About NoW (NoWestconnex) Public Transport

NoW (NoWestConnex) Public Transport is a coalition of community groups working to protect our suburbs and environment and promote real solutions for active and public transport. Affiliated groups include Wolli Creek Preservation Society and EcoTransit. Other groups include WestCon Community Action Groups (Haberfield and Ashfield, and Concord and Strathfield chapters), and Save Ashfield Park. These community groups have formed an incorporated association called NoW Public Transport.

- See more at: http://westconnex.info/about/#sthash.NrJEkNzM.dpuf

Stop WestConnex, 33km of toll road destruction planned for Sydney.

No Westconnex: Public Transport is an alliance of groups and individuals from across Sydney campaigning against the WestConnex toll roads and in favour of public transport solutions.

About NoW (NoWestconnex) Public Transport

NoW (NoWestConnex) Public Transport is a coalition of community groups working to protect our suburbs and environment and promote real solutions for active and public transport. Affiliated groups include Wolli Creek Preservation Society and EcoTransit. Other groups include WestCon Community Action Groups (Haberfield and Ashfield, and Concord and Strathfield chapters), and Save Ashfield Park. These community groups have formed an incorporated association called NoW Public Transport.

- See more at: http://westconnex.info/about/#sthash.NrJEkNzM.dpuf
  • From the blog

    When you’re in this deep, stop digging

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    Media Alert: Community responds to Parliamentary Inquiry into Impacts of Westconnex report

    This Inquiry was important because it finally gave a voice to the community and a committee that was prepared to listen to their experiences.
     
    “After more than four years of being ignored and fed lies by WestConnex and the NSW government, it is reassuring and a welcome relief that the Committee listened to us,” says Rhea Liebmann, a spokesperson for the Coalition against WestCONnex.
     
    This report should alarm all citizens of NSW, especially hundreds of thousands impacted by infrastructure projects. It reveals shocking evidence of unacceptable impacts on the quality of life and the health of communities. There was no consideration given to alternatives such as public transport before starting the project and the business case was established retrospectively.  There has been a failure in consultation and complaints procedures, leaving residents helpless.
     
    We welcome some of the findings but completely reject the first finding that WestConnex is: “...a vital and long-overdue addition to the road infrastructure of New South Wales. The committee supports complete construction, including Stage 3 and the Rozelle Interchange.”
     
    It’s not credible, in light of this report, to justify this recommendation. When you are in a hole this deep the first thing to do is stop digging.
     
    “The NSW Gladys Berejiklian government has just granted a $3.9 billion contract to CPB a company that have been involved in all stages of WestConnex. This decision is a recipe for further disaster, and demonstrates the failure of good governance and transparency that we should be able to expect from a modern democracy,” said Rhea Liebmann, spokesperson for CAW.
     
    We agree with the dissenting report by Greens member, Cate Faehrmann, that WestConnex and the planning of other tollways should be halted before more damage is done and a full review conducted in which all alternatives are considered.  There should be a Royal Commission into the many questions that remain unanswered.
     
    As the dissenting report makes clear, the rest of the world is moving in an entirely different direction, finding:  "The committee heard compelling evidence of the benefit to other cities around the world which have chosen not to invest in new motorways and instead invested in reducing car use and improving public transport. If an assessment of alternatives to WestConnex had been completed, then it would have been clear that public funds should have been spent on improving public transport instead."
     
    At a time when the world is trying to take action to prevent a climate crisis, it is extraordinary that the most expensive infrastructure project in Australia’s history has not even considered the impact this thing will have on carbon emissions.
     
    “We’re relieved that the Committee did not accept RMS’s assurances that non filtered ventilation facilities are ‘best practice’ and welcome the recommendation for filtration of stacks. The government told the Inquiry that it could retrofit tunnels with ventilation - it’s time for them to do that on all tunnels in Sydney. Surely the Berejiklian government is not going to wave aside the evidence of senior doctors that say there are “serious health risks, “ said Kathy Calman.
     
