Three years after we elected Greg Warren to be the State Member for Campbelltown there’s one adjective that best describes him: indefatigable.
The word means someone who never gets tired of doing something, someone who is tireless, dogged, perserving and patient.
His opponents are more likely to describe Mr Warren as a pain in the backside, but it’s pretty much the same thing.
From the day he got elected in March 2015, Greg Warren has ceaselessly held the government to account on every issue where Campbelltown fared badly.
From train timetable disasters to closure of local motor registries there’s been plenty to keep our local MP perpetually standing up for Campbelltown.
“I take no steps backwards and I make no apology for that,’’ Mr Warren tells the South West Voice in Macarthur during an interview to mark a year from the next election.
“I feel humbled to have the privilege of representation bestowed upon me because there’s not too many greater privileges in life than to have a lot of people say ‘I want you to go represent me’.
“This is something that I will never, ever forget or take for granted. When I lose that, it’s time for me to go.
“I take what I do very seriously, and I turn up to work every day.
“Sometimes early, sometimes late, because that’s a supply and demand need, that’s what the people come to me with, and that’s increased, and I think that’s probably a reflection of my wonderful team, who also work really hard for our community.’’
Long before politics, Greg Warren spent a decade in the Australian Army.
By the time he left the Army he picked up two skills: how to drive a truck and the ability to shoot a rifle from a long distance.
Only one of these was any good to anyone and Greg Warren got a job as a tanker driver, but when iconic Aussie company Ansett went under he was put off along with many others.
“I decided I’d better my education so I enrolled at Campbelltown TAFE to do business studies; now I have an MBA [master of business administration] and doing further studies in globalisation and economics,’’ Mr Warren said.
He was general manager at Grace Records in Campbelltown as well as a councillor at Camden – where he also served as mayor – when the opportunity came along to represent the people of Campbelltown in Macquarie Street.
Once elected it did not take long before cuts to TAFE, motor registry closures and an appalling train service had Mr Warren calling the government to account.
He pushed back hard against several decisions that were in his view unfavourable to the people of his electorate.
The Voice asked Mr Warren to nominate the worst decision the government had made in the past three years.
“Each of the issues affect different people in different ways, but probably the most prominent in recent times has been the train timetable, which saw the direct link from Campbelltown to Parramatta cut as well as the allocation of non air conditioned trains – that has been a disaster,’’ he says.
“The TAFE position of the government has had a serious adverse effect here in Campbelltown; we need to get skills back into our TAFE.
“The motor registry would be at the top of the list for a number of reasons. In 2012, the then state member [for Campbelltown] stood up with the mayor here as a goodwill gesture, and said, ‘we’re getting a new Service NSW in Campbelltown’.
“Which all sounded fantastic at that time. But as we now know, the government at the time knew darn well that there wasn’t a Service NSW coming to Campbelltown.
“That speaks volumes as to the unethical nature of this government, and to get our good mayor, and with goodwill, dust him off there, and have a government minister, it was unfair,’’ Mr Warren said.
“There’s a lot of people with mobility issues, the elderly, we have a large seniors community, and a lot of the time they are the most marginalised and disadvantaged and that decision affected them deeply.
“It’s a basic service that hit people hard; it didn’t hit me hard, because I can use the internet, and have the resources to do it.’’
Mr Warren says he would push a Labor Government to bring a Service NSW centre to Campbelltown.
“I think it should be located here right now, I don’t know what the lease arrangements are [at Gregory Hills], those are the things that we can only look at when we’re in government.
“Campbelltown is the regional city of South West Sydney – the epicentre as was described by then planning minister Rob Stokes – so Campbelltown is Service NSW’s rightful home – it should never have left.
“And residents in my neighbouring electorate of Macquarie Fields, the distance they have to travel to get to Service NSW at Gregory Hills is simply unfair,’’ he said.
Mr Warren concedes that it’s very hard to reverse things, particularly when there’s contracts involved.
“But what we can do is change the agenda of the government – I don’t make false promises, what I do promise is to do everything I can to get the services we need,’’ he says.
“We do need to do something about Service NSW and access here in Campbelltown, and Anoulack [Chanthivong, Labor MP for Macquarie Fields] and I have been talking a lot about that.’’
Mr Warren believes a Labor Government would always be better for west and south west Sydney because they see those parts of greater Sydney as a priority.
“We acknowledge the huge growth occurring, especially here in the south west,’’ he says.
“That speaks volumes as to the lack of regard they have for our area and the ignorance they display.’’
Mr Warren says among other things a Labor Government would review recent council planning changes which have taken power away from councillors and handed it to faceless bureaucrats and so called planning experts.
“Michael Daley [Labor planning spokesman] and the leadership have given an undertaking to take to the next election a whole raft of local government and planning matters, planning laws that put community first and not wealthy developers,’’ Mr Warren said.
“IHAP was about tackling corruption but we have laws in place against corruption, if they’re not strong enough make them stronger, or if they’re not working change them.
“Once upon a time you put in a DA [development application] to the council, they make a determination, and if they’re wrong the applicant has a right to go and challenge that through the Land and Environment Court.
“Now there’s no one for the community to go to and say, why did you do that,’’ he said.
For Greg Warren being an MP is about both sides of the coin, holding the government to account but also offering solutions to improve the lives of the people in your electorate.
So we ask him: what do you believe is the infrastructure most needed to make Campbelltown an even better place to live.
“We need the extension of the South West Rail Link to connect to the airport [at Badgerys Creek] and Campbelltown,’’ Mr Warren said.
“That should be a priority before the northern link to the airport; just the forecast population growth here justifies that.
“We also need the electrification of the railway line to Menangle and on to Wilton Junction, which will give us an opportunity to then connect to the Illawarra – how good would it be to get on a train at Campbelltown to go to the ‘Gong and have a day at the beach with the family, no having to drive on Appin Road, which is another priority to get it upgraded to become a safe road,’’ he says, but wait, there’s more.
“We need the Spring Farm link road built, we need to connect Menangle Road to the Hume Highway through to Appin, and on the Camden side we need the Liz Kernohan Drive to come through, we need that synergy.
“When Cr Paul Lake and I were mayors at the same time [at Campbelltown and Camden Councils] we worked very hard on that, and there is a plan for it to be done,’’ Mr Warren said.
“There is also the Raby Road interchange, we don’t want it to be the next Narellan Road, let’s not make the mistakes of the past, so we need to replicate the interchange design at Narellan Road at Raby Road.’’
Mr Warren also believes in the need to preserve green space, especially in light of so much growth on the way.
“We want the new residents to enjoy the good lifestyle we have enjoyed, the reason I moved here, the reason a lot of people moved here,’’ he says.
The election will be held on the last Saturday of March 2019, which is more than 10 months away, but rest assured the indefatigable State Member for Campbelltown will be more than ready for whatever his political opponents throw against him.
“I take nothing for granted, and I will be running an issue based election campaign again,’’ says Greg Warren.
“I will be focusing on my representations in the previous four years, being grateful for that opportunity to my community and looking ahead to see how we move Campbelltown forward.’’