Independent candidate Andrew Simpson says it’s not hard to see that the rate of development in Camden has accelerated in the past three or four years. “A lot of people feel it’s hit this hyper mode and you can see it from all the trucks on the roads, the tradies in the morning grabbing their coffee, there’s incredible activity in the area – and the social and transport infrastructure just isn’t with it,’’ he says during an interview with the South West Voice in Macarthur.
“We don’t have the schools, the public transport, there’s so many key things missing, we don’t even have a hospital in the electorate that can cope properly, so you have to decide to take yourself to Campbelltown or Liverpool Hospitals and that’s not right.’’
The 41 year old father of three from Cobbitty played a key role in the local residents’ push last year against the M9 orbital corridor, which he says has been put on the backburner by the government until after the election.
It was that involvement that eventually led to Mr Simpson deciding to get seriously involved in politics for the very first time in his life.
“There was the amount of effort we put into the Outer Sydney orbital fight for the best part of three, four months last year, and just listening to what was happening in that group and the wider community as to what people wanted and what they thought the issues were,’’ Mr Simpson said.
“And then just waiting for somebody to stand up and say, right, this is what the community wants, as opposed to all of these policies and thought bubbles coming out from Macquarie Street.
“And it kind of got to a point around mid September where I’m thinking, we’re within six months from the election, not a lot of noise is being made or anyone standing up from the community side of things at the state level.
“There’s certainly a lot of local groups doing a lot of good things, but nobody really taking the fight back to Macquarie Street and making sure the community’s heard, so I decided to put my hand up,’’ Mr Simpson said.
He confesses that the response from the Camden community since he became officially a candidate for the March 23 election has been largely positive.
“I’ve heard some amazing stories of support, people saying to me, we’ve had enough of the major parties,’’ he says.
“There’s a real community feeling that Camden is getting the raw end of the deal.
“The only way to fix this broken system is by getting in some independents elected.
“And if community feels an independent like me is the best person to represent them they should get behind them,’’ he says.
Like most of the new breed of independent candidates, Andrew Simpson doesn’t just criticise the major parties; he actually offers solutions to problems such as overdevelopment and the lack infrastructure.
He points out that 13 years since the South West Growth Centre was established by a NSW Labor government in 2006, along with forecasts for massive population increases in Camden, “we still have a woefully inadequate public transport system with just one train station to service the entire electorate now and in the immediate future’’.
As part of his campaign he has released suggested solutions to “relieve the frustration that commuters in the electorate experience daily’’.
They include the construction of a train station at Glenlee and the fast tracking of the Spring Farm Parkway.
“There exists a considerable opportunity to transform the Glenlee precinct into a major public transport and commercial hub, with a train station located on the spur line at the coal washery site behind Spring Farm, which has a rail line that already connects directly to Macarthur station,’’ Mr Simpson said.
“Connecting to the yet to be built Spring Farm Parkway, which must be fast tracked for immense public and private transport benefits, the Glenlee site would eventually connect to the proposed north-south rail line, rather than its currently proposed path running under Mount Annan with no station.
“Glenlee station would bring convenient train access to the lower south east of the Camden electorate including Camden, Camden Park, Camden South, Elderslie, Spring Farm, Narellan and Mount Annan, as well as the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan, improving the regional tourism capability,’’ he says.
He also wants a train station at Oran Park, and built as soon as possible, as it will bring immense benefits to local residents.
A station at Oran Park would reduce the commuter car parking load at nearby stations such as Macarthur, Campbelltown, Leumeah, Edmondson Park and Leppington.
What he can’t fathom is why it has not already been built.
“I think even the developers are somewhat surprised by the fact that for some unknown reason it was decided not to continue the rail line from Leppington to at least Oran Park,’’ he says.
“This was a perfect opportunity to service around 10,000 people who have moved into the electorate especially around Oran Park and through the Scenic Hills estates.’’
He acknowledges the promise of jobs and growth with the Aarotropolis adjacent to the under construction airport at Badgerys Creek, but in the meantime locals have to travel far and wide to their jobs.
“A lot of people moving into the area have good and comfortable jobs, but the jobs are elsewhere, they’re in Liverpool or the city, or Parramatta,’’ Mr Simpson said.
“And other than driving or sitting on trains for hours there is no other way to get to those jobs at the moment.’’