Alan Mascarenhas – Labor for Epping

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What is your name, political party and electorate?

I’m Alan Mascarenhas, Labor candidate for Epping.

Tell us about your background both personally and professionally

Proudly raised in Sydney’s north west. My family (of Catholic-Indian heritage) migrated from England in 1987. Our first home was in Carlingford. Mum was passionate about education, raising me and my sisters after Dad passed away early. I attended Trinity Grammar on scholarship, then completed Arts/Law at Sydney University, followed by a Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

I’ve been a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald. Currently, I work for a small professional writing business called Editor Group. Our clients include many big technology firms in Macquarie Park such as Microsoft and Optus. Some may also know me from my weekly column for the Parra News.

I’m a proven advocate. As Labor’s candidate for Epping in 2019, our campaign successfully pressured the government to upgrade Epping West Public School and build Ngarala Public School in Epping South. We also saved the M2 buses from being cut.

What are some things you love about your electorate?

The seat of Epping has changed. It still covers Epping, Beecroft, Cheltenham and North Epping. But thank to boundary changes, it now includes all of Carlingford, North Rocks, Oatlands, Telopea and Dundas Valley. Together, this is a wonderful part of Sydney with some great schools. There is a mix of older, established residents and newer arrivals, including young families and migrant communities. Parents are ambitious for their children, so I have no doubt the future doctors, breakthrough scientists, engineers and mathematicians are being educated locally as we speak! Rapid development is causing pressures, but it is still possible to find peace in local nature reserves and tree-lined streets.

What do you believe are the 3 main issues affecting your electorate and why?

The Epping seat has been taken for granted for too long by the Liberals. Local residents are experiencing Parramatta’s growing pains – but not receiving anything like the same investment and attention. There has been a massive population explosion in Epping and Carlingford – this includes 6,000 new residents since the last Census in Epping and 4,000 in Carlingford, compared with 4,500 in Parramatta. The taxes and rates paid by Epping, Carlingford and surrounding suburbs are being redirected. For example, Telopea, Dundas Valley and Oatlands were overlooked near-completely by the Liberals’ WestInvest program which is unbelievable given local needs – from quality sporting fields to community facilities.

The main issues for me include local school overcrowding – particularly around Epping and Carlingford. The government has failed to plan for local enrolment growth. Some schools are oversubscribed, while other schools are not receiving enough resources. The Liberals’ closure of Marsden High, even with all the new development, has put pressure on local catchments. As we know, all primary school students eventually have to attend high school!

Lack of local health facilities is another serious problem given the exploding population. The seat is a black hole for hospital provision. Ryde Hospital has been left without an upgrade for too long, given the huge region that it services.

The other challenge is traffic, traffic, traffic caused by this government’s tolls, tolls, tolls! Pennant Hills Road has been a nightmare since I was a boy. Drivers often risk their lives just getting from one side of Epping to the other. Carlingford West is a labyrinth of streets at breaking point, particularly at school bell times. Smaller suburban streets are also feeling pressure like Bettington Road, Jenkins Road and New North Rocks Road. Driving on toll roads has simply become too expensive.

What are the 3 key things you plan to achieve if elected?

  • Upgrade Ryde Hospital with safe staffing levels
  • Establish a $60 weekly toll cap. This will provide responsible, temporary cost-of-living relief for drivers regularly using toll roads including the M4, M2 and Lane Cove Tunnel.
  • Tackle local school overcrowding issues, particularly in Epping and Carlingford, while ensuring schools from Beecroft to Telopea and Dundas Valley get their fair share of investment.

What about your long-term vision for the area?

I am determined that Epping, Carlingford and surrounding areas receive the government investment and attention they require given population growth. The seat of Epping should no longer be filled with forgotten, underserviced suburbs. I want this to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. That also means growing professional jobs again in places like Epping and Carlingford. Providing tech hubs and coworking spaces, so they can serve as thriving tech and business centres during the day. COVID has changed families’ priorities. You shouldn’t have to travel out of the area for work.

Other comments

I’m a proven advocate. As Labor’s candidate for Epping in 2019, our campaign successfully pressured the government to upgrade Epping West Public School and build Ngarala Public School in Epping South (see photos with Epping West parents signing petition above). We also saved the M2 buses from being cut.

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