AS THE intensity of the federal election campaign was reaching its peak on the second last day, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Thompson Square to chat with Hawkesbury residents about its historical importance and steps to take to preserve it.
Mr Rudd was met by a cheering crowd of all ages holding posters of himself and Labor candidate for Macquarie Susan Templeman, while he made his way around the wool-bombed Square, greeting residents along with Community Action for Windsor Bridge (CAWB) members who were into their 46th day of occupying the area.
As passing cars and trucks beeped their horns in recognition of the PM, Mr Rudd had a walk through with Ms Templeman and CAWB’s Kate Mackaness to see the plan for the new bridge for himself.
Ms Mackaness explained to Mr Rudd that the wool bombing to take a stand against the Option 1 plan, is about ‘‘weaving the community together’’.
‘‘We have had contributions from the most amazing people. We had a PostPack from the governor of Dillwynia Correctional Centre — a beautiful square knitted by someone in there,’’ she said. ‘It’s [the Square] warm, colourful, comfortable and non-threatening. It’s what this space is all about.’’
While standing in Thompson Square Mr Rudd, a self-professed history buff who hadn’t been to Windsor since he was a child, saw the Square's value and has pledged his support to an alternative bridge solution.
‘‘Dougie (Senator Doug Cameron) told me all about Thompson Square and we spoke about what was necessary. It’s quite remarkable that you have a Square like this, so much of which has been preserved, and so can I congratulate you as the community for gathering around and arguing the case that this should be preserved for the future,’’ Mr Rudd said. ‘‘Together, with Susan (Templeman), I as Prime Minister of Australia, want to work with you to preserve this Square as it is.
Mr Rudd said National Heritage listing is the way to achieve this.
‘‘We will work with you as a local community to achieve that end....It’s too an important a part of our history to simply consign to Barry O’Farrell’s department of main roads,’’ he said.
Mr Rudd acknowledged the traffic issue but said, ‘‘Barry O’Farrell’s plan would so fundamentally destroy the historical aspects of this site, that frankly you’re kissing goodbye to history’’, and there needs to be a crossing elsewhere.
‘‘So my challenge to him [Mr O’Farrell] and the local member for this part of the world is very simple — get on board. When it comes to preserving historical sites, don’t be on the wrong side of history,’’ he said. ‘‘Organise yourselves with the continued pressure of people power, elect Susan as your local member and on top of that take the message loud and clear to your local council and Macquarie Street, and let them know that you’re the people, and you don’t think this is a good idea. And tell them on the way through, the Prime Minister doesn’t either.’’
Mr Rudd is still waiting for a response from Mr O’Farrell regarding the $500,000 pledged to ‘‘engage in a study of an alternative crossing over the Hawkesbury River’’, which was announced in July and a letter sent on July 30 from Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese to the Roads Minister Duncan Gay.