WestConnex

A map sent to the group No WestConnex: Public transport, not motorways by an insider has revealed plans for Stage 4 of WestConnex. Beginning with the Western Harbour Tunnels, this $11 billion, 22 km tunnel system is being readied before the planning has finished on Stage 2 and without any connection to Sydney Airport.

At least three of Australia's largest infrastructure investors are queuing up to form consortia to bid for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway. CP2, IFM and the favourite, Transurban, are involved, with QIC and AMP Capital said to be likely participants.

Good riddance to former state Liberal Premier Mike "Bad" Baird who announced on January 19 that he was resigning from his position.
 
A year ago, Mike Baird was the most popular politician in the country. By the end of last year ose, suffering one of the biggest falls in opinion polls in Australian political history.
 

On January 11 at 6.30am, tree loppers started felling some of the 500 trees slated for destruction at Sydney Park to make way for WestConnex’s St Peters interchange near the corner of Euston Road and Campbell Street.

Before that, Steffie Leedham had climbed up to a platform connected to three trees. She told Green Left Weekly from the platform that she would stay up there “for as long as it takes to stop WestConnex vandalising Sydney Park”.

Several others tried to stop the felling but were mostly pushed aside by police. At least two were arrested.

Balmain Town Hall was packed out on December 8 with residents angry with the Baird Liberal government's WestCONnex tollway monster. Peter Jones, WestConnex project director of Stage 3 M4-M5 Link, addressed the meeting at the start and took several questions from the floor before leaving.

A community meeting in inner city Newtown, called at short notice to hear from WestConnex and a panel of traffic, heritage and health experts, attracted some 170 people on December 6.

NSW Premier Mike Baird’s vision of “NSW Inc” is under increasing fire as the year ends. Dubbed the “Smiling Assassin”, “Mike the Vandal”, and “Robert Askin with a smiling face”, Baird’s approval ratings have plummeted as a number of his pet projects face rising opposition.

The former Liberal NSW Premier Askin was notoriously corrupt, renowned for his dodgy dealings with developers and his demand that his driver “run over the bastards” during an anti-Vietnam War protest in 1966 against visiting US President Lyndon Johnson.

When it is suddenly announced that an eight-lane toll road is about to be tunnelled underneath a neighbourhood, it is no surprise that the community springs into action.

This is exactly what has happened over the past month in my neighbourhood of Newtown, one of the oldest suburbs of Sydney.

Leichhardt residents and other opponents of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex motorway project picketed a test drilling rig site near Pioneer Park on November 21, preventing the site’s establishment for 24 hours.

Protests continued at the site for several days after that, with information pickets planned every morning over the next week.

Due to route changes announced by Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) in early November, the M4–M5 link tunnel is now slated to go underneath a larger part of Leichhardt than previously proposed.

NSW Premier Mike Baird agreed on November 15 to meet with residents campaigning against the controversial $17 billion tollway WestConnex. His promise came after they staged a sit-in at NSW Parliament House that day.

At the start of question time, three protesters attempted to drop a banner from the gallery that read “No WestCONnex / Baird it’s time to listen”.

The trio then chanted “No WestConnex” and informed MPs that dozens of residents were waiting for Baird to speak to them. They were escorted out by security.

The first time residents in Newtown — one of the oldest suburbs in Sydney — heard of a new Westconnex tunnel route under their homes was when a couple of test drill sites were set up in the neighbourhood. They immediately responded with a series of early morning protests at these sites.

Then an article in the November 11 Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Mike Baird Coalition government had decided to bring forward the construction of an eight-lane tunnel to link the M4 and M5 tollways.

The WestCONnex Action Group (WAG), one of the main residents' groups opposing the NSW Coalition government's $17 billion WestConnex tollway, has slammed the government's latest changes to the controversial project.

Under new plans announced on November 10, the tollway's Camperdown interchange will be scrapped, and the M4–M5 Link tunnel widened and moved further west.

“These latest changes show yet again that the Baird government’s so-called ‘planning’ for WestConnex is a complete farce,” said WAG spokesperson Pauline Lockie.

The NSW Coalition government is under fire again after property owners in Sydney's south-west were hit by a "monumental stuff-up" in which at least 140 new buyers were not told they would be in the path of a future motorway before they bought their properties.

The blunder affects properties purchased between June 27 and October 24 this year that are in or near the planned F6 extension corridor in Sydney's south and the Werrington Arterial project. The Labor opposition has linked the error with the privatisation of the agency responsible, Land and Property Information.

Protesters outside residents being evicted

Contractors for the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project dismantled their Sydney Park construction compound on Euston Road, St Peters, on October 14, following a major community campaign to stop the works.

Residents had mounted a 24-hour-a-day camp beside the site from September 19 after receiving notification that construction, including destruction of trees, would start that day.

The battle over the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project through the inner-western suburbs is heating up.

The Sydney Motorway Corporation has been granted conditional approval by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to commence work in Sydney Park, meaning dozens of trees are set for removal.

Police dragged local residents out of a Sydney Park protest camp at 3am on September 20 so WestConnex contractors working for the private Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) could set up a construction site and begin work destroying thousands of trees in the park.

WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Colin Hesse said: “The police had assured us numerous times that we were camping lawfully on public land, therefore they wouldn’t be taking any action to remove us from the site.

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