Western Sydney Needs Public Transport, Not a $17 Billion Toll Road

Instead of congratulating itself for spending $17 billion dollars on a toll road that Western Sydney doesn't want or need, the government should scrap Westconnex and invest in public transport. Read our contribution to the debate in NSW Parliament. 


Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 12:30 :45 ): By leave: On behalf of The Greens I contribute to the debate on this motion by addressing some of the furphies in contributions to this debate when it comes to investment in infrastructure in Western Sydney. It is true that money is being spent in Western Sydney. It is true that this Government is spending $16.8 billion on a 33-kilometre motorway that it purports is in the interests of Western Sydney, but when we look more closely at whether or not this infrastructure is what the people of Western Sydney need and whether or not it is in the best interests of the people of Western Sydney to have to spend $16.8 billion on a 33-kilometre motorway without investment in public transport—members of The Nationals hearing this fact may want to look at this plan closely to see if it is the best use of our roads budget—perhaps some of the newspaper headlines sum up the feelings of the residents of Western Sydney.

On 29 January the Sydney Morning Herald headline was "Public transport in Sydney's south west continues to lag behind". On 7 February the headline was "Longer, more crowded train journeys for commuters from parts of Sydney's south". On 21 January the Sydney Morning Herald headline was "Why is Sydney's urban sprawl making us sick: Committee of Sydney report reveals". That article is about a recent Committee of Sydney report that was supposed to investigate the economics of Western Sydney but which actually turned into a health report because of the damning findings that were made. The findings were that health inequities were being entrenched in the people of Western Sydney because of the failure of this Government to invest more in walkable town centres, expanding rail networks, cycle-to-work programs and park-and-ride facilities. The report states that the people who live in Western Sydney are twice as likely as others to die from cardiovascular diseases like heart failure and strokes. This data is from Health Statistics New South Wales. If you overlay a geographical map of the rates of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease with a map of low-density areas and areas with poor public transport access, they are almost identical in our Greater Sydney area.

This Government is investing in road infrastructure that will not only land the people of Western Sydney with expensive tolls and the people of the State with a huge bill for a $16.8 billion motorway but also contribute to the poor health outcomes of people living in Western Sydney because of a failure to invest in rail infrastructure. It is not just the proud inner-city, inner-west lefties, who drink lattes and chardonnay, and who apparently have issues with roads raising these concerns. I can tell members that I am a proud inner-city lefty; I wear that badge with pride. It is not just me saying this. Interestingly, on 7 February, which happens to be my partner's birthday, the Mayor of Penrith John Thain wrote:

But those who live in the "traditionally more affordable" areas on the outskirts of metropolitan Sydney are already paying a heavy price …

He went on to discuss the need for the Government to invest in more connected rail networks and other public transport. The mayor of Penrith and we inner-city lefties agree that this Government has failed the people of Western Sydney by investing in polluting tollways. [Time expired.]


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