Friday, 9 October 2015

Open letter to Tanya Plibersek regarding WestConnex

Recently Tanya weighed in on the WestConnex debate with a post on her website. What follows below is WestCONnex Direct Action's response.

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Tanya, your emphasis on Newtown suggests that the problem is isolated. It's not. The whole project is wrong. It's the central idea of radial motorways into urban centers that needs to be challenged.

Back in 1980, Neville Wran commissioned the Kyeemagh-Chullora road inquiry which concluded as much. You can see an interview with Justice Kirby here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16zL7h2jh-g
Similar studies and experts will tell you the same thing.

By stating "As it stands, WestConnex cannot and should not proceed" you leave open the possibility that WestConnex should proceed in a modified form. Well, that is just a restatement of Labor policy. That policy merely removes stage 3 of the motorway but leaves the M4 and M5 extensions intact. In fact the ALP supports running the M4 all the way into the CBD which is absurd. The approximate cost would probably be only a little less than the current $15 billion. Let's not forget it was Julia Gillard who first funded WestConnex when she did her listening tour of western Sydney:
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/west/pm-julia-gillard-pledges-1bn-for-westconnex-project/story-fngr8i5s-1226590150180

It's clear you are not deviating from the party line, in contrast to Jo Haylen or Linda Scott.

You say "Public transport must be a major and integrated part of any infrastructure strategy." That is a total apple-pie statement that no-one would disagree with. The point is to back it up by opposing WestConnex and putting up a detailed public transport alternative, such as community groups like Ecotransit have done. Labor's recent big announcement of federal support for public transport should have included this.

Finally, you deflect attention from Federal support of WestConnex by urging the community to lobby State government. Although clearly State Government undoubtedly plays a major role, it's what you are doing at the Federal level that we are interested to know.

Labor should support the withdrawal of all federal funds for WestConnex and campaign actively against the whole project, particularly in the senate where cross-bench support may get a majority. Labor electoral success in inner Sydney will depend on it.


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

St Peters WestCONnex 'Crown of Thorns' interchange


Alexandria landfill, St Peters - the proposed site of a vast WestCONnex interchange.
Halting construction here will be a key battleground in the struggle against WestCONnex. See the photos belows for the main features and entry and exit points.
The landfill is on a block nearly 1 km square bounded primarily by the Princes Hwy, Canal Rd, Burrows Rd and Campbell St/Rd.
The main exit/entry point is on the NE side close to Campbell Rd. The exact address there is 16-20 Albert St. It is a double gate with a holding area in between. This is where the asbestos laden trucks are coming out. From there they go straight ahead and turn left into Campbell St, before heading up Edgeware Rd past St Pius school.
There are two other operational gates, one on nearby Holland St, the other on Burrows Rd. They appear to be used primarily for support vehicles.
There is a disused gate on Canal Rd too.
There best vantage point to see the entire site is from the rear of the carpark in between 238 and 310 Princes Hwy. Other views are possible from the back of the adjacent KFC or scrambling onto a railing next to the big billboards closer to Canal Rd.
The waste loads all appear to be in double trucks that have stickers on the side such as WC052 with a different 3 digit number.
The approved hours of work are 7am to 6pm from Monday to Friday and 7.30am to 4pm on Saturday.
We envision that one day the land will be remediated, there will be a new train station, social housing and an extension of Sydney Park. There will also be interpretive signage explaining how the community rose up and took control. Make it so.
Main entrance at 10-16 Albert St.

Google maps

Note the inner gates.

Just to the left of the entrance

Holland St entrance. There is another gate further inside.

Burrows Rd gate

 Burrows Rd gate close up

 Disused Canal Rd gate

View from next to billboards on Princes Hwy

View from behind 310 Princes Hwy. It looks like construction has started prior to approval.

Truck WC052

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Jodi McKay MP Misleads Stop WestConnex Rally


Jodi McKay MP Misleads Stop WestConnex Rally

by Andrew Chuter

11/7/2015


Labor shadow minister for Roads, Jodi McKay MP misled a crowd of several hundred at a stop WestConnex rally in Concord, Sydney, last weekend. This comes after a series of town hall meetings and innovative rallies organised by resident activists along the length of the proposed $15 billion plus, 33km WestConnex tollway.

Despite the LNP retaining power in the March NSW election and proceeding with the project, citizen opposition has grown, and campaigners have intensified their activities. Realising the need to increase awareness further outwards from the inner city, meetings and actions are being held in Kingsgrove, Beverly Hills, Burwood and Concord. This has been helped by the post-election revelations of acquisitions of hundreds of homes and toxic stacks along the lengths of the M4 and M5 east components.


Kathy Calman, resident activist of Beverly Hills, organised a packed meeting at a church hall in Kingsgrove. Residents there heard from Chris Minns, Labor MP for Kogarah, and Jenny Leong, Greens MP for Newtown. Immediately after proceedings, locals queued to sign the petition organised by Leong calling for a halt to construction and a parliamentary inquiry. Minns however wrote an editorial the next day supporting WestConnex and lambasting the Greens.

