Tag Archives: Transport

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


Jenny Leong heashot

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.

To read about what your local Greens Councillors are doing to fight WestConnex visit the No WestConnex! campaign page on this website, or our Media page.

Labor’s WestConnex – 2002-2011

By Max Phillips, Marrickville Greens Councillor and candidate for Summer Hill.

Labor Party politicians are running around with many different positions on the WestConnex motorway.  Sometimes they support it.  Sometimes they oppose.  Sometimes they oppose it “in its current form”.  Sometimes they just oppose the consequences of the motorway, but not the actual motorway itself.

When Labor were in power, they supported WestConnex – under the names of M4 East, M5 East and the Marrickville Truck Tunnel. WestConnex is not new, it is at least 12 years old. 12 October 2004, Sydney Morning Herald:

A tunnel under Marrickville is the next possible link in Sydney’s road-building program, joining the M4 to Port Botany and eventually creating a tollway from the airport to Strathfield and west to Penrith.

The Marrickville truck tunnel, which would run under Sydenham Road and join Parramatta Road in Lewisham with the Princes Highway at St Peters, may be considered as part of the planning process for the M4 East.A Roads and Traffic Authority options study review into the M4 East says another link is necessary to relieve environmental pressures on Marrickville and provide better connections to Sydney Airport and Port Botany.  […]

Marrickville Council will tonight consider a report recommending the State Government assess the four-kilometre truck tunnel during the preparation of the environmental impact statement for the M4 East.

The Greens have always opposed a new motorway carving up the Inner West.  We believe investment in public transport is a far superior option that will result in a healthier and more liveable city.  The community has also consistently opposed the various motorway plans.

2005 F6 leaflet

In 2009, then Road Minister Michael Daley said: “We would love to build the M4 extension and if we can secure the help of the Federal Government then we will.”  Rather Ironically Michael Daley is now Shadow Roads Minister.

In 2005, the Greens campaigned against the tunnel producing this leaflet to the left. At the 2007 state election the plans were still being developed, but being kept secret by the Labor government.  The Greens were still campaigning against expanded motorways and a tunnel under Marrickville and produced the colour leaflet below.

The map on the back shows you just how similar Labor’s plans were to the current government’s plans.  A tunnel under Ashfield and Haberfield, an interchange somewhere between Lewisham and Annandale, a tunnel that surfaces around Camdenville Park and Campbell Street, St Peters, and finally another motorway to join up with the M5 or an F6 running south through Rockdale.

That’s partly because both the current government and the former Labor government push plans prepared by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) and Treasury.

The RTA just love roads, and their whole aim is to prioritise motor vehicle traffic.  They have a one-track engineering mind which is not necessarily good for Sydney’s transport problems.

Treasury also love roads because much of the costs are privatised with individuals.  They particularly love private toll roads, because then even less burden is on the Treasury.  Building and operating heavy rail or other forms of public transport place a burden on the Treasury, so they do not favour public transport unless forced to by their political masters.

Labor politicians are extremely skilled at ‘narrow-casting’.  Narrow-casting is saying one thing locally to a specific audience (Inner West voters), while saying or doing another thing more broadly.

A classic example of narrow-casting was local Marrickville Labor’s opposition to the third runway at Sydney Airport, while a federal Labor government built the very same third runway.

In 2010, Tempe residents gathered and rallied against an extended M5.  I marched proudly behind the Marrickville Council banner.  In a very orchestrated manoeuvre, local MP Carmel Tebbutt, then Deputy Premier, announced that the project would be abandoned.  Labor had saved Tempe from … Labor’s plans for a motorway – go figure.

Narrow-casting is what Labor are doing now.  Labor candidate for Newtown, Penny Sharpe is horrified by the implications for King Street Newtown of the M5 East, but her position on WestConnex is unclear.  Labor candidate for Summer Hill Jo Haylen says she is against WestConnex “in its current form”, but for the widening of the M4.  Labor Councillor Chris Woods is trying to stop the widening of Campbell Street, St Peters, despite his party’s support for the WestConnex project (presumably the Labor version of WestConnex would magically not have any polluting exhaust stacks or traffic dumping on/off portals.).

