WestConnex

“The revelation that Sydney is set to become the ‘toll road capital of the world’ shows the madness,” said Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Stanmore ward in the September Inner West Council elections.

“The disastrous $17 billion WestConnex tollway is just the latest in a string of tollroads around the city, and should be halted immediately,” she told Green Left Weekly on July 15

The biggest privatisation scam in NSW history is about to start as the NSW Coalition government prepares to sell off the $17 billion WestConnex tollway. The government and its project adviser Goldman Sachs are expected to start a market-testing exercise, with a deadline of October for expressions of interest from major private corporations.

Residents’ groups from Sydney's west and inner-west came together in a protest outside NSW Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres’ electorate office in Penrith on June 5. New tolls are about to be introduced on the M4 motorway as part of the giant tollway and tunnel scam that is WestConnex.

Commuters from western Sydney will be charged $2000 a year in the new M4 tolls, according to a letter from Penrith Valley Community Unions NSW (PVCU) that was delivered to Ayres' office.

The City of Sydney has put forward an alternative proposal for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project.

Based on the original design for the motorway project, the alternative proposal offers a more direct motorway route to Port Botany and Sydney Airport for traffic from the west of the city.

The City of Sydney claims this alternative model will reduce congestion and remove the need for expensive tolls, while saving the NSW taxpayers billions of dollars.

In a recent public discussion, campaigners against WestConnex — the huge motorway and tunnel project in Sydney — were challenged to sum up their case against WestConnex in three sentences. “Start with what the proponents of WestConnex say will be the benefit of the project then say what is wrong with it.”

There were half a dozen seasoned anti-WestConnex activists in the room and each came back with much more than three sentences.

Residents and supporters held a protest in Sydney Park on May 6, when contractors for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway moved in to destroy more trees for the St Peters interchange.

The works are part of the project's push to remove more than 800 trees in Sydney Park, St Peters and Alexandria to allow widening of roads around the planned interchange.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore has announced the Sydney City Council will permanently close council-owned roads to restrict the impact of traffic from the controversial WestConnex tollway on local residents.

Burrowing under the metropolis, winding through neighbourhoods and consuming green spaces, kilometres of bleak bitumen motorways provide the superstructure for the outdated combustion engine to travel further.

According to University of Technology Sydney, vehicles are traveling 25% further, which equates to 25% more pollutants and 25% more impact on communities and the environment. “Induced traffic” is the phenomenon that when roads are built people switch from public transport to roads and, in the age of climate change, roads congest, choke and gridlock Australian cities.

Dozens of residents and supporters protested on April 26 and 27 in Euston Road, Alexandria, against the destruction of more than 70 trees as part of road widening works for the controversial WestConnex St Peters Interchange.

The destruction is part of work to widen Euston Road from four lanes to seven. The plan would bring about 70,000 cars and trucks a day to within 180cm of more than 90 apartments and townhouses.

The total cost of building the controversial WestConnex tollway, plus necessary connecting roads, could reach $45 billion, according to an analysis by the Sydney City Council. The council's analysis adds the estimated $29 billion cost of building and widening new and existing roads to support traffic flows from the 33-kilometre project, to the $17 billion cost of WestConnex itself.

Opponents of the $16.8bn WestConnex tollway project held a lively protest outside NSW Parliament on April 6 built around two demands: Not another cent for WestConnex; and No new tolls. 

The rally was called by a broad coalition of local groups opposed to WestConnex and to the new tolls that will soon be imposed on the M4 to help pay for Stage 3 of this disastrous motorway project. It featured speakers from Labor, the Greens, the Clover Moore Team in Sydney City Council and Unions NSW.

When the federal government needed advice on the terms of a $2 billion loan to the NSW government for its WestConnex tollway, it outsourced the advice to the private sector. With the increasing privatisation of public service, there was nothing unusual about that.

What was surprising is that the companies it chose were already heavily involved in working on WestConnex for the NSW government.

The NSW government wanted the $2 billion concessional loan for Westconnex Stage 2 and a massive interchange next to Sydney Park in St Peters.

Students and academics at the University of New South Wales have mounted a major exhibition outlining a proposal for a radical redirection of the WestConnex tollway project from road to rail.

The exhibition, Civilise WestConnex, imagines what could be done if Stage 3 of WestConnex was cancelled and the other tunnels already under construction were converted from roads to train lines.

"First Melbourne's East-West Tunnel was stopped by people's power, now the Roe 8 has been stopped in WA. Next to go, WestConnex?" Peter Boyle, an activist in the Newtown Residents Against WestConnex, said on March 13.

He was commenting on the decision by the new Labor premier of Western Australia, Mark McGovern, to order the suspension of all work on the Roe 8 section of the Perth Freight Link after the March 11 state election, which saw the Barnett Liberal government decisively thrown out of office.

The campaign against the NSW Coalition government's controversial WestConnex tollway is mounting. In addition to various locality groups maintaining their protests, a combined rally — “Grand Theft WestConnex — has been called outside NSW State Parliament on March 30 from 4.30pm.

The rally has been endorsed by a number of anti-WestConnex groups, and is seeking further endorsements. The rally is demanding that the $1.6 billion federal loan for WestConnex, which is yet to be paid, be stopped.

Victoria passes Climate Change Act

Victoria’s new Climate Change Act, which was passed on February 23, will set Victoria on the path to zero climate pollution.

The act will establish a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; require five-yearly interim emissions targets from 2020 onwards; improve accountability and transparency on efforts to cut emissions; and ensure all arms of government are factoring climate change impacts and emissions reductions into their decision making and policy setting.

Pages

Subscribe to WestConnex