20 August 2015
(Division, 13 August 2015, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I move, that the motion be amended by omitting all words after "That this House" with a view to inserting instead:
- (1) Notes the importance of scrutinising the WestConnex project.
- (2) Calls on the Government to stop activity on the project until the business case and environmental impact statement has been made available for public scrutiny.
The WestConnex project is Australia's biggest urban road project. It will widen and extend the M4 Western Motorway, create a new section for the M5 South-Western Motorway, and connect the two with a new central business district bypass. The project will cost $15 billion, but many expect blowouts to increase the cost to $20 billion. I support the original motion moved by the member for Newtown because at this time of escalating climate change, growing traffic congestion, eroding air quality and increasing obesity rates, when other countries are transferring their focus from new roads to public and active transport, a full business case and environmental impact statement process must determine whether WestConnex is in the public interest before it proceeds. The massive cost diverts much-needed funds from much-needed public transport projects that could transform Sydney's sustainability and liveability into the future.
We have not seen a business case for the project, and documents and justifications are not publicly available. Contracts are being signed even though an environmental impact statement process has not been commenced. What we do know is that houses will be demolished and much-needed open space will be lost. Last year the City of Sydney commissioned an independent review of the project by SGS Economics and Planning, which concluded that WestConnex will not achieve its stated objectives and will create serious impacts for inner Sydney. The majority of Western Sydney residents use public transport to get to jobs in the central business district, and this is the preference for increasing numbers of Sydneysiders. WestConnex will be a costly way to travel with tolls costing approximately $20 a day and the cost of parking once reaching the city up to $240 a week. That excludes the costs associated with petrol and car maintenance. Nobody wants car dependency. Western Sydney residents would be better off with faster, less crowded and more reliable public transport. Plans for a 24-hour airport at Badgerys Creek will reduce freight load at Sydney Airport and reduce the need for freight links between the west and the airport.
The argument that WestConnex will provide an opportunity to renew Parramatta Road is now redundant, given that the recent route changes involve a portal at Camperdown that will channel large volumes of traffic onto Parramatta Road near the University of Sydney. New vehicles will be spewed into many inner city suburbs, including an additional 10,000 in the central business district where existing traffic levels already create congestion and where historic streets are not designed to accommodate large volumes. The central business district will become unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. Amenity will be eroded and Sydney's global competitiveness will be put at risk.
The overwhelming evidence shows that more roads encourage more traffic; roads are not the solution to congestion. The project must be reconsidered. Public transport and active transport should be the transport focus. The community has not been provided with information to properly assess the project. In addition, the Auditor-General has criticised the business case and raised concerns about conflicts of interest and lack of information to assess the project's economic viability. It is not too late. I commend the motion of the member for Newtown and join calls for activity to cease, information to be released and a real opportunity for public consultation to be provided. I commend the amendment to the amendment to the House.
Read debate and vote HERE