More "stimulus" waste

As car parks go, the new federally funded one in Fisher Street, Cabramatta, is definitely five-star: clad entirely in native hardwood inlaid with images of porpoises, set in landscaped gardens and topped with a 200-panel solar system feeding into the grid.

There is only thing missing: cars, with not even an oil stain marking any of the 172 pristine, polished concrete bays.

Charles Gream, a local resident, took daily photographs of the electronic display that listed the number of available spaces and confirmed its accuracy with a quick walk through, before the display was turned off recently.

"I reckon it's running at about 3 per cent," he said. "Without a doubt it's the most car-free part of Cabramatta."

The solution to this, says Fairfield Council, is to build more car parks. It has promised two, including one the mayor and local state Labor MP, Nick Lalich, hopes RailCorp will build for commuters on the site of the Cabramatta Inn.

It is not clear why RailCorp would build a car park when the federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, said the Fisher Street car park was built for commuters who are parking in local streets rather than paying charges of up to $20 a day.

When the council announced in 2009 it was going to use $5.6 million from the federal government's economic stimulus package to help build the car park, locals predicted it would be a white elephant. Fisher Street is east of the rail line, 500 metres from Cabramatta's shopping district west of the line, where parking is in short supply.

The council insisted at the time that stimulus funding was available only if it began work on the car park within six months and Fisher Street was the only site available for a quick start.

A spokesman for Mr Albanese said yesterday that the location and success of the car park was a matter for the council.

He denied the $5.6 million the government committed was stimulus funding, although Mr Albanese's press release from 2009 said "through the Rudd government's economic stimulus package, we are investing in major projects like this".

The project is listed on the government's Nation Building economic stimulus plan and there is a sign on the car park stating that it is funded as part of the economic stimulus plan. But Mr Albanese's spokesman was adamant: "It's not stimulus money," he said.

With car parking a hot issue in the state election, the Liberal candidate for the seat of Cabramatta, Dai Le, called on the council to immediately allow the Fisher Street car park to become a fully operational free commuter car park.


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