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.

Community groups from across Sydney have condemned the NSW government's announcement that the community consultation period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the M4 East section of the huge WestConnex tollway will be limited to 45 days.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes released the Environmental Impact Statement on September 9.

NSW Greens spokesperson for WestConnex and MP for Newtown Jenny Leong said: “This is the largest, most complex road building project in Australia’s history.

The New South Wales government is preparing a fire sale of state-owned properties around the Sydney Harbour foreshore, on the pretext of funding an upgrade of the Circular Quay ferry wharves.

Premier Mike Baird announced on September 28 that government-owned hotels and office buildings would be sold to raise $200 million for the renovation project.

Rather than reducing traffic congestion in Sydney, a report commissioned by the Leichhardt Council has found that the giant WestConnex tollway project will increase traffic problems in the city's inner west.

The report, which analysed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the M4 East component of WestConnex — a tunnel from Concord to Ashfield — was released on October 20.

When Liberal MP Jamie Briggs was in Hong Kong and was not busy making unwanted advances on public servants, he was meeting with private rail operator MTR. This aspect of his travels should also be under scrutiny.

WestConnex is a $17 billion, 33 kilometre toll road proposed by the New South Wales government and backed by the federal government. Its tunnels, multi-layered interchanges and four to six lane highways will cut a swathe through the inner west of Sydney.

Pauline Lockie is a spokesperson for the WestConnex Action Group, one of the groups opposing the project. This is an edited version of a speech she gave at the Rally for Fair Fares in Sydney on June 21.

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In the recent controversy over the proposed sale of key NSW state-owned electricity company Ausgrid to Chinese bidders, the primary issue seems to have been lost: a vital public asset such as Ausgrid should not be privatised in the first place, whoever the potential buyers might be.

A storm broke out over the planned sale of Ausgrid by the state government to either of two Chinese corporations: the government-owned State Grid Corporation of China; or the privately-owned Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure Group (CKI), controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing.

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.

A new front in the battle against WestCONnex has opened up with the beginning of preparatory works at the Alexandria Landfill adjacent to Sydney Park in the inner west suburb of St Peters.

The landfill was chosen last year to be the site of a WestCONnex interchange, spewing anywhere between 30,000 to 100,000 cars a day into congested inner south-west streets.

Nearby residents are in uproar when they found out last week that asbestos would be removed. This is despite the Environmental Impact Statement not having been released, or approval granted, for that stage of WestCONnex.

Several hundred residents and supporters rallied in Ashfield Park, in Sydney’s inner west, on February 9 to protest against the WestConnex road development.

Rally organisers said: "WestConnex intends to widen Parramatta Road in order to create an entrance to the planned westbound tunnel under Parramatta Road. We stand to lose a 10-20 metre stretch of Ashfield Park.

"Ashfield Park may be used as a depot for trucks and heavy machinery for up to seven years. Now is the time to protest."


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