'East-West Link, Roe 8 halted: WestConnex next?'

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"First Melbourne's East-West Tunnel was stopped by people's power, now the Roe 8 has been stopped in WA. Next to go, WestConnex?" Peter Boyle, an activist in the Newtown Residents Against WestConnex, said on March 13.

He was commenting on the decision by the new Labor premier of Western Australia, Mark McGovern, to order the suspension of all work on the Roe 8 section of the Perth Freight Link after the March 11 state election, which saw the Barnett Liberal government decisively thrown out of office.

"People power forced the incoming Labor governments of Victoria and WA to halt these damaging roadways,” he said. “And people power can also force the Coalition government in NSW to back off from its $17 billion WestConnex tollway disaster," Boyle added.

"Growing numbers of people in Sydney are realising the dangerous environmental and social impacts of this monumental 'road to nowhere’. The movement against WestConnex needs to step up the pressure to force the government to suspend work on the project, subject to a full and accountable public inquiry."

These comments came as an international expert on black lung disease, Dr Robert Cohen, told a Queensland parliamentary inquiry on March 16 that workers who constructed Brisbane's network of road tunnels were at risk of silicosis from exposure to silica that is "probably more dangerous" than coal dust. This raises the question of possible health damage to workers building the WestConnex road tunnel project. 

The Save Sydney Park protest camp aimed at protecting hundreds of trees under threat from WestConnex roadwork has moved from its previous position to a new, more public site near the corner of Sydney Park Road and Euston Road, St Peters. The camp is open every day at the site and volunteers are welcome.

Several women formed a Stop WestConnex team to ride in the International Women's Day bike ride to Cronulla on March 12. A group of Newtown residents protested and leafleted against WestConnex near the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on March 13.

Residents from Newtown, Annandale, Camperdown, Leichhardt and Rozelle gathered on March 14 to picket the proposed WestConnex test drill site in Camperdown. Some local business operators nearby are furious about their shops being compulsorily acquired for the WestConnex project.

Finally, a "Grand Theft WestConnex" rally is being held on Thursday March 30, at 4.30pm, outside the NSW Parliament, supported by a number of anti-WestConnex groups. Among other demands, the rally is calling for "Not another cent" to be wasted on WestConnex, and "No new tolls" to be imposed on the M4 and M5 roadways.

At the same time, a No WestConnex Legal Fund has been established to raise money for the legal expenses and fines imposed on dozens of residents who have been arrested for protesting against WestConnex over recent months. The fund is also highlighting the draconian nature of the new NSW anti-protest laws rammed through by former premier Mike Baird last year.

Go to the Stop WestConnex Legal Support Fund to make a donation.

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