    The Inquiry committee finds that transparency and accountability are weakened by privatisation, making it harder to fix weaknesses and problems in infrastructure delivery.  We say that lack of privatisation, lack of transparency, revolving doors between government and private companies are the heart of the problem.
     
    “We will intensify our campaign against destructive, deceptive and unfair tollway policies of the Gladys Berejiklian government from now on until the March election. But if Labor is elected they will inherit an awful mess. Labor needs to step up now and act in the public interest to stop Stage 3 going ahead.”
     
    The failure of logic at the heart of this report is contained in this finding: “Stage 3 of the WestConnex is strategically important to New South Wales and should be constructed, not merely because of the massive financial penalties which would apply were it to be cancelled, but because without Stage 3 the benefits of the WestConnex project as a whole would not be realised“.
     
    The report makes it clear no one knows the true cost of this project, that the ‘success’ of the project relies of continuing forward traffic demand and ongoing privatisation will make all of these issues more acute, while the benefits to the NSW community and the opportunities lost in terms of alternative public transport remain unclear, so why continue?
     
    We call on the government to respond in particular to recommendation 11: That the NSW Government immediately publish a full account of all costs to be incurred by NSW taxpayers if Stage 3 contracts were cancelled.
     
    The Campaign against WestConnex welcomes and agrees with the dissenting report by Greens member Cate Faehrmann. “It’s dangerous and frightening that major infrastructure projects can be sold off before they are even designed, “ said Kathy Calman. “We hope that all the trauma caused by WestConnex will lead to more rigorous planning and assessment in the future.”


    For more information contact:
    Julie Macken: 0400 925 217
    Kathryn Calman: 0421 181 057
    Rhea Liebmann: 0410 517 343

     

    CAW is a network of community groups opposing the WestConnex project.

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    Campaigners call for halt as they wait for Inquiry report release

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    What we don't know about Westconnex is a scandal

    This week has been another bad one for the WestConnex project as the Electrical Trade Union (ETU) were again forced to stop work over safety concerns on the M4 East site and one of the project’s major contractors - Leightons now known as CIMIC - saw a senior ex-executive Peter Gregg found guilty of falsifying company records in relation to an allegedly corrupt $15 million payment during his time at construction giant. The company, which is heavily involved in WestConnex Stage 1 and 2 has been involved in WestConnex since its beginnings in 2013. But next week will probably be even worse.

    The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the impact of the WestConnex Project will publish its report on Monday December 17th . Given a mountain of evidence, we expect the report to reveal a mass of problems with WestConnex. But what the evidence also shows is that the NSW government and WestConnex refused to answer basic questions about the project. This shows a contempt for parliamentary and public accountability and lends weight to community demands for an immediate stop to the project and a Royal Commission into WestConnex.

    The scandal is that despite a huge effort in a very short time, the Inquiry will reveal the community is still no closer to having basic questions answered about this controversial multi-billion dollar private toll-way.

    Spokesperson for the Coalition Against WestConnex Rhea Liebmann says: “It’s shocking that so many questions were not answered and that so much basic information is ‘commercially in confidence’. Nothing less than a Royal Commission will get to the bottom of this white elephant – a project now destined to go down in history as the most expensive and corrupted projects in NSW history. Until then work and funds must stop, when you’re down a hole this big, you need to stop digging. That’s why we welcome Labor's Shadow Spokesperson for WestConnex promise of a Royal Commission if elected.”

    The The Gladys Berejiklian government told the Inquiry it had done 36 business assurance reviews on WestConnex since it released the Strategic Business case at the end of 2015. Although the 2015 version is now very out of date, all further reviews are confidential.

    The following is a list of some of questions asked during the current Inquiry. The refusal to answer is nothing less than contempt for basic parliamentary and public accountability.

     

    Disappearing Sydney Gateway
    The first question asks the most basic question of all: what constitutes the WestConnex project. One of the terms of reference for the inquiry was; (h) the circumstances by which WestConnex and the Sydney Gateway were declared to be separate projects in 2017.

    Question: When was the decision made to make the Sydney Gateway project a separate project with the WestConnex project making a contribution towards it.

