Rally calls for royal commission into Transport Infrastructure NSW

People are calling for a royal commission into transport infrastructure and planning in NSW

Several hundred people gathered in the historic Thompson Square, in the town of Windsor, north-west of Sydney on July 22 to demand a royal commission into transport infrastructure and planning in NSW.

The rally was organised by CAWB (Community Action for Windsor Bridge) — Save Windsor from the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority). CAWB is a grassroots organisation that has been fighting for five years against NSW government plans to demolish the historic Windsor Bridge for a major arterial road, which will also destroy historic Thompson Square, the oldest square in Australia.

Not only would this proposal be destructive to the unique and fragile heritage of an important part of Australia's history, it would also be an ineffective solution to the area's ever increasing transport demands.

CAWB has maintained a community information tent in Thompson Square for the five years of the campaign, and celebrated the milestone with a large cake, distributed to the people attending. The event was supported by a number of other community action groups, fighting similar plans by the NSW Coalition government for roadway development threatening social and environmental destruction in their areas.

Kathryn Williams from the Bells Line of Road Community Action Group described its campaign against a roadway project aimed at increasing truck traffic in their area.

"Any development in the Hawkesbury must be environmentally sustainable," she said. "At the moment, development is being determined by private developers, not communities. Infrastructure projects should be based on extensive consultation.

"Things need to change. Just like with the banks, we need a royal commission into transport planning in NSW."

Adrienne Shilling from No WestConnex-Public Transport said: "Right now, the state government is driving a huge expansion of tollways into inner city Sydney. At stake is the destruction of our city and large swathes of NSW. The Inner West is like a war zone at present. All the money for these road tollways is being leached from public transport.

"The majority of the Sydney Motor Corporation, which is building WestConnex, is now up for sale to the private sector. The government is going ahead with the sale, despite the favoured bidder TransUrban being investigated as a monopoly by the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission].

"Nevertheless, Stage 3 of WestConnex has not yet begun to be constructed. The idea of a royal commission into transport infrastructure is brilliant. We really must band together on this. We also need to make submissions to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into WestConnex.

"On Saturday August 11, we are holding a CBD Lantern Walk to Fix NSW Transport. Everyone is welcome.”

Other speakers at the rally included: Beatrice Insausti, from the North Richmond and District Community Action; federal Labor MP Susan Templeman; Hawkesbury City Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett; and even "Governor Lachlan Macquarie" made an appearance.

"I commend you for your steadfastness," he said. "Be honourable and unshakeable in defending what is right."

The rally chairperson explained that the call for a royal commission into transport infrastructure had been backed by 24 community action groups so far. A clear majority of Hawkesbury City councillors also oppose the Windsor Bridge demolition plan.

[For more information on the campaign, visit the website or the CAWB Facebook page.]