WestConnex

A coalition of anti-tollway groups has called for a mass rally early next year to bring together communities fighting against the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway and other disastrous road projects being pushed by the NSW Coalition government. The rally is planned for February 17 at 2pm.

A rally outside NSW Parliament on November 22 delivered more than 5000 letters to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, calling her to halt the controversial WestConnex tollway and initiate a thorough review of the wasteful $18 billion project.

Greens MPs Jenny Leong and Jamie Parker, City of Sydney Deputy Mayor Jess Miller, independent MP Alex Greenwich and Inner West councillor Pauline Lockie called on the NSW government to listen to the growing opposition.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is set to reap $16.5 million in NSW taxpayers' funds for a mere 11 months work as financial advisor to the state government on privatisation of the controversial $16.8 billion WestConnex tollway. The money will be paid for work between August this year and next July, in flogging off 51% of the Sydney Motor Corporation (SMC) which is building WestConnex.

The corporate vampires are circling as the sell-off process advances, with Transurban the favorite to buy WestConnex. Transurban already owns most of the toll roads in Sydney.

In an astounding display of bureaucratic arrogance, the chief of the company building the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway complex described the reintroduction of tolls on the widened M4 motorway as "exciting", while dismissing concerns about the health impacts of exhaust ventilation stacks planned for the route of the WestConnex tunnels.

In some sort of sick joke, residents of the inner west suburbs of St Peters and Haberfield have been sent earplugs by WestConnex after complaints to it about the incessant and loud noise caused by the construction of this controversial $17 billion tollway.

The Coalition Against WestConnex (CAW) hand-delivered more than 10,000 written submissions and community objections to the WestConnex M4-M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Planning Department’s head office on October 16.

Spokesperson for WestConnex Action Group and No WestConnex: Public Transport Anne Picot said: “This unprecedented number of objections to the Stage 3 EIS represents the strength of opposition to WestConnex, and the traffic inducing M4-M5 Link. We are confident that thousands more objections have been lodged on-line.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by Greens MP Jamie Parker over her 2012 decision to grant a 20-year lease extension on government-owned land in Leichhardt without going to public tender.

Anti-motorway community group Leichhardt Against WestConnex (LAW) has demanded that negotiations to buy the contentious Dan Murphy’s bottleshop site in Darley Road for use as a mid-tunnel dive site for the WestConnex M4-M5 Link must stop until details of its lease to a private company are independently examined.

An extraordinary Inner West Council meeting called by Greens councillors on October 3 to discuss supporting residents’ groups’ campaign against the WestConnex tollway project resulted in very little.

The Labor Mayor Darcy Byrne dominated the five-hour meeting, filibustering to prevent four motions from being discussed. Byrne, who regularly proclaims that “democracy has been restored to council”, insisted that his motions in the form of two “Mayoral minutes”, which had not been circulated, take centre stage.

Phil Bradley, the first Greens councillor elected to Parramatta Council, knows the next period will be a testing time.

TThe NSW state government is attempting to carry out the privatisation of its controversial $16.8 billion Westconnex tollway project in relative secret under pressure from the growing calls for it to be stopped.

A submission by the Sydney City Council (SCC) claims the government is planning to separate construction of road tunnels for the third stage of WestConnex from the proposed underground spaghetti road junction at Rozelle in an attempt to “de-risk the project” ahead of its sale to private investors.

The former NSW roads minister Duncan Gay has joined the list of recently resigned NSW MPs who have taken lucrative jobs with corporations associated with their former portfolio.

Gay, a former National Party leader, left parliament at the end of July. A parliamentary ethics committee has only just become aware that he is working as an advisor with MU Group — a company bidding for, and winning, NSW government transport contracts.

There was a 6% swing against the Liberal Party in the Inner West Council (IWC) election in Sydney on September 9.

This was a common pattern, reflected in other local elections also conducted then for councils that were forcibly amalgamated by the NSW Liberal government last year.

IWC is the product of the forced amalgamation of the former Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichhardt Council.

Not only is the controversial WestConnex system of motorways and tunnels a social and environmental disaster, the tolls set to be charged by the NSW Coalition government will rip off ordinary motorists on behalf of the giant private roadway companies.

The latest revelation is that the M5 motorway could be tolled for 40 years after 2026, when the existing toll was due to end.

1. We are community activists

We won’t just represent, we will help empower communities by working alongside others against WestConnex, for marriage equality, for sustainability and public housing and by fighting for a local council that is more democratic, transparent and accountable to the community. Socialist councillors in Victoria and West Australia were critical to defeating the East-West Link and Roe 8 motorway projects.

2. Organise to take on corporate greed

Opponents of the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway have continued protesting around the Inner West, as public opinion is turning against the state government's growing network of tollways, road tunnels, exit ramps and polluting smokestacks.

The anti-WestConnex movement is now spreading into opposition to the government's proposed Northern Beaches Link and the planned F6 expansion threatening a section of the Royal National Park to the south.

A toll road spiderweb is spreading across Sydney, with the cost of vehicle journeys set to rise substantially in coming years.

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