At Leichhardt Town Hall in June, another packed meeting heard from a panel of speakers, including John Mant, Dr Mehreen Faruqi and Dr Jude Page. Page, a medical doctor, spoke about respiratory illnesses and carcinogenic PM2.5 diesel particulates; Faruqi, a Greens MLC, opposed the entire project, and detailed the gutting of engineering expertise in the NSW public service resulting in bad decisions and cost overruns on infrastructure projects. Mant, who formerly worked for PM Gough Whitlam, drew analogies with Alice in Wonderland and the Emperor’s New Clothes.


The meeting turned sour however when McKay spoke.


McKay raised serious concerns over the toxic stacks and home acquisitions, going so far as to support the parliamentary inquiry, but stopped short of opposing WestConnex. This was in contrast to her colleague Jo Haylen MP, who has gone further and appears to hold a position counter to state Labor policy. A number of anti-freeway activists involved in the Fig St, Ultimo confrontations in the 70's were in the audience and asked McKay why she supported the project in principle.



McKay merely shrugged and failed to answer the question.

https://youtu.be/jJc3WtpZPAA?t=46s





The meeting then unanimously passed strong motions of opposition to all of WestConnex.

Similar motions have now been passed at a growing number of public meetings, by resident action groups and now four local councils – City of Sydney, Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield.

An innovative history walk was held a fortnight ago in St Peters, called Jurassic Car Park. Hosted by Reclaim the Streets’ artist/activist/urban visionary Chris Lego, it toured the neighborhood with a mixture of activities including an Elvis impersonator, performance poetry, speeches from resident activist Pauline Lockie and journalist Wendy Bacon, and a treasure hunt for children. RtS events occupy a productive nexus between street fair and protest where many hearts and minds are won over to the stop WestConnex cause, whilst building community.

Then most recently, a rally was held in Concord, where many homes will be lost due to a traffic interchange, and about 2 hectares of open space at Cintra Hockey field cannibalised at the centre point of the M4 east tunnelling. Joining the rally in their first public event was a new group CAW - Cyclists Against WestConnex, organised by myself. Our small group of cyclists rode in a 'critical mass' style convoy starting from Sydney Park to meet the Concord rally.




Cycling to such rallies embodies the alternatives to WestConnex at the same time as participating in protests. We intend to hold more group rides to future WestConnex rallies, hold loop rides on the first Sunday of each month from Sydney Park, and support direct actions. There is safety in numbers so please join in.



At the Concord rally, Dr Michelle Zeibots, traffic expert, told the hundreds present to continue campaigning against the entire WestConnex, and not just settle for modifications. In contrast McKay said that it was going ahead regardless but she would work to get parts moved and the toxic stacks filtered.

Perhaps as a result of sustained social media pressure since McKay’s June failure to justify the ALP’s in-principle support for WestConnex, she claimed that it would reduce traffic on Parramatta Rd. This was known to be untrue by many in the crowd, having read the official Environmental Impact Statement which states that daily vehicles would increase from 44,000 to 59,000. In the end McKay was jeered off the podium with a chant of ‘Jodi McKay! Don’t betray!’



Leong spoke next and was received with cheers when denouncing WestConnex and its proponents in strong terms. She urged the crowd to continue the fight and sign the petition. Local mother Amanda Bull also spoke with great passion and force. 

Speaking to me while milling around, Jo Haylen urged me just to 'fight WestConnex and not bother trying to change the Labor Party - I've been trying for 20 years'. This jaded resignation does little to inspire support and makes one question the force of her opposition to the tollway. Evidence from the successful East-West link campaign in Melbourne indicates that keeping up the pressure on Labor is effective and that indeed Labor can be changed and subsequently win elections.



Other parents from Haberfield Primary School were moved to tears when talking about the effects on their own children and those at The Infant’s Home, in Ashfield. Many in the area already have respiratory illnesses and the 2500 that are treated at The Infant’s Home have complex health and family issues. They will be placed in the shadow of a toxic exhaust stack should the M4 East be built.


Also present at the rally were a number of Councillors from nearby LGA's. Speaking to Greens Clr Pauline Tyrrell of Canada Bay, she was not hopeful that her council would join the other 4 already fully opposed to WestConnex, despite Greens and Labor holding a majority. 'The only effect on Canada Bay is the loss of Cintra Hockey field', she claimed while neglecting to mention the $3000 share every man, woman and child in NSW would have to pay to build the tollway through taxes or tolls. Stronger resident pressure on councils will be needed to bring more of them to full opposition.

After the Concord rally, Jodi McKay stated the she had previously read the EIS, which contradicted her earlier statement. Despite calls to apologise or acknowledge this error, she has thus far failed to do so.

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Addendum: Another ALP parliamentarian readers may wish to pressure is Penny Sharpe. Please sign this petition here: https://www.change.org/p/penny-sharpe-oppose-westconnex

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Ashfield Council online petition forces strong WestConnex motions.

