Sydney residents and transport users have a real chance tonight to speak directly to a number of senior Labor Party MPs, including federal Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, and call on them to actually oppose the NSW Government's trouble-prone WestConnex infrastructure project.
Ms Plibersek will be hosting a community forum on Thursday, July 12 at the Alexandria Town Hall, in Sydney's inner-west. Alongside her will be Matt Thistlewaite, the federal member for Kingsford-Smith, while the state member for Heffron, Ron Hoenig, was also due to be present at the forum but has apparently dropped out at the last minute.
Community advocacy group No WestConnex: Public Transport (NoW: PT) has recently invited all three MPs to publicly oppose WestConnex, halt its construction if elected and commit to cancelling contracts rushed through by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to build the controversial toll-road motorway.
All three have chosen to stay silent on the issues despite Ms Plibersek previously describing WestConnex as an "absolute monstrosity" and Mr Hoenig recently telling NSW Parliament that he could "think of much more efficient ways to set fire to nearly $20 billion and save the Government the effort of building this atrocity".
At the annual state Labor Party conference a fortnight ago, NSW Labor leader Luke Foley too remained silent on whether his party would actually oppose WestConnex, instead choosing to cynically promise 'cash-backs' for tolls on the M4 to Homebush and M5 West as long as tolls exist. With tolls set to rise by 4% each year, Mr Foley's plan will see taxpayers having to fork out $1 billion by 2060 to pay for the deal.
NoW: PT spokesperson, John Lozano, said:
“On the ABC’s Q&A program this week, Tanya said that when driving around Sydney on a Sunday afternoon is the same as on a weekday at 9:00am, you know we have problems”.
“A few days later, federal Shadow Transport & Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, said that Sydney was on track to become the most tolled city in the world bar none”.
“It’s taken a while for Labor to get on the same page most of Sydney has been on for years, but we are pleased that they now recognise the issue at hand”
“What we need now from Labor is a commitment to solving these issues and articulation of their plan to do so.”
“Tonight’s forum is a great opportunity to get that process started. I'll be there and I urge other concerned citizens to also attend and keep Tanya and her Labor colleagues focused on the task at hand.”
“Unfortunately, Luke Foley's comments about a cash back shows he’s yet to pick up the same book, let alone land on the right page. A cash back scheme does little to relieve congestion or provide for the genuine solution - public and active transport.”
"Out of three Labor MPs, Heffron MP Ron Hoenig has been the most vocal in criticising WestCONnex but is now suddenly unable to attend the forum just a day out from it. Why is that? Is it because his presence could potentially embarrass senior figures like Ms Plibersek?"
"We implore all those concerned about the WestCONnex scam to attend this forum and ask these powerful Labor representatives why they won't stand up to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and take concrete steps to halt this wasteful, inefficient and destructive con that is not supported by any independent transport experts."
SPOKESPEOPLE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW:
John Lozano - NoW: PT
Serkan Ozturk - Founder / Media Consultant, PR 4 THE PPL