State election: Transport concerns are key for Heathcote electorate

ROAD and rail problems are in the spotlight in the battle for the seat of Heathcote.

Liberal candidate Lee Evans highlighted funding allocations for road "pinch points" in the area, while Labor candidate Maryanne Stuart said residents had been badly let down by train timetable changes and scarce commuter car parking.

Ms Stuart said electricity privatisation and TAFE course cuts and fee increases were other "big issues".

Mr Evans said while an $11 million study into extending the F6 motorway was under way, $300 million would be spent on "pinch point" projects in Sutherland Shire and St George.

The package included funding in 2015-16 for work on Heathcote Road between Princes Highway, Heathcote, and New Illawarra Road, Lucas Heights.

Further funding would be provided in 2016-17 on the same road section, specifically for the dangerous bridge over Woronora River.

Mr Evans said other improvements would be made where Acacia Road met President Avenue and Princes Highway at Kirrawee, and the nearby intersection of the highway and Oak Road, next to the brick pit development.

Reviewing the past four years, he said he believed he had delivered on "modest commitments" including a new ambulance-fire station at Bundeena and the Heathcote pedestrian bridge.

"Along the way, there have been some other things like sound barriers in Heathcote Road, climbing lanes at Mt Ousley, Sutherland Hospital car park and and a new emergency department that will be built soon."

Mr Evans said he was sure coal seam gas operations would not resume in the "special areas" of the Woronora catchment.

He said existing licences were "on hold" while a review was carried out, and he was confident they would be extinguished, and the government would not issue licences to any other company.

Ms Stuart said as the daughter of a train driver she was passionate about public transport, and felt residents from Helensburgh to Loftus had been let down badly.

Train timetable changes had reduced the number of services and people travelling to Kogarah had to change to another platform at Hurstville, which was difficult for those with mobility problems, she said.

Ms Stuart said there was a great shortage of commuter car parking, and the new multi-level station being built at Sutherland would make little difference.

"Streets around Helensburgh and Waterfall stations are parked out because more and more people are driving up from Wollongong to catch the train," she said.

Ms Stuart said, from her doorknocking, there was a lot of concern about the sale of public assets and the changes to TAFE through the involvement of private training colleges.

"I spoke to a young family man who is doing a plumbing course. He said if he failed a module he would have re-sit it and pay the course fee of $5000 again."

Candidates at this stage include:

Maryanne Stuart (ALP):  Picture: John Veage

Maryanne Stuart (ALP): Picture: John Veage

Maryanne Stuart (Labor): Grew up at Engadine, the youngest of seven children, and lives at Woronora Heights with her husband Russell and their two children.

She attended schools in the region, St Patrick's Business College and Gymea TAFE.

Ms Stuart started work in an occupational health and safety role for the NSW Labor Council (now Unions NSW) and has worked for individual unions and MPs. For seven years she has organised the finances at St John Bosco Primary School, Engadine.

Lee Evans (Liberal): Is married to Gayle and they have two adult sons.

Lee Evans (Liberal)

Lee Evans (Liberal)

He has lived at Loftus most of his life and his father helped found the first Liberal Party branch in Sutherland Shire.

He began work as an apprentice chef, established a gourmet food distribution business and was supply purchasing manager for the athletes and media villages during the Sydney Olympics.

Mr Evans worked on all of federal Liberal Danna's election campaigns before standing for Heathcote.

Greg Petty (Ind): Is an accountant who lives at Helensburgh.

Greg Petty. Picture: Robert Peet

Greg Petty. Picture: Robert Peet

He stood unsuccessfully in 2011 before being elected to Wollongong City Council.

He was supported in both campaigns by former state MP and well-known corruption fighter John Hatton.

Mr Petty's car windows were smashed during the 2011 state election campaign and he believed it was linked to his opposition to land rezoning and coal seam gas exploration in the region.

He said the leadership of the the major parties had become embroiled in corruption investigations and "a vote for either is a vote for more of the same".

"I am particularly passionate and committed to protect the Illawarra and southern Sydney's water supply from coal seam gas exploration."

Natasha Watson (Greens): Was profiled in an earlier edition. She is president of the Otford Protection Society and has campaigned on major environmental and planning matters.

Natasha Watson, Greens

Natasha Watson, Greens

HEATHCOTE

The Liberal Party has a 19 per cent margin at Heathcote after an electoral redistribution.

Boundaries moved across the Woronora River to include Bangor and Menai, and take in Sutherland CBD.

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