Jenny Leong MP on WestConnex Corruption

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has put on the record the extraordinary revelation that Goldman Sachs (the company paid $16.5 in public money to facilitate the sale of the of WestConnex and the Sydney Motorway Corporation), own a $6.2 million share in the company it was sold to.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (12:42): Members in this place and the people of the electorate of Newtown whom I represent will know that on many occasions I have spoken in this Chamber, at public meetings and at actions on the street to expose the scandals and issues involving the polluting toll road disaster that is WestConnex. In the past couple of weeks even I have been shocked by what has come to light. When a local constituent shared with me a link to Michael West's article entitled "Post Mates: State monopoly capitalism fuses government with big business" and I saw what it contained I was beyond appalled, so much so that it is crucial to spend some time putting it on the record. Here are some of the facts: Goldman Sachs was paid $16.5 million of public money to oversee and facilitate the sale of WestConnex and the Sydney Motorway Corporation, the private company established in 2014 to build and manage WestConnex.

The New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government sold off decades-long toll concessions and seven separate roads, as well as the ownership and control of further construction and financing of the project to the Sydney Transport Partners in August this year for $9.3 billion. The sale was obviously a bonanza for Transurban, the major partner in the Sydney Transport Partners consortium, which paid for the controlling 51 per cent interest. Goldman Sachs—wait for it—has a $6.2 million investment in Transurban. In his article, Michael West asked: Was this monumental conflict of interest disclosed? It is unclear; we do not know. Anyone who is listening to this or is aware of this has to start asking: Was the Government aware of this? Did the Premier know? Did the Treasurer know? Did the Minister for WestConnex or Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight know? Who knew this? As Michael West puts it simply and powerfully in his article exposing this connection:

… if Transurban does well, Goldman Sachs does well. Goldman Sachs does well regardless of how the NSW Government fares too, as it reaps fees from taxpayers whatever the outcome ($16.5 million for 11 months' work).

The sale to Transurban was described by Michael West as "securing the stranglehold of one company over Sydney's toll roads". The claims in this article are of huge concern to the residents of Newtown who alerted me to it. Examples of the revolving door connections between these individuals and what is happening here can be seen in the article. The New South Wales roads monopoly is now entirely dominated by the private sector and by private sector appointments. I urge members to look in detail at West's article in which he discusses the impact and the connections with the likes of Philip Gardner and Christopher Swann—people who have revolving door connections with Macquarie Bank, the Sydney Motorway Corporation and Roads and Maritime Services—and others who have connections with former roads Minister Duncan Gay, and the companies and organisations that are now involved.

This is, as we knew from the start, an outrageous transfer of public money into private hands under the guise of solving Sydney's congestion problems. The scandals will continue to be exposed. In highlighting those scandals, I acknowledge the incredible community members who have stood up and spoken out at hearings held as part of the inquiry into WestConnex. Despite all of the outrage and the scandals, incredibly brave, resilient, determined residents, community activists, local representatives and experts have made submissions to the WestConnex inquiry. Despite the odds stacked against them, they have not given up. I particularly acknowledge the residents of the Rozelle community panel who gave evidence—Rozelle Against WestConnex and north‑west Rozelle residents. I acknowledge the Annandale and Leichhardt community panel, NOW Annandale and Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Parents and Citizens [P&C] group.

I give a particular shout-out to Mary Court, the Penrith Valley Community Unions spokesperson, who spoke passionately about the fact that the WestConnex Minister's electorate of Penrith does not want this polluting toll road disaster either. We heard from the Beverly Hills North Progress Association, the Haberfield Association, the Haberfield Public School P&C Association, Newtown Residents Against WestConnex, Alexandria Residents' Action Group and Camperdown Residents Against WestConnex. I also acknowledge the incredible contributions from the residents of St Peters, the WestConnex Action Group, and the moving and heartbreaking evidence provided by former residents of St Peters whose homes have been taken by this Liberal‑Nationals Government, which is doing nothing but using public money to serve its own interests. It is despicable.

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