Sydney: Together we can stop WestConnex
By incoming Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong
30 April 2015- This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald
The record-breaking support for the Greens in Newtown and re-election of Jamie Parker in Balmain demonstrates that communities in the inner city want to see world-class public transport – including light rail, accessible train stations, more frequent buses, and integrated cycleways.
Critics of the Greens say because we don’t have the majority of the numbers in the lower house we can’t deliver results. This misguided view doesn’t acknowledge the many strong community campaigns the Greens have been connected with that have shifted the government of the day, stopped the destruction of our heritage, protected our precious green space or seen a positive change in policy.
Jack Mundey – the living legend who led the Green Bans movement that saved The Rocks, public housing, heritage and green space from the developers’ bulldozers – was one of the people to support our Greens campaign for Newtown. Jack recognised the big challenges facing our area, including the threat of WestConnex.
We don’t have to go back to the 1970s to see examples of how strong community campaigns – supported by Greens MPs in parliament and local councillors – can make a difference.
A key tactic in the successful strategy to defeat the East/West Toll Link in Melbourne was to force the government to release details of its business case. When made public, the business case showed that not only was the tollway a bad idea from the perspective of transport but that it was also economically unviable.
That’s why from day one I will be pursuing the Baird Government to make public all details in relation to WestConnex. If they have nothing to hide and back the project, why won’t they make the business case public?
The lack of transparency is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed and something that the Greens at all levels of government will continue to pursue. Given construction is already underway, we can’t wait for the release of documents before we act. We saw the success of non-violent direct action and a grassroots community campaign that stopped the preliminary work in Melbourne and this is a tactic that we should not shy away from here.
Any successful campaign must build alliances – many of these have already started to form across local resident groups along the 33-kilometre West Connex route, collectives such as Reclaim the Streets, public transport advocates, local business associations, and local government. I look forward to working with these tireless advocates, as well as Lord Mayor Clover Moore and local government representatives who share our commitment to sustainable 21st-century transport solutions.
This project cannot go ahead without federal money. The federal election is 18 months away. It’s time for Labor to listen to the community and end their support of the Abbott/Baird obsession with roads.
Promoting and building support for world-class public transport and integrated cycleways will benefit people throughout Sydney. The Greens will continue to advance an alternative transport plan that delivers for the community.
Jenny Leong is incoming Greens MP for Newtown. To visit Jenny’s page go to http://www.jennyleong.org and check out the WestConnex campaign page.