Angry community rejects WestConnex

Issue 
Locals make their feelings known at the meeting at the Enmore Theatre in Newtown on February 23.

More than 1000 people attended a meeting at the Enmore theatre in Newtown on February 23 to hear from the builders of the $12 billion motorway WestConnex.

The WestConnex Delivery Authority organised the meeting as a community consultation to answer what they call “misinformation” about the project. But they faced an overwhelmingly hostile reaction from the crowd.

The crowd booed and heckled WestConnex Delivery Authority chief executive Dennis Cliche as he tried to promote the benefits of the motorway.

But speakers were unable to answer many questions from the crowd because the business case and the environmental impact statement, including how the motorway will affect local traffic in surrounding suburbs, have not yet been released.

WestConnex Action Group organiser Emma Pierce said: “If this is truly community consultation, then they should cancel this project because the community has spoken and don’t want it.

“No one wants this toll road, no one wants the lack of alternatives that it leaves commuters, and no one wants the congestion or the poison stacks or our community torn apart by this.

“The community expressed strong concern about how we would cope with the tens of thousands of cars they’re expecting to be dumped in St Peters, and how the poison stacks would affect our air.”

The meeting was held only days after Labor released its new infrastructure policy. It promised to build a new M5 East tunnel but scrap another tunnel that was planned as the third stage of WestConnex.

Labor's transport spokesperson Penny Sharpe is standing in the new seat of Newtown, whose residents largely oppose WestConnex.

The convener of No WestConnex: Public Transport Inc Chris Elenor said: “Labor is not cancelling WestConnex; they are endorsing it.

“Labor has announced that they will not only build the WestConnex M4 widening project from Parramatta to Homebush, but they will extend WestConnex through to the city. They also plan to build the M5 duplication.

“In fact, the only piece of WestConnex they say they won’t build is the link from the M5 to the M4.

“Taking WestConnex through to the city may look good as a line on the map but in practice it will choke the city by inducing even more traffic onto our already congested road network and will make Sydney unliveable.

“Labor will also reintroduce tolls to the M4. We know from the government’s own documents that with vehicles avoiding paying the tolls, it will bring large numbers of vehicles, particularly trucks onto Parramatta Road and Victoria Road.

“Compulsory acquisitions of homes are not being cancelled either - they are just being put on hold.

“We are disappointed that Labor wants to proceed with the M4 widening with no public scrutiny, no transparency, no detailed business case and no detailed traffic modelling. In other words they don’t want to know if the numbers stack up or not and they don’t even want to know if it will solve traffic congestion. They just want to build it.”

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