2018 Wrap up and the challenge ahead

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2018 was another great year in our ongoing battle to show westCONnex for what it really is: "the biggest waste of public funds for corporate gain in Australian history". Our combined efforts have made westCONnex a toxic project and one of the top NSW election issues.

Here are the key events of 2018 along the way:

January

  • WCX M4 tolls up 4%
  • Leaked documents show F6 to benefit future private owners of WCX
  • State refuses to say how many cars use widened M4
  • Opal 10% fare creep since introduction
  • WCX M5 excavation found dumping to a quarry in Shoalhaven against rules of consent
  • Transport Minister Constance apologises for successive train meltdowns
  • "Fair" Work Commission orders rail workers to abandon strike
  • Transport Minister backflips on naming of Ferry McFerryface ferry after his lie revealed

February

  • High land acquisition costs from Sydney Airport revealed for Sydney Gateway
  • Transurban toll road operator announces tripling of profits
  • Transport Minister confirms privatisation of Inner West buses
  • Over 1000 people march city streets at the Fix NSW Transport rally
  • Anger boils over at public meeting in Newcastle after failed new bus timetable
  • Desane takes RMS to court over WCX property acquisition in Rozelle
  • Malcolm Turnbull meets Trump to push for Australian super to be used for US roads
  • Indicative bids for WCX privatisation reveal massive loss for NSW taxpayers
  • WCX looks to snatch Balmain Leagues Club for massive construction site

March

  • IMF says Australia has overspent on roads, should spend more on public transport
  • Big public meeting in Kogarah calls for a halt to construction and planning of the F6
  • Transport Minister orders new trains from South Korea too wide for tunnels and with backwards facing seats
  • Two more firms in Rozelle join battle against WCX acquisition
  • Leaked cabinet documents show north shore parks and White Bay to be used as construction sites
  • Full scale of destruction for Alexandria to Moore Park road widening for WCX becomes apparent
  • State rejects 8 out of 10 recommendations to make tolls fairer for Sydney motorists
  • Poll reveals half of NSW voters not convinced their journey to work will improve
  • Secret plans revealed to toll harbour bridge and eastern distributor in both directions
  • Angry meeting in North Sydney raises concerns about unfiltered exhaust stacks
  • Stop WCX contingent joins huge Time2Choose climate rally

April

  • Banners over bridges campaign in full swing exposes tolls and super fund complicity, continues all year
  • City of Sydney consults residents about mitigation of massive WCX-induced 120,000 daily influx of cars expected on local streets
  • Protest against WCX Minister Stuart Ayres at Roads Australia corporate lunch
  • Big meeting of outer Sydney residents directs anger at WCX Minister over changed motorway alignments
  • Haberfield Public School parents and local residents rally to protest against construction plans
  • Trump advisors visit NSW to learn more about privatising state assets
  • Acciona light rail builder takes NSW to court
  • Rage Against WCX rally unites groups north, south and west against Western Harbour toll road plans
  • Documents released under FOI show government knew that increasing capacity on Western Line trains would decrease usage of WCX
  • Transport Professor claims NSW using outdated 1950's modelling to justify WCX travel time savings
  • Despite 13,000 objections, Premier Berejiklian quietly approves WCX Stage 3
  • Court rules acquisition of land in Rozelle for WCX invalid and for 'improper purpose'

May

  • Protesters tear up copies of the Stage 3 approval in front of parliament
  • Fix NSW Transport contingent joins May Day march
  • Legislation passes NSW parliament likely to enable Hong Kong MTR unprecedented powers in private metro and property development
  • Port of Newcastle restrictions increasing WCX profits and unnecessary heavy trucks in Sydney
  • Half billion dollar and 1 year delay on WCX M5
  • EPA commences prosecution against CPB WCX contractors for foul odours in St Peters
  • Analysis of new infrastructure projects shows 5200 extra trucks headed to inner west roads daily
  • F6 Stage 1 dubbed 'road to nowhere' dumping traffic in Kogarah
  • Government refuses to investigate high levels of particulate matter at Haberfield school
  • Data shows train delays and overcrowding getting worse under new timetable
  • State future transport vision ignores high speed rail
  • Police operation catches dozens of WCX trucks flouting regulations
  • ACCC warns government not to sell WCX to Transurban due to monopoly concerns
  • Inner West Mayor Byrne threatens to bill state $30 million for creating 'mother of all rat runs'