Local federal member for Grayndler, Anthony Albanese takes out the hypocrisy award for complaining about the impacts of a motorway to which he offered $1.8 billion towards its construction when he was infrastructure minister.

I don’t begrudge these convoluted positions, and it is good when politicians respond to community sentiment – but it is a bit disingenuous to pretend to be champions against the WestConnex motorway and its various local impacts, when your party actually supports the very same motorway.

I hope voters have long memories and can see Labor trying to walk both sides of the street on WestConnex.

Old tunnel leaflet-small  Old tunnel leaflet-small2

My position on the WestConnex motorway

A speech delivered by Max Phillips, Greens candidate for Summer Hill at a WestConnex meet the candidates public meeting at St David’s Church Haberfield, 19 November 2014

The Greens have a long proud history of opposing the WestConnex motorway in all its various guises.

It was first referred to as the Marrickville Truck Tunnel in the early 2000’s by former Labor Mayor of Marrickville Barry Cotter. The Greens opposed it then. It re-emerged during the Carr and Iemma years, as the M4 East and the M5 East, and the Greens opposed it then. And the Greens unequivocally oppose the WestConnex motorway now.
Building more roads to relieve traffic congestion is a superficially attractive proposition.

However, experience in Australia and overseas shows that it simply does not work. The more you build new roads or expand existing roads, the more cars you attract. That’s not me just making it up.

An academic study by Duranton and Turner, entitled “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities”, found that vehicle kilometres travelled was in lock-step with increased road capacity. They conclude that an increased provision of roads is unlikely to relieve congestion.

I have visited US cities where urban planning has gone off the rails; cities such as Dallas Fort-Worth have been built around the motorway. Motorways absolutely destroy the fabric of a city and tie people closely to their cars. Many smart cities are now dismantling motorways to breath new life into urban areas. It seems crazy for Sydney to build a new motorway through the densely populated Inner West – with the associated health impacts from exhaust stacks, the loss of housing through acquisition, and of course, the extra traffic dumped on local roads.

There are ways to reduce traffic congestion.

We should be investing in public transport. If we put money into public transport to improve frequency, improve accessibility by installing lifts at stations, creating new routes and services, create interconnections between the current hub and spoke routes, then people will get out of their cars and use public transport. The Greens support moving the funds allocated to WestConnex, to public transport.

The other proven way to reduce congestion is to put a price signal on traffic congestion – a congestion charge. In cities such as London, Singapore, Milan and Stockholm, a congestion charge has led to a significant decrease in traffic congestion. In Stockholm, they achieved a 20% drop in traffic congestion after implementing a congestion charge.

A congestion charge can also raise funds to go into public transport and is widely supported by transport academics and economists. It is also supported by social justice organisations such as the NSW Council of Social Services. The Sydney Harbour Bridge already has variable time-of-day charging. While the train system effectively has a congestion charge with higher fares during peak times. Why should people contributing to traffic congestion not pay for the negative externalities they are causing, particularly if it will make the existing road infrastructure run more efficiently and negate the need for more motorways?

While a congestion charge is a controversial idea, I believe that Sydney needs to have a discussion about using congestion charging and investment in public transport, rather than building the WestConnex motorway. To that effect, I have brought a motion to Marrickville Council to support a congestion charge as an alternative to WestConnex.

I am also concerned about the urban development planned in conjunction with the WestConnex motorway. Developers all over Sydney are licking their lips at the prospect of high rise development along Parramatta Road. But I do not think existing infrastructure will cope with such development. Local roads will not cope and cannot be expanded. There is already a shortage of childcare facilities and school places. A new motorway will not solve these problems. Such development will also fundamentally change the character of our existing neighbourhoods.

While Labor might say they are opposed to WestConnex locally or ‘in its current form’, at a broader level they will support the project

On the 4th of November, Shadow Roads Minister Michael Daley was on 2UE radio chastising the government for not going fast enough with delivering WestConnex.

The Greens have been actively supporting the community in opposing the WestConnex motorway. On Marrickville Council the Greens have always strongly opposed the WestConnex motorway, even when other councillors vacillated. In the NSW Parliament we have been trying to pry open the secrecy around the WestConnex project by using the powers of the parliament to obtain documents.

If elected as the Member of Summer Hill, you can be assured that I would continue to be a fierce opponent of WestConnex and pursue smarter solutions to traffic congestion.

