Rozelle rally demands halt to WestConnex

Issue 
Protesting WestCONex at Rozelle on June 26. Photo: Zeb Parkes

About 500 people attended a Stop WestCONnex community rally in the inner city suburb of Rozelle on June 26 to call a halt to the project and for an end to federal funding of the controversial tollway.

The rally was organised by the WestCONnex Action Group; No WestConnex: Public Transport; Save Newtown from WestCONnex; Save Ashfield Park; and Rozelle Against WestConnex.

Rally chairperson and anti-WestConnex activist Andrew Chuter read a message from Ken Canning, First Nations activist and Socialist Alliance NSW Senate candidate: "I am sorry I could not join you here today because of a prior engagement out west. But I wish all you people fighting against WestCONnex well. WestCONnex is just another scam by [Premier] Mike Baird and his corporate mates. This man is a serial consorter of people found guilty of corruption in ICAC hearings. By his own laws he should be in jail."

Speakers at the rally included NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker; Greens candidate for the federal seat of Grayndler Jim Casey; investigative journalist Wendy Bacon; and transport expert Dr Michelle Zeibots. Anthony Albanese, Labor MP for Grayndler, attended the event, but was not available to speak.

A group of protesters who had been arrested for occupying a number of houses due for demolition to make way for WestConnex assembled on the stage, to loud applause. They pledged to continue supporting the civil disobedience actions which are increasingly a feature of the campaign.

WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Pauline Lockie said: "Residents were furious to hear how the Baird government has lied to people about the 'benefits' of WestCONnex, when even its own figures show the tollway will fail to ease traffic congestion.

"There was huge support for the rally's call to halt federal funding of WestCONnex — and it was clear this issue will determine the way people vote in the election. Residents know that over $2 billion of the $3.5 billion [former prime minister] Tony Abbott committed to WestCONnex is still yet to be paid — and that this funding can and should be halted to protect our money from being wasted on yet another failed Australian toll road."

No WestConnex: Public Transport spokesperson Paul Jeffery said: "People were flocking to us at the end of the rally to sign up and become actively involved in stopping WestConnex.

"It is clear now that communities across the route are alive to this issue. They're angry, and they're prepared to stand their ground to save our city from WestConnex — a sham tollway designed only to sell us out to toll road companies."

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