June

  • Whistleblower warns of staff shortages when Inner West bus privatisation starts
  • F6 Stage 1 drivers to be forced onto WCX and pay extra toll
  • Congested roads overtake aircraft noise as biggest Sydney Airport gripe
  • After collecting 2400 petition signatures and with help from Greens MPs, our demand for a Parliamentary Inquiry into WCX is announced
  • Government backflips on outer Sydney motorway plans
  • Footage emerges of Liberal MP boasting about 'skulduggery' in train station mobility upgrade
  • State spending on private consultants reaches $1.4 billion
  • State ditches plans for WCX tunnel sites in Leichhardt and near Haberfield school
  • Protest at NSW Labor conference calls on party to tear up the WCX contracts

July

  • New regulations come into effect to further restrict the right to protest, 'Day of Defiance' protest pushes back
  • WCX Interchange results in worse congestion on King Georges Rd, government proposes widening
  • NSW Government forced to pay $60 million import duty bill on trains that could've been built locally
  • Transport Minister introduces dangerous $5000 bonus for fastest bus drivers on privatised Inner West services
  • Federal Labor MP Plibersek faces tough questions at WCX meeting in Alexandria
  • Wagga Liberal MP Maguire exposed in corruption inquiry, questions remain over developer insider knowledge of M9 motorway plans
  • Privatisation of WCX delayed due to Transurban monopoly concerns raised by ACCC
  • Narrow WCX M4 off-ramps designed to funnel in more tolls cause dangerous driving conditions
  • Stop WCX campaigners join protest at Windsor calling for Royal Commission into transport planning
  • Work on WCX halted after emergency evacuation system fails
  • Botched upgrades to Sydney Trains signalling system causes another rail meltdown

August

  • Hawkesbury City Council resolves to support the call for a Royal Commission into transport infrastructure planning
  • Community meetings assist residents to write submissions to the WCX inquiry
  • WCX reneges on an agreement to restore Camdenville Park in St Peters
  • Former Roads Minister Duncan Gay's new employer awarded millions in government contracts
  • Campaigners from as far as Wollongong and Newcastle join the Fix NSW Transport Lantern Walk with Clover Moore calling for public transport, not private tollroads
  • Four more rail meltdowns, one blamed on a child's balloon
  • Roads Minister Pavey admits asbestos buried along M4, including within 150m of Penrith primary school
  • Transport for NSW scrambles to stem series of high profile leaks from whistle-blowers
  • Rat-running worsens as drivers avoid WCX M4 tolls
  • New apartments close to a WCX exhaust stack in Arncliffe to have no openable windows
  • Air quality public meeting in Rozelle launches citizen science initiative with home air quality monitor network
  • $81 million cut from Transport for NSW budget
  • Transurban wins control of WCX, taxpayer loses 66 cents in the dollar, ACCC head admits Transurban had privileged access to tolling data in making their bid that competitors did not

September

  • Taxpayers to pay compensation to Transurban in the event of changes or delays with Rozelle interchange
  • Transurban expects 18 month delay for Rozelle interchange
  • Three WCX contractors fined for driving heavy trucks through school zones
  • Supreme court overrules earlier decision and allows Rozelle land acquisition for WCX
  • Roads Minister unable to answer basic questions about WCX
  • WCX M5 contractor in expensive dispute with government over design changes
  • Budget estimates exposes further massive NSW govt selloffs
  • ABC investigation exposes train stations falling far behind accessibility standards
  • WCX airport roads to cost $2.6B and be fully taxpayer funded
  • Liberals lose Wagga by-election, Premier promises to 'listen to the community'
  • Train delays at worst levels in 10 years
  • NSW Treasurer Perrottet tries to switch electorates because his commute takes too long
  • Poll shows fast rail link top priority for NSW voters
  • Labor policy announcement responds to our petition demand to scrap the airport station surcharge
  • Shutdown of Epping-Chatswood rail for downgrade to single deck trains

