Toronto Motor Registry
18th February 2016
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [11.18 a.m.]: I seek leave to amend Notice of Motion (General Notice) No. 324 by deleting paragraphs (3) and (4) and inserting instead:
(3) Calls on the Government to provide a Service NSW office in Toronto.
Accordingly, I move:
That this House:
(1) Notes the high level of community concern about the recently announced closure of the Toronto Motor Registry and the relocation of its services to the Warners Bay Service NSW centre.
(2) Notes the inconvenience and disadvantage the closure of the Toronto registry will cause for the people of western and southern Lake Macquarie.
(3) Calls on the Government to provide a Service NSW office in Toronto.
My notice of motion was submitted last August when, after a year or more of speculation and uncertainty, our community was told that it was to lose its well-used and highly regarded motor registry. Since that time things have moved quickly, with its years of service to the community coming to an end at the close of business on 23 October last year. The site itself was put to auction and sold in January, therefore necessitating my amendment to the original motion, though it is an amendment which still fits with the feelings of my local community.
The Toronto Motor Registry had served the area well for many years, with residents from Wyee, Morisset and Cooranbong in the south through to Speers Point, Teralba and Booragul to the north as well as all those areas in between, and then some, having made good use of its services. The motor registry was well situated and very accessible for the kinds of services that were provided by the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] and Roads and Maritime Services during those years. This explains why many people chose to do their business in Toronto even if for some it was a little further away.
Do not get me wrong, I am not opposed to the Government making changes that deliver better service and that respond to contemporary times; I do not hear anyone arguing against the concept of Service NSW, whether they be from the western side of Lake Macquarie or from the east, where the member for Swansea has been raising similar issues for her constituents. I first spoke about the then pending closure of the Toronto Motor Registry on 8 September last year. Then on 22 October, the day before the closure, we had a debate in this Chamber following a petition of nearly 11,000 signatures being raised in just over two weeks. This was a fantastic example of the Lake Macquarie community saying "No" to this proposal, and their opinion has not changed as far as I hear. As I have said though, they are not against the concept of Service NSW; indeed, like me, they support it. But they want Service NSW strategically placed—not to minimise the number of offices but to provide for convenient and expected ease of access. The move to Warners Bay fails on that measure for the vast majority of people from the area.
I have previously raised the issue of the poor location of the Warners Bay Service NSW office. Indeed its location is, glaringly, the main problem. Apart from the locality being a considerable extra distance for thousands of customers and being one of the worst areas for residents of my electorate to access by public transport, it is also a congested site internal to the bulky goods retail precinct. Once again, this is a problem shared by residents of the Swansea electorate. No doubt when the commercial centre was developed it was not envisaged that there would be the kind of turnover there is now and the traffic conflicts from having one outlet that are apparent now.
I receive regular feedback from customers saying that their trip to Warners Bay was, if not a nightmare, much more difficult than they would want or expect. The concierge welcome and the staff are not the problem; indeed I hear good things about them and that part of the experience. What remains a problem is the inconvenience of the location, the distance to travel to get there and the difficulty in parking. I have had feedback that business owners are quite unhappy about the loss of parking. However there may be some that appreciate the additional passing traffic; after all, there is apparently plenty of it—as a matter of fact there is probably too much.
The Toronto Motor Registry was not only an important facility but also one of the few government services in the area. We do not have a local TAFE, and I note that the member for Swansea has concerns in that regard too. We do not have a hospital. We do not have much visible government presence in our area at all, and to take away the RTA in a town and commercial centre accessed by residents for so many goods and services just does not make sense. For our area it was a kick in the guts.
The Minister for Finance, Services and Property did join in the debate held in October. While I appreciated his willingness to do that, the information that both he and his Parliamentary Secretary, the member for Hornsby, provided was little more than what we had already heard about the intentions of the philosophy and policies behind Service NSW—something I support in principle but not in its application in this instance. I acknowledge that the Government, through Service NSW, has provided a component of a solution, at least for the short term, for the people of western Lake Macquarie—that is, the weekly Service NSW mobile offices that have been operating at Morisset and Toronto Multipurpose Centres since the closure of the Toronto Motor Registry. They have been extended recently but will soon finish up unless further extended, and I certainly hope that the Minister considers doing that before addressing this for the long term.
As I say, that is not a long-term solution. I call on the Government and the Minister to reconsider the way in which Service NSW was rolled out in our area; to take into account the difficult logistics of our region with population dispersed over an extensive area, long distances to travel, poor public transport access to the Warners Bay site and parking often stretched to or beyond what is reasonable; and, in reconsidering, to provide a Service NSW presence permanently in Toronto. This is a very real issue and I appreciate that the member for Swansea is here to support this motion today. She has very similar issues in her electorate.
I respectfully suggest that, for the nooks and crannies around the western side of Lake Macquarie, having no contiguous public transport through that corridor makes things a bit worse. On the other hand, for people from the Swansea electorate the distances involved are quite significant. The difficulty in getting to Warners Bay around the lake, through Belmont and Croudace Bay, is something that people just do not enjoy experiencing. They had a very well situated service for many years and they do not understand why this change has occurred, because it just does not make sense, given the philosophy of Service NSW. However I am looking forward to hearing some answers from the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government.
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