NSW Greens spokesperson on WestConnex and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP, spoke in Parliament on Wednesday 4 April 2017, to challenge the myth that WestConnex is a done deal.
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 12:42 ): I bring to the attention of the House two local community events I attended on the weekend protesting against WestConnex. I acknowledge that the Minister for WestConnex is in the Chamber and I am pleased that he will hear firsthand about the events that occurred in my electorate concerning the impact of WestConnex. One event was held at Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Campus, which is represented by my Greens colleague the member for Balmain, Jamie Parker. The other was in the electorate of Newtown, in Camperdown. Both events were held in response to the proposed location of mid-tunnelling points, otherwise known as dive sites.
This is part of stage three of the M4-M5 tunnel, which is the "connects" element of WestConnex—or more accurately described as an eight-lane monstrosity of a tunnel that, according to sketchy plans made available, may or may not connect the M4 with the M5 by tunnelling under Newtown, Camperdown and the inner west. If people are confused they should not be surprised. The reason we are so confused is that WestConnex is an ever-changing, ever-growing, ever-expanding toll road that started as a $10 billion project but has blown out to a $16.8 billion project—and it is still growing.
One thing is clear about WestConnex, and it is not the detail. It is clear that WestConnex is not an answer to Sydney's congestion problems and that the Coalition Government is scattered when it comes to WestConnex. Despite the fact that much of the project is unclear, unplanned, unfunded and still to be tunnelled, some people whom I speak to think it is too late to stop this toll road. Why do they think it is too late? It is because the Minister for WestConnex, who is in the Chamber, and the Sydney Motorway Corporation are doing everything they can to convince people that this is a done deal and that WestConnex is here to stay.
But let us take a step back and consider the options that are available. The Government says that there is the option of locating a dive site next to a secondary high school or locating it in another residential area. It says that there is the option of running a tunnel under heritage homes or under the nuclear facility at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. These are false choices. The reality is that this is not a done deal. The draft designs, the planning process and approval for stage three have not even been released, they have not been approved and the tunnel is not funded. By putting out false decisions the Government is trying to pretend that everything else is done. Let us have a little look at how far we are from the delivery of WestConnex. The M4 east tunnel, a $3.8 billion part of WestConnex, is not due for completion until 2019. How much of this tunnel is complete? It is about two kilometres of the 5.5 kilometre tunnel, which is about 30 per cent.
The new $4.3 billion M5 is not due for completion until 2020. About 20 per cent of that project is completed. The M4-M5 link is a $7.2 billion part of the tunnel. Is it complete? No. Has it been started? No. Have the draft plans been released? No. Does it have planning approval? No. When the Minister seems to suggest that one community should choose this tunnelling point over that tunnelling point, do not be fooled because the planning approval for the tunnel and the funding to make it happen have not yet been established. Do not think it is too late to stop this crazy toll road project. In fact, it is not too late at all. The whole point of WestConnex in the first place was to connect people to the airport, but where are the Sydney gateway plans? The Sydney gateway will connect WestConnex to the airport so people might think the plans are already done and dusted; but, no, the draft designs have not even been released.
Yes, the Government is building a St Peters interchange allegedly at Sydney Park. It is cutting down trees right now, but do we have the plans for how WestConnex will connect to the airport? No. The Sydney gateway plans are not due to be released until the middle of this year. They have not been released as draft designs. The planning approval process has not even been started yet and it is completely uncosted. The expected completion date for that is 2023. On any measure that is a long way off, but on a measure of how quickly we go through Premiers in this State it is a very long way off. Considering the average cycling through of Premiers in New South Wales, we will have had four to five new Premiers by the time the project, on the Government's own figures, is due to be completed. I say to the community that it is not too late. It is not too late to stop this madness that is WestConnex. We can stop the Government putting public money into private hands. We can stop this polluting toll road. Join the campaign; get involved.