The campaign against the NSW Coalition government's controversial WestConnex tollway is mounting. In addition to various locality groups maintaining their protests, a combined rally — “Grand Theft WestConnex — has been called outside NSW State Parliament on March 30 from 4.30pm.
The rally has been endorsed by a number of anti-WestConnex groups, and is seeking further endorsements. The rally is demanding that the $1.6 billion federal loan for WestConnex, which is yet to be paid, be stopped.
To fund WestConnex, Western Sydney drivers will be hit with hefty tolls and the rally is also demanding that there are no new tolls placed on free roads.
Among the continuing local protests against WestConnex, was a second action by the Rozelle Against WestConnex group on March 4 involving about 30 residents in hazmat suits, holding placards, standing on the Victoria Road pedestrian bridge in the rain. Motorists and truckdrivers honked to show their support from the roadway below.
Chris Standen, writing in the February 27 Guardian, noted: “Earlier this month, the auditor general released his damning report on Sydney's WestConnex tollroad, concluding that its $3.5 billion of federal funding did not provide taxpayers with value for money.
“But WestConnex is an even worse deal for suburban motorists, who will be expected to pay much of the $17 billion cost — for what is essentially an inner-city road freight scheme, designed to increase truck productivity between Sydney's port and industrial areas.”
So who will benefit from WestConnex?
The road freight industry will obviously benefit, as the new tolls clear traffic from truck routes. But the main beneficiary will be the future corporate owner. For a fire-sale price, it will gain an asset with guaranteed income increasing at above-inflation rates until 2060.
Given the choice, most commuters would prefer a fast, comfortable rail service that takes them straight into the heart of the city, than to be charged $27 each day to drive through an airless tunnel and congested roads. If more commuters switched to public transport, space on the road network would be freed for those who need to drive and the need for WestConnex would disappear.