While the New South Wales government's disastrous WestConnex tollroad project is facing new challenges, the public campaign against the $17 billion privatised road network continues to grow.
The latest headache for the government came about when chief commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) Lucy Turnbull triggered a public outcry after stating she was unaware of any large-scale destruction of houses in the heritage suburb of Haberfield, precisely as homes were being demolished in the inner-western Sydney suburbs.
Turnbull, whose job involves co-ordinating district plans for the city's neighbourhoods, told ABC Radio on August 16: “I am not aware that there are houses going to be demolished in Haberfield”.
This is despite more than 50 properties having been forcibly acquired by WestConnex in the heritage conservation area.
Haberfield Association president Vincent Crow said it was "both appalling and frightening" that the head of the GSC was unaware of the destruction occurring in the suburb, and invited her to come on a tour of Haberfield.
The state government's project has also hit a new funding hurdle, following the federal government's decision to block the sale of the state-owned electricity corporation Ausgrid to Chinese buyers.
Baird is relying on at least $10 billion from the privatisation of Ausgrid to partly fund WestConnex, and may now struggle to find the necessary funds for the project.
Meanwhile, the community campaign continues. At a public meeting in Alexandria on August 10, City of Sydney mayor Clover Moore committed herself to using council powers to disrupt the WestConnex project by shutting off access to local roads.
Several hundred people attended a "WestConnex: Driving Sydney to Destruction" public gathering organised by the WestConnex Action Group in Sydney Park Pavilion on August 14. Speakers at the rally included Moore, NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, Aboriginal activist Ken Canning and Haberfield resident and anti-WestConnex activist Janet Dandy-Ward.
Anti-WestConnex activists have being tying blue ribbons to hundreds of trees to raise awareness about the more than 1000 trees due to be cut down in Sydney Park alone, and 1400 more for new M5 construction sites, if the project continues.