BY MICHAEL FORNO
On Sunday 20 November more than one hundred concerned locals gathered at Badu Park, Annandale in opposition to WestConnex. The protest was a call to arms to halt the progression of Stage 3 of the WestConnex project, which involves linking the M4 and M5.
Plans include tunnelling under large parts of Sydney’s inner west including Annandale, Leichhardt, Rozelle, Enmore and Erskineville, and building a freeway exit outside Sydney University on Parramatta Road.
The protestors were supported by car horns honks of solidarity from traffic on the surrounding Booth Street and Wigram Road.
Jamie Parker, NSW Greens MP, was among the several speakers addressing the protest audience. Mr Parker has a long held opposition to the WestConnex project.
“It’s been a tough few weeks in parliament, we’ve seen the endangered species legislation abolished, we’ve seen the ICAC commissioner effectively sacked. All of these go to the attitude of this government.
“WestConnex pays witness to the lack of consultation and to the fleecing of people in our community done by this government,” he said.
WestConnex enjoys little popular support in the community and from experts from business and traffic management according to Mr Parker.
“We have not found a single traffic planner who thinks WestConnex is a good idea. Looking at the traffic modeling in Stage 3, it says that at the moment about 20,000 cars go through Broadway each day. Under these proposals it will be 38,000,” he said.
The audience welcomed Mr Parker’s invocation to take a stand against WestConnex’s Stage 3. The final Environmental Impact Statement for Stage 3 is due in early 2017, at which point works will go ahead. Mr Parker said at this point any opposition will be too late.
“Every single person here needs to write letters and emails to the Premier, the Minister and to the Sydney Motorway Corporation opposing this wrong headed project. You need to do that now before Christmas, because when the design comes out early next year it will be way too late.”
“This is not a NIMBY campaign. We’ve fought hard not just against it being in our backyards but in any backyard, that’s what we’re fighting for,” he said.
Former Leichhardt Councillor and outspoken opponent of WestConnex Dr Cassi Plate also addressed the audience.
“Public transport is always the better option,” she said.
“When WestConnex was first proposed, public transport infrastructure was no where on the agenda. Constant clamouring for public transport instead has lead to the current state of the metro and light rail projects, poorly planed and not integrated.
“We have to stop WestConnex altogether, don’t lose heart. People think it’s already happened. It hasn’t, it’s barely started and most importantly it remains unfunded.”
Mr Parker’s final invocation to the crowd was met with broad enthusiasm.
“So we know that we can oppose it, we know that we can be successful and together we can make sure we build a Sydney that is environmentally friendly and public transport focused.
“We can send this government a message that we want to protect what’s special about our community and we’ll stand together to do that.”