Toronto Service NSW Centre
5th June 2018
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (22:33): Every day is a good day in Lake Macquarie but we have had a couple of very good days over the past week. I am pleased to inform the House about one of them. In October 2015 I presented to the Parliament a petition signed by more than 11,000 people who were outraged that the State Government intended to close the Toronto Motor Registry. Despite that outrage, the closure went ahead and the Government opened a Service NSW office some distance away at Warners Bay. I have no problem with the one-stop-shop model of providing services to the people of this State—in fact, I believe the model is very good—but taking those services out of Toronto and putting them at the back of a hard-to-find commercial area at Warners Bay was the wrong decision.
The site has poor public transport access and is located in the very north of my electorate, which is a long way from where the majority of residents reside or carry out their usual business. In fact, people from suburbs such as Morisset, Bonnells Bay, Cooranbong and the Rathmines area faced a round trip of about 70 kilometres to visit the Service NSW office at Warners Bay. Some of those people who rely on public transport faced a round trip of about six hours. But I am pleased to say that this story has a happy ending, and I am delighted to inform the House about it.
On Friday I was joined by the Minister for Finance, Services and Property at Toronto to announce that the Government will establish a full-scale Service NSW office in Toronto and aim to have the doors open by the end of this year. In many communities such an announcement might barely register a ripple of interest, but in Lake Macquarie we know the value of government services and investment. This is a victory that I and many people in my community have fought for over a number of years. I can inform the House that news of services returning to Toronto registered an unprecedented level of response from my constituency, with thousands of people posting messages through my social media channels or contacting me directly. The Lake Macquarie community never gave up on its campaign for services and, to their credit, the State Government and finance Minister listened.
At the moment, Service NSW offices are located at Warners Bay and at Toukley, which is further south on the Central Coast. They are both a long way from the 8,000 people who live on the Morisset Peninsula and the many thousands more who live at Cooranbong, Wangi, Rathmines, Coal Point and, of course, Toronto itself. Recently I had to visit the Warners Bay Service NSW centre. There were so many people there I thought I had wandered into McDonald's on the M1 at Port Macquarie on the first day of school holidays. It was really full and busy. As I briefly mentioned earlier, the centre is poorly located at the back of a busy bulky goods commercial centre that runs off Hillsborough Road. I am pleased that the Warners Bay centre will remain operational once the Toronto centre is open, but I must reiterate previous representations I have made in the House regarding the Hillsborough Road precinct that people use to access the centre. I draw to the attention of the Minister for Roads that I, the member for Charlestown and our communities still have grave concerns about the safety of that road. That was one of the problem with the location of the service.
Regardless, the decision to open a new Service NSW centre at Toronto was excellent and sensible on many fronts. An investment like this at Toronto will provide a boost for other Toronto businesses that have done it tough in recent years, including during the significant reconstruction of the town's main retail and business strip. The Service NSW office will bring more people into town to do business, pay their bills and do their shopping instead of being forced elsewhere. It will also mean that local communities will have access to more government services than just the Roads and Maritime Services they lost in 2015. Along with the traditional services offered by what was formerly the Roads and Traffic Authority, Service NSW provides access to about 40 government agencies including the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Land and Property Information, education and training programs, legal information and even police services. The Lake Macquarie community and I are extremely pleased to be getting those services back in the Toronto area. We thank Minister Dominello and the Government for listening and delivering.
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