Green Left speaks to Gabi Brown, who gave evidence behalf of Rozelle Against WestConnex to a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into the controversial Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Links projects.
Residents gathered at several sites near entrances to the environmentally and socially disastrous WestConnex tollway tunnel on July 13 to protest the opening of the NSW Coalition government's signature $27 billion transport nightmare.
Satellite imaging analysis released for the first time on March 13 shows much greater ground settlement and potential property damage from WestConnex tunnelling than predicted by the NSW Coalition government and the environmental impacts statements for the project.
And so it begins. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been hitting the airwaves telling us all how successful she has been at raiding the public pantry and flogging off the spoils.
On the other side of the political divide Labor MP Jo Haylen is busy telling her Summer Hill electorate just how much WestConnex is on the nose — but conveniently neglecting to mention that her party is right behind WestConnex.
An ever growing number of Sydneysiders are now aware that WestConnex will not solve Sydney’s traffic problems — instead it will only worsen the chaos.
Many also see that its $16.8 billion budget has been seriously underestimated: it is more like the $45 billion that SGS Economics, the private contractor engaged by the City of Sydney indicated. This figure includes the additional work needed to connect the tollway with local road networks, costs that were deliberately excluded to downplay the project spend.
“We’re mad as hell and we’re not taking it anymore!” Mary Court, secretary of the Penrith Valley Combined Unions (PVCU) and No M4 Toll, told the Don’t Mess With the West rally on February 16.
“Western Sydney will rise up; we’re not a dumping ground for Sydney’s problems”, Court said. “The ‘toll tax’ on the M4 Motorway is an assault … We are being forced to pay this M4 toll until 2060, increasing at a rate much higher than inflation, to pay for the Coalition state government’s cost blow-outs elsewhere.
“We owe it to future generations to do our best to halt this disastrous project,” Greens MLA for Newtown Jenny Leong told an August 22 public meeting about the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project.
According to Monash University professor Chris Nash, who also addressed the meeting, "It is not too late to stop this project".
"On April 17, the Planning Minister [Anthony Roberts] secretly approved Stage 3 of the WestConnex toll road project. Only 10 days later did they bother to tell the people of NSW about it," activist group No WestConnex: Public Transport (NOWPT) said a statement.
"The project is a scam. The process is fake. The decision is illegitimate."
In this episode I join dozens of community groups from across NSW at the "Fix NSW Transport" rally. The battle between WestConnex and public transport is explored.
To get involved in the campaign: www.facebook.com/NoWestconnex
We can fix the public transport crisis
Community groups opposed to the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project have criticised the recent decision by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to dismiss the 13,000 objections lodged against the WestConnex M4-M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
RMS responses, published by the NSW Department of Planning on February 5, effectively disregarded or rejected serious environmental, health and probity problems with the project.
Local residents rallied with activists from around Sydney as part of the "No M4 toll, Stop WestConnex" campaign on September 18 in Penrith. Protesters marched on the local electoral office of New South Wales Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres.
The protesters delivered more than 2000 letters of opposition to the re-imposed tolls on the widened M4 motorway, which is part of the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project.
In the lead up to the September 9 election for the forcibly amalgamated Inner West Council, Labor candidates are feeling the pressure of strong community opposition to the multi-billion-dollar WestConnex motorway tunnel.