New Premier Glayds Berejiklian has taken the unprecedented step of creating a Minister for WestConnex, Stuart Ayres.
This hiving off of WestConnex from the Roads portfolio is an extraordinary move on the part of the Premier which signals that she recognizes that WestConnex is a basket case that needs special oversight to manage the incompetence and bad planning decisions that have plagued the project.
But a new Minister and ministry won’t solve the problem that is WestConnex. It will only increase the huge cost of this deeply flawed project which is currently costing about half a million dollars a kilometre. This is a whooping $16.8 billion total cost.
This 34km dirty tollroad won’t solve Sydney’s traffic or congestion problems. We know this from experience and from transport experts who say that more roads equal more traffic – it’s that simple.
Only fast, efficient and affordable public transport can make ongoing change and make our air cleaner, our existing roads more efficient and our communities more connected. Integration is key and it is completely absent from WestConnex.
WestConnex has and will have irreversible impacts right along the route with hundreds of people given inadequate compensation for the loss of their homes, dangerous increases in toxic pollution and stacks located near homes, schools, parks and sports fields, loss of crucial green spaces and thousands of trees, high tolls and significantly more congestion on local roads.
The planning for WestConnex continues to occur in a knee jerk and secretive way as the government has set up the Sydney Motorway Corporation to do all the work and as a private corporation, we the public can’t get any information on key aspects of this, the largest transport infrastructure project in Australia.
Despite what was written in the last issue of Ciao, the Greens have long promoted and campaigned with the community for world class integrated public transport – there’s nothing confusing in this and our record is there for all to see.
The Greens do not support the ongoing privatisation of public transport as we believe that this is a core service and crucially important all across the state.
Public transport is not a commodity to be bought by consumers – it’s a service.
We will continue to work with community groups like Rozelle Against WestConnex, the WestConnex Action Group and No WestConnex Public Transport to do all we can to protect our communities from the destruction of this polluting private tollway.
Words by Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown. This rant was written in response to last issue’s rant, available at: www.ciaomagazine.com.au/category/opinion/community-rant