    Answer: The WestConnex Delivery Authority was dissolved on 1 October 2015. Subsequently, in November 2015, Roads and Maritime Services began developing a separate business case for Sydney Gateway. Sydney Gateway is not being developed or delivered by Sydney Motorway Corporation – Roads and Maritime Services is the responsible delivery agency, with the WestConnex motorway program contributing $800 million to the road component of Sydney Gateway.

    No exact date was provided and Inquiry government witnesses either professed not to know the date or provided conflicting responses. In fact various players including the RMS CEO Ken Kanofski continued to refer to the Gateway project as part of WestConnex for the next two years. Three years ago RMS were working on a business case that has never been made public.

     

    What’s in the air?
    The second goes to the vital question of safety for school children. There is evidence before the Committee that WestConnex gave assurances to the St Peters P and C Westconnex sub-committee that results of air monitoring would be made available to school committee. The results were never been sent to the school.

    Question: How many Pm10 or Pm2.5 exceedances have been recorded at St Peters School?

    Answer: Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) and its contractors continue to meet all regulatory requirements regarding the publication of air monitoring levels. Changes to PM10 and PM2.5 levels can be caused by broader regional emission events, for example a bushfire, rather than a local emissions source related to the project. SMC and its contractors are continuing to meet all regulatory requirements in the management and reporting of air quality levels as construction on WestConnex continues.

    Note that the SMC does not answer the question. There have been exceedances at St Peters school.

    This is just one point to emerge from evidence on air quality which overall demonstrated that RMS claims to be using ‘best practice’ have no solid foundation.


    Noise and neglect
    The third non-answer reflects the contempt with which WestConnex treats communities in their path.

    Question to Andrew Head, Head of WestConnex:

    You say that WestConnex does everything it can to minimise impacts, so why did you not put in place noise mitigation measures on homes greatly affected by noise generated by the construction phase on the New M5?

    Answer: We are committed to minimising disruption to residents who are living through and impacted by construction. As part of our review of the WestConnex business, we will seek to ensure that we are adhering to all requirements of the New M5 planning conditions of approval, EPA requirements and other requirements relating to mitigation measures.

    Evidence to Inquiry from residents made it clear that impacts are horrendous and that contractors are doing nothing to minimise impacts on residents. The NSW government has contracted out its obligations and on many occasions during the Inquiry, it was clear that there had been a collapse in public accountability and transparency.

     

    How much?
    Finally there is the enormous question of just how much this now private tollway is costing the taxpayers of NSW – a question the organisation still refuses to answer.

    Question to WestConnex CEO, Andrew Head: In respect to stage 3A, you say Lendlease Samsung has been awarded the design and construct… what is the value of the construction part of the contract?

    Answer from Mr Head: Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is currently in contract negotiations for Stage 3B (Rozelle Interchange) construction and has indicated that releasing the value of Stage 3A (mainline tunnels) at this point may impact its commercial negotiations.

    This means that a contract for the Stage 3A M4/M5 that was awarded in June 2018 and is worth billions has not been made public.

    It’s worth remembering that at this point, many believe the cost is now closer to $20 billion than the $16.8 billion put forward by the NSW government. Even the $20 billion estimate does not include the many billions of additional costs that the Committee heard were not included in the WestConnex cost/benefit ratio.

     

    Update
    On Friday December 14th, the government announced that the Stage 3b contract for the Rozelle Interchange had been given to CIMIC (CPB) and John Holland. The only second bidder was paid $20 million to enter the race. CPB is the same company that has caused the noise impacts referred to above. The government has stated that the cost of 3b is $3.9 billion, so the Coalition Against WestConnex assume that $3.3 billion is the cost of the tunnel between St Peters and Haberfield. If the Rozelle Interchange is not finished on time, the government will pay penalties to Transurban that now controls WestConnex.

     

    For further information call:

    Rhea Liebmann: 0410 517 343

    Kathy Calman: 0421 181 057

    Julie Macken: 0400 925 217

     

    Coalition Against WestCONnex is a network of community groups opposing the WestConnex project.

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