October

  • Transport Minister says a rail line to the northern beaches is 'never gonna happen'
  • Light rail inquiry reveals more delays, cost blowouts and parallel bus routes removed, reducing overall system capacity
  • New south coast trains actually fit fewer passengers
  • Mt Druitt residents left stranded for hours due to lack of bus services
  • Over one thousand people protest Opera House racing ads approved by WCX minister
  • WCX inquiry hearings start, powerful testimony from residents and experts condemns the project
  • Goldman Sachs advises NSW govt on sale of WCX to Transurban while owning $6 billion share in the company
  • $20 million in compo paid to losing WCX Stage 3B bidder
  • Hundreds join 'rally for public transport' at Regents Park
  • Acciona, firm suing NSW government over light rail, invited to bid to build WCX Sydney Gateway
  • Strathfield area residents' homes cracking due to WCX tunnelling underneath, claims ignored by contractor
  • Illawarra MP labels F6 Stage 1 tollroad a 'stupid project'
  • No M4 Toll rally delivers 2000 more protest letters to WCX Minister’s office in Penrith
  • WHO warns air pollution kills 7 million per year globally
  • Premier heckled in Penrith after refusing to listen to Windsor residents angry about heritage-destroying road project

November

  • Transport expert Dr Zeibots says main reason for building the Western Harbour and Beaches tollroads is to fill and justify WCX Stage 3
  • Plans to take Buruwan Park Annandale for WCX Stage 3 revealed
  • New opposition leader Daley announces policy for free public transport for under 18s
  • NorthCONnex project chief quits amid delays
  • 10,000 people sign petition calling for better South Coast line services
  • City of Sydney exposes inherent bias against pedestrians in crossing wait times
  • Dan Andrews wins Vic election with increased majority after cancelling East West Link tollroad
  • Residents learn that WCX tunnel to be only 20m under houses
  • Inquiry into Newcastle Port announced after reports that restrictions cause unnecessary heavy trucks to subsidise WCX in Sydney
  • Public meeting in Kogarah helps residents write objections for F6 EIS, over 350 submitted online
  • Inner West Mayor initially votes against reimbursing Rozelle Against WCX for printing cost of protest flyers
  • Student climate protests include contingent to Premier’s office demanding public transport options instead of north shore tollroads

December

  • 100 people join snap protest at WCX dive site in Camperdown
  • Treasury documents reveal plan to sell remaining 49% of WCX
  • More Planning Department whistleblowers come forward
  • Auditor General slams NSW electricity privatisation
  • Premier announces further taxpayer subsidies to support private toll road operators
  • Horrific truck accident at Green Square increases calls for shift to rail freight
  • $4 billion contract awarded for WCX Rozelle Interchange, funded by taxpayers with majority control to Transurban
  • WCX Minister reluctantly agrees to meet with Strathfield residents suffering cracked homes
  • WCX Parliamentary Inquiry report finds that the government failed to adequately consider public transport options at the start
  • Greens MLC Faerhmann’s dissenting report states that ‘WCX should never have been approved’, call for a halt to Stage 3 not supported by Liberal or Labor
  • Northern beaches tollroad plans threaten aboriginal heritage
  • Figures show that Australia will fall far short of Paris CO2 targets, partly due to rapidly increasing transport emissions
  • Construction workers forced to evacuate WCX tunnels 3 times due to gas leaks
  • Tax office data shows Transurban pays no tax on $2.6 billion income
  • Government continues to encourage people to 'leave the car at home' on New Year's Eve and catch public transport, another rail fail ensues

 

So, clearly it's been a busy year but the struggle isn't over: westCONnex hasn't been stopped yet. Is it too late? No. The challenge is up to all of us. With the 2019 state election just around the corner it's more important than ever that we continue our efforts.

WestCONnex is spreading its tentacles north and south. We continue to demand that any completed sections of westCONnex be re-purposed for public transport. Public and active transport must come first!

The Parliamentary Inquiry was a great achievement but the conclusions were watered down by the Liberal/National coalition and Labor. We demand a full Royal Commission, overseen by a judge with stronger powers and not liable to political interference. If Labor wants to be taken seriously and show its readiness to govern then it needs to address the big issues with westCONnex and tear up the contracts.

Please join us for these important pre-election rallies:

Don't Mess with the West rally and march
Saturday February 16th, from 1pm
Outside Penrith City Library, 601 High St, Penrith
More details: FB event page


FIX NSW march
Sunday March 3rd, from 1pm
Hyde Park North, Sydney
More details: FB event page

 

If you'd like to support our valuable work in 2019, we would appreciate any donation you can make. Our donation portal is here: 
https://nowpt.nationbuilder.com/one_off_donation

Or if you'd like to volunteer your time, please get in touch here:
http://www.westconnex.info/volunteer