A targeted change.org petition was run in the 6 hours leading up to the council meeting. Recognising that the proposed motions were weaker than those passed in the City of Sydney, Leichhardt and Marrickville, some stronger demands were made. As a result of the petition, items 2 & 3 were inserted and they were passed by the majority. All the Liberal councillors voted against.


MAYORAL MINUTES IMPACT OF WESTCONNEX ON THE ASHFIELD COMMUNITY. MM26/2015

Mr Chris Elenor addressed the meeting, commencing at 7.49pm and concluding at 7.55pm.

Councillors Passas and Raciti returned to the meeting at 8.00pm. Councillor Passas left the meeting, the time being 8.02pm. Councillor Cassidy PSM left the meeting, the time being 8.07pm and returned at 8.10pm.

RESOLVED: McKenna OAM

1. Ashfield Council does not support the WestConnex project as a solution to the traffic on Parramatta Rd.

2. Council calls for an immediate halt to tenders, acquisition and construction until the full WestConnex business case is released.

3. Council calls for a parliamentary inquiry into WestConnex.

4. Ashfield Council supports a significant increase to public transport for western Sydney and the establishment of major park and ride hubs.

5. Council display appropriately worded banners opposing WestConnex highlighting the inappropriate placement of the unfiltered emissions stacks.

6. Council consider distributing corflute posters opposing unfiltered stacks and lack of transport for western Sydney to homeowners on certain streets for display on fences.

7. Council engage a consultant to advise on world’s best practice filtration systems for underground tunnels.

8. Council write to the Premier requesting that;

  • The consultation period for the Environmental Impact Statement be extended to 60 days.
  • Inform Ashfield Council how you intend to mitigate the ‘knock-on’ effect of the increased traffic in suburban streets and Frederick St.
  • Request fairness, courtesy and respect towards the local residents who are required to surrender their homes and businesses to your project. The property owners and renters have been given very short time frames with little consideration of the impact on their lives and the availability of housing stock for purchase or rent in this area. The many business owners will not be able to purchase/rent suitable sites nearby and may be forced out of business or try to establish in another area.
  • That the work-site areas marked on the maps as grey “future land use to be determined” be returned to Ashfield Council in 2019 for open space with a significant contribution towards an indoor sports stadium.
  • Council provide an information session for residents whose properties and businesses are to be compulsorily acquired. 


9. North south bike, walking and green corridor pedestrian connections be completed as a priority for the Greenway and Iron Cove Creek/Dobroyd Canal link from Ashfield Aquatic Centre to Iron Cove.

Items 1 and items 4-9 were voted on separately. A division was called and the voting was as follows:- For the Motion Councillors Stott, Wangmann, Cassidy PSM, Mansour, Wang, Lofts, Drury, A Raiola, M Raiola, Raciti and McKenna OAM. Against the Motion Nil.

Items 2 and 3 were voted on separately A division was called and the voting was as follows:- For the Motion Councillors Stott, Wangmann, Cassidy PSM, Mansour, Wang, Lofts, Drury and McKenna OAM. Against the Motion Councillors A Raiola, M Raiola and Raciti

FINANCIAL IMPACT OF WESTCONNEX ON NSW COMMUNITIES. MM27/2015

RESOLVED: McKenna OAM

That Ashfield Council calls on the Baird Government to be fiscally prudent in how they manage this project. Specifically, they should make commitments not to:

  • Sign taxpayers up to open-ended financial commitments to underwrite WestConnex including ‘patronage risk’ – it should stand on its own feet without burdening future generations of taxpayers to unknown subsidies 
  • agree to ‘right to compete’ clauses that prevent the future development of public transport along the routes of WestConnex 
  • extend the concession period for the private operator beyond 30 years 
  • Increase tolls over the concession period or on other motorways to pay for WestConnex. 
    • As Stage 3 is contingent on the revenue from tolls, how will the project be financed if the revenue from tolls is not realised? 


A division was called and the voting was as follows:- For the Motion Councillors Stott, Wangmann, Cassidy PSM, Mansour, Wang, Lofts, Drury and McKenna OAM. Against the Motion Councillors A Raiola, M Raiola and Raciti.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Petition to Penny Sharpe: Oppose all 3 stages of WestConnex


At the recent NSW state election, Penny Sharpe ran for the seat of Newtown with a policy to 'Stop WestConnex'. Upon looking at the finer detail voters realised that this meant only opposing Stage 3, whilst retaining or extending the other stages.
She was defeated.
Despite promises to the contrary, she nominated to return to the upper house and on the back of a successful change.org campaign petitioning the ALP (at http://chn.ge/1EZjgmK), she did in fact return.
Congratulations Penny.
It is amazing the power that 89 change.org petition signatures can have.
Recognising Penny and the ALP's great responsiveness to online petitions, we the undersigned request that they respect the message sent them by the voters of Newtown by henceforth opposing all 3 stages of WestConnex.
We expect that 89 signatures will be enough to achieve this change.
Please sign the petition here: