Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (13:04): I'm pleased to speak on this private members' business today, because in my electorate of Gilmore, we have many roads of strategic importance.
Before coming to this place, I fought hard to get federal funding for the new Nowra Bridge. The 140-year-old iron-truss bridge was reaching the end of its operational life. Put simply, it had to replaced, otherwise locals would have fewer lanes going directly in and out of Nowra.
With $155 million in funding from the federal government and $155 million from the New South Wales state government, which is great news. I'm pleased to say that the new Nowra Bridge is progressing well and expected to be completed by mid-2024. But during this time, I've heard the very loud cries from people about the need for a Nowra bypass and that the new Nowra Bridge was not going to solve all our massive traffic issues.
At the Nowra Bridge sod-turning on 19 June 2020, I also said that we have to get on with the Nowra bypass.
Quite honestly, I'm gobsmacked nothing has happened on the Nowra bypass. The plans have been there for decades. We have a New South Wales state government that has been in power since 2011.
Ten years of state coalition government and not one bo-beep about the Nowra bypass; three New South Wales Liberal MPs in my electorate of Gilmore and again, no willingness or drive for a Nowra bypass. None.
We've heard a lot about bypasses in other areas. Look to the south, we have both the Milton-Ulladulla bypass and the Moruya bypass going ahead, albeit with a distinct lack of genuine consultation with the communities involved. But Nowra, the largest town in the City of Shoalhaven, has no bypass.
The Shoalhaven, the gateway to Jervis Bay and the pristine New South Wales South Coast, is a magnet for visitors. When lockdown ended, people were fleeing Sydney and Canberra for the coast—and who would blame them? It's such a beautiful area. Our population more than quadruples at Christmas and holiday times. More and more people are choosing to relocate to the New South Wales South Coast and work from home, but our infrastructure just doesn't cut it.
Ask anyone living in Bomaderry or further north who needs to travel to Nowra for work—it's a nightmare, and that's on the good days. Friday afternoon commonly sees gridlock around our internal Nowra CBD streets, as people try their best to dodge the traffic without any luck.
Our local small businesses, their workers and families have done it tough. Drought, bushfires, floods, ongoing bushfire recovery and COVID-19 have created the perfect horrific storm. Our local businesses just need a break. Parking in the Nowra CBD is a nightmare and an ongoing issue, and the amenity of the town is not helped by the gridlock of our Nowra Bridge crossing and our streets.
Deputy Speaker, I love Nowra. I'm proud of Nowra. It's where I've grown up, it's where I was married 25 years ago and it's where I've raised my four children. But there is so much more that could be done to help improve the liveability and workability of the town. The revitalisation of the Nowra Riverfront is something that I have long been passionate about. The new Nowra Bridge is a great start, but unless the government looks to the future and gets on with the preplanning for the Nowra bypass it will be another 30 years!
Don't we owe it to our children, their children and everyone in the Nowra-Bomaderry area, and along the New South Wales South Coast, to ensure that people have safe passage through and into Nowra—that the town of Nowra can flourish, helping businesses, workers and jobs?
How can people help? By signing the petition on my website calling on the state and federal government to get on with the Nowra bypass and start the pre-planning. Together, let's get it done.