Thousands march to stop WestConnex motorway

Issue 
Desmonstrators march through Sydney’s streets on February 1 to protest the WestConnex motorway. Photo: John Appleyard

About 3000 people marched through Sydney's inner-west suburbs of Newtown and St Peters on February 1 to show their opposition to the $12 billion WestConnex motorway project.

The project would destroy 80 homes and bulldoze sections of six local parks. Iconic Sydney Park is projected to lose 12,000 square metres of green space.

WestConnex Action Group and Reclaim the Streets organised the rally.

It was the second large action against the motorway in two months. Many people were galvanised after recently receiving letters that confirmed their homes will be bought to make room for the motorway. They were told they would need to vacate their homes by early next year.

The letters were sent by the WestConnex Delivery Authority even though an environment impact study has not been done.

One of the residents who received the letter, Pauline Lockey, addressed the rally and said: “Roads minister Duncan Gay has said that us residents just need to accept they are in a road reservation so they should just get out.

"I think he was hoping that [by] getting us out of our homes he would shut us up. Well, we are here today to say we are not just 43 homes in a housing reservation. We are a community and we are going to win this campaign. We will not give in to WestConnex."

Twelve-year-old Evie Thompson, who has lived all of her life in one of the streets earmarked for demolition, said: “I have a strong bond with people who live closely. We play games in the street. But if this tollway goes ahead we won't be able to play these games. And yet they have no plan. How can you take our homes without a plan?”

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore pledged her support to the campaign, telling the rally “For $12 billion we could have the world’s best metropolitan rail system.”

Greens candidate for Newtown Jenny Leong noted the state ALPs absence and called on them to firmly oppose the plan.

Socialist Alliance candidate for Summer Hill Susan Price told Green Left Weekly: “A sustained grassroots campaign defeated a similar East West [Link] project in Melbourne. Residents and supporters combined picketing drilling sites, local rallies, mass letterboxing, local meetings plus a court case led by local councils, to defeat the freeway.

“Our campaign is employing similar tactics, and if we maintain this approach, we can also defeat this plan. The state ALP must be shown the community will not back down till they promise, they too will oppose this road. Trains, not tollways, is the transport solution for Sydney.”

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