Great win for Ashfield Park – now government should protect other parks

Photo: Is Petersham Park safe from the WestConnex motorway?

Marrickville Greens – media release

Greens candidate for Summer Hill, Max Phillips said today the announcement that Ashfield Park would not be used as a portal for the WestConnex motorway was a great win for local people power and common sense.  He called on the NSW Government to make a commitment to protect other parks in the Inner West from the motorway.

“It is fantastic news that Ashfield Park will be protected and it is a great win for people power and common sense,” said Councillor Max Phillips.

“The Greens call on the state government to grant other parks in the path of the WestConnex motorway the same protection as Ashfield Park.  In particular, the government should commit to protecting Petersham Park, Camperdown Park, Camdenville Park, and Tempe Reserve and Wetlands.

“The Inner West has the lowest rates of open space in Australia, so what we do have is precious and should be protected.

“The Greens oppose the WestConnex motorway and believe transport funding should go towards public transport options to relieve traffic congestion in the long term.”

Contact: Max Phillips 0419 444 916

WESTCONNEX financial impact on Council grows

Marrickville Council may have to shelve plans to install billboards on land it owns and forgo up to $352,000 in rental income from those billboards because of the WestConnex Motorway, a report to be debated at Marrickville Council tonight reveals.

Over recent months Marrickville Council has been investigating the possibility of installing billboards on the ‘Tempe Lands’ which back on to the busy Qantas drive adjacent to Sydney Airport.

An initial estimate by council staff suggests these billboards could bring between $144,000 to $352,000 in net rental income to council over their lifetime.

However, this income is now in jeopardy because of the WestConnex Motorway which is likely to be built across the ‘Tempe Lands’.

“The staff report has advised councillors that because of WestConnex the RMS is not likely to allow council to go ahead with the proposed billboards. This news is yet another slug to Council’s budget and further vindicates the Greens calls for WestConnex to be abandoned” said Marrickville Greens Councillor David Leary today.

“In addition to the $23 million in rental income Marrickville Council will lose because of WestConnex revealed by the Greens last month, it now appears council will also lose a major commercial opportunity to install these billboards. How much more will this motorway cost council, local residents and ratepayers?” asked Clr Leary

“It is deeply disturbing that Labor and Liberal councillors on Marrickville council are prepared to put aside council’s financial interests and that of their own community to try and win support in marginal seats elsewhere in Sydney. Motorways are just a bandaid solution to our transport and infrastructure problems and WestConnex is going to have a disastrous effect on Marrickville residents. Councillors should be putting the interests of local residents and ratepayers first” commented Clr Leary.

The report to be debated tonight asks council to consider whether they wish to spend more money investigating the proposed billboards.

Rather than investing in more motorways the Greens have proposed the money to be spent on WestConnex instead be spent on improving public transport.

Media contact: Clr David Leary 0409 421 323

Map Proposed WestConnex Route 2013

Map Proposed WestConnex Route 2013

WESTCONNEX $23 Million Black Hole in Council’s Budget

The WestConnex Motorway is expected to create a black hole in Marrickville Council’s budget of at least $23 million over the next ten years, the Greens have revealed today.“Council owns two industrial sites at Tempe which it leases to commercial tenants. In it’s 10 year financial plan Council has acknowledged that these properties are at risk of being acquired by the State Government as they are situated in a current road reserve” noted Greens Councillor David Leary.

“These properties currently contribute roughly $2.3 million in rental income to council’s budget each year and these properties are at risk of acquisition if WestConnex goes ahead” Greens Councillor David Leary revealed today.

“If you add that up over the Councils next ten year financial planning cycle this could represent in excess of $23 million lost income for council” commented Councillor Leary.

“Would Mayor Macri and the Labor-Liberal alliance increase rates or cuts services to make up this funding shortfall? These are questions they need to answer if they are not going to join the community in opposing WestConnex” explained Councillor Leary

“Marrickville Council will debate a motion initiated by its Cooks River Advisory Committee this Tuesday which calls on it to oppose WestConnex. The revelation of this black hole in council’s finances adds to the growing list of reasons why WestConnex should be opposed outright by Council” said Councillor Leary.

Media contact: Clr David Leary 0409 421 323

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