor has broken so many promises they just cannot be believed. It is the same old scandals, political spin, sick tricks and fears and smears.

 

Ms Keneally has proved herself to be just the same as the rest of Labor when she shut down Parliament early last year to prevent an inquiry learning the truth about Labor’s sale of our electricity assets.

 

Labor’s waste has been unprecedented. They have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on bungled projects like the Rozelle Metro and T-Card. This is money that should have been spent on schools, roads and hospitals.

 

The NSW Liberals & Nationals have a clear plan to Make NSW Number One Again. We will:

1.       Rebuilding the NSW Economy through lower taxes, cutting the cost of living and business growth;

2.       Returning Quality Services including investing $3 billion in hospitals and employing 900 extra teachers.

3.       Renovating Infrastructure that makes a difference to both our economy and people’s lives. This includes building the South West and North West Rail links.

4.       Restore Honesty and Accountability to Government.

5.       Protect our Local Environment and return planning powers to the community.

 

Q2. What are your plans to improve transport in general and western Sydney in particular which is weak link today though the metropolis is growing in the area?

 

The NSW Liberals & Nationals have a strong plan to improve public transport right across Sydney.

 

We will build the South West and North West Rail links.  These projects are long overdue. They will give families living in these growth areas the public transport they have been promised but never received.

 

We will provide 135 new express and semi-express train lines which will slash travel times. We’ll ensure that commuters from areas like Campbelltown, Penrith and the Central Coast can spend more time with their families.

 

A lot of our focus will be on the western suburbs which have been neglected for 16 years.  In addition to the express trains we will have more late night bus services to areas like Richmond , Parramatta and Macarthur.

 

We will increase funding for community transport, which is vital for seniors, those with disabilities and people who live in isolated communities.

 

We will rejuvenate the transport system.

 

One of the biggest failures of the Labor Government has been their failure to provide infrastructure. As a result, they have been unable to release new land for young homebuyers – because there is no transport and other facilities to service it.

 

The NSW Liberals and Nationals will take a balanced approach. We will release new land but we will also build new rail lines and other services to ensure people moving into these areas can access quality transport, water, roads and other services.

 

So, under Labor, you can expect more of the same. More high rise development and more failed promises to build infrastructure.

 

Under the NSW Liberals & Nationals you can expect more land for homebuyers – land which will be properly serviced with much-needed infrastructure.

 

 

Q3. How do you plan to integrate or take advantage of COAG health reforms for the benefit of people of NSW?

 

The NSW Liberals & Nationals are committed to health reform – we will rebuild the hospital system through our Better Hospitals and Healthcare program.

 

The key to our program is giving medical professionals a bigger say in how health services are delivered in their area. These are the people who know what their patients need…so we will be listening to them.

 

Again, a lot of our focus will be on the western suburbs and regional areas.

 

We will spend $125 million on the redevelopment of Blacktown Hospital and $30 million for medical research at Westmead.

 

We will also invest $20 million in the Children’s Medical Research Institute and $10 million for Nepean Hospital.

 

Labor’s has cut hospital beds across NSW. NSW has one million more residents and fewer hospital beds than we did in 1995 – that’s Labor’s failed health legacy.

 

 

 

Q4. Two key achievements of Kristina Keneally government are excellent law and order situation and low crime rate and her multicultural policy – What are your views and plans for strengthening multicultural stand for the people of NSW?

 

NSW is a richer, more prosperous place as a result of the significant contributions of our New Australian communities.  It would be impossible to imagine this State without the presence of the vibrant multicultural communities.

I believe our people are our greatest natural asset.

NSW is home to more than 1.3 million NSW residents who speak a language other than English in their home and more than one quarter of our population was born overseas.

We want to use that asset to help grow the NSW economy. So we are setting up a Multicultural Business Advisory Panel.  It will help us use our multiculturalism to fine new business opportunities around the world.

I have also committed to leading a trade delegation to India in our first six months. It will consolidate and develop relationships and promote the skills and resources of NSW.

In terms of law and order we need too much more to tackle anti-social behaviour and alcohol related crime.  The NSW Liberals will strengthen police powers to deal with drunkenness. We will also introduce a new offence of ‘drunk and disorderly’ conduct and we will pilot three ‘Sobering Up Centres’ in NSW, where Police can take intoxicated people to get them off the streets until they are sober.

 

Q5. How do you plan to maintain the credit rating of NSW and what measures you would be taking to improve investments into NSW?

 

The best way to maintain our triple A credit rating is by rebuilding the NSW economy.  And that’s exactly what we will do.

 

We will cut waste and mismanagement and implement commitments we can afford.

 

We started the election campaign by identifying $4 billion of savings. So everyone knows our plans are not only sensible but they affordable.

 

The Labor Party, on the other hand, has promised the world without identifying a cent of savings.

 

If we win the election we will establish Restart NSW, a capital fund to build essential infrastructure including public transport, roads and infrastructure to support people working in front line services.

 

The fund’s capital will come from windfall tax revenues, new borrowings, including from Waratah Bonds and also from the long-term lease of Sydney ‘s desalination plant, that will net about $1.2 billion.

 

And I stress that any additional borrowings will be undertaken in strict compliance with our fiscal commitment to maintaining the AAA Credit Rating.

 

The NSW Liberals & Nationals have a Jobs Action Plan to target 100,000 new jobs for NSW. NSW lags Australia when it comes to jobs growth. Over the past decade NSW has suffered the lowest jobs growth of any Australian State and over the last 5 years NSW has had the highest unemployment rate of any mainland State.

 

 

 

Q6. How do you plan to use Indian community’s skills and brains to your advantage if you come to power?

 

We will actively engage with the Indian community to take advantage of their skills for the benefit of families across the state.

 

As in commerce and life, NSW has to get out and compete. The NSW Liberals and Nationals will send a clear message that NSW is open for business.

 

We will stimulate economic activity and boost trade and exports with measures to;

  • create a consistent and cohesive ‘Brand NSW’;
  • restore Sydney ‘s reputation as a global finance capital;
  • engage our universities and think tanks in economic development; and
  • make the most of our multicultural society to strengthen trade relationships.
  • facilitate export development and help open doors to export markets we will:
  • appoint a Parliamentary Secretary for Asia Pacific Trade to work with representatives of our Trade Offices;
  • ensure NSW Trade Offices are actively seeking out emerging opportunities and trial the most promising with ‘pilot’ projects; and
  • convene a NSW Export and Investment Advisory Board (NSWEIAB) comprising experienced business and NGO representatives.

 

To harness NSW’s cultural diversity, language skills and overseas links as part of our pitch for new business we will:

  • create a Multicultural Business Advisory Panel to work with the new NSWEIAB; and
  • continue to support the National Multicultural Marketing Awards.

 

 

Q7. The Indian community has come into limelight for the Indian student crisis. Keneally government held a roundtable and many meetings to help diffuse the situation and even gave $50,000 to the Indian community two years in a row. Parramasala art festival is an initiative of the Labor government in Parramatta area which is the multicultural hub of Sydney. Also Community Languages have gotten a funding boost. Indian subcontinent community awards by the premier recognizing achievements of Indians have been introduced recently. We are the highest income earners in the state and there have been talks with Labor government to give us a piece of land to construct a place of our own. Do you think you can promise us to give us a piece of land on which we can build an Indian Community Centre badly needed for the growing community in the Western Sydney region.

 

I will be happy to sit down and discuss any proposal put to a NSW Liberals & Nationals government that will help promote relations with the Indian community and improve the NSW economy. I lead. I think dialogue and communication are key to delivering good outcomes, not just for the Indian community, but for families across NSW.

 

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