Public Transport

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 from across NSW came out to rally against Westconnex and attacks on public transport on February 17.

An “Act of God”, or lightning, was a key reason for the recent meltdown of Sydney’s rail network, according to transport minister Andrew Constance. He also claimed that the “dark arts of unionism” — presumably some sort of devilry — inspired rail unionists to vote to strike over pay and rosters on January 29.

Politicians may blame God and the Devil for recent transport chaos, but when the dots are joined between different aspects of the government’s transport policy the reality becomes clearer.

The transport system in Australia is in crisis. The push by governments and the private roads lobby to build more tollways, sell off our public transport to the big corporations is worsening services, raising costs and creating a transport impasse for the public.

At the centre of this is the current transport disaster in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney.

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.

As the NSW Coalition government continues to lurch between a growing number of transport-related crises, a number of pro-public transport groups and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are busy organising a “Fix NSW Transport” rally on February 17 in Sydney’s CBD.

The rally is a bold attempt to unite many transport-related campaigns across NSW and ensure that public transport remains a major election issue.

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.

There is a climate emergency. The massive forest fires in Canada, the Lucifer heatwave engulfing southern Europe and Australia experiencing its warmest July on record have all happened within the past fortnight. Yet, Australia’s carbon emissions continue to rise.

The growing movement to prevent the Adani Carmichael coalmine, as well as fossil fuel divestment campaigns, show we are making headway. But activism is not enough.

More than 300 unionists and local residents protested outside the electorate office of Liberal MP for Drummoyne John Sidoti on August 4.

Chanting “John Sidoti’s got to go!” and waving placards opposing the NSW government’s planned privatisation of public buses in the Inner West, the protest elicited much support from passing motorists and pedestrians. There was no response, however, from Sidoti’s office.

Flags from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Australian Services Union (ASU) were prominent.

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.

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