By Peter Hehir
In spite of huge resident opposition, in just a few days – while the bulk of the NSW population embraces holiday mode, the black shirts who form the NSW Government, will seal the fate of the Inner West.
The Minister for Planning will again scrawl an illegible signature across the bottom of a document that legitimises Stage 3 B of WestConnex and delivers a huge cash cow to the tollroad operator – and at the same time condemns many of the citizens of the Inner West to an unnecessary, agonising and painful death.
With the flourish of a pen the Rozelle Interchange and the Iron Cove Tunnel – aka Stage 3 B of WestConnex, will become law. Transurban will become the co-owner/operator of Australia’s largest and the most complex road tunnel network ever attempted anywhere in the world; and construction on the Western Harbour Tunnel will then commence long before it is even approved!
After a bitter campaign against idiocy, greed, usury and corruption lasting some fifty years, the writing is finally on the wall; and the words are written in sanguine red. The blood of the unborn, the young, the elderly and of a great many of those who live and work within a couple of kilometres of the tunnel portals and their lethal, unfiltered exhaust stacks – is on their hands.
Rozelle and Lilyfield will ultimately be honeycombed with tunnels, in places three layers deep and four massive exhaust stacks will belch out hundreds of tonnes of carcinogenic diesel exhaust each and every year.
And people will die.
There is no justification for these tunnels, or the tollroads. At least a dozen cities are now demolishing their radial freeways, because they’ve been shown to be totally unworkable. They don’t decrease traffic, they guarantee greater volumes through induced demand. LA is the classic example with 6 hour morning and evening rush hours.
The bottlenecks at White Bay, the Anzac and Iron Cove bridges will worsen. It’ll be even more difficult to enter and leave the Balmain peninsula. Morning and evening peak hour gridlock will be extended on Victoria and Parramatta Roads. King Street Newtown will also be at a standstill for much longer periods.
Pollution hotspots in the vicinity of the portals in St Peters, Haberfield and Rozelle will ensure cancer clusters will develop, just as they did downwind of the plume in Turrella, once the M5 East tunnel and its exhaust stack became operational.
And the denial process will begin again; just as it did there.
The Sydney South West Area Health Service said that the 40% increase in lung cancers in those residing downwind of the Turrella plume was probably due to the proximity to the airport, or it might have been due to the port. But none of the adjacent suburbs showed this alarming increase. In fact the incidence of lung cancers in these suburbs actually fell in line with the State-wide trend, showing a 9% decrease.
They grudgingly admitted that it might also have been due to the plume – but we really can’t be sure. There have been no follow up studies. Could this be because they already knew the answer? Pollution kills. And concentrations of carcinogenic pollution kill concentrations of people.
Make no mistake; both major parties are complicit in this radial tollway tunnel euphoria and the misery that follows; both are hooked on donations from the tollway and developer lobbies, their judgement bought and paid for. And both parties will ultimately be held legally accountable.
The two parties – formed to foster the interests of both capital and labour are bitter about losing political ground in the Inner West. An intelligent, enlightened and informed electorate recognised that neither party could demonstrate a shred of anything even remotely resembling a social or environmental conscience and so turned against them in droves.
The great male moving right show has been on the march here since the seventies, with politicians on both sides of the fence distancing themselves from their base and their core values. This breach of trust could not go unpunished; so it is hardly surprising that their constituents went searching for a political alternative.
The heartland of Labor had had enough, electing two Greens in Balmain and Newtown in a geographic area that lays claim to be the birthplace of the Labor movement. As a past secretary and president of the Rozelle Branch of the ALP, I’m appalled at what the ALP has become. The NSW Branch has finally admitted what we knew all along; that they support WestConnex – clearly demonstrating that myopia, self-interest and feeble mindedness isn’t just restricted to the Neocons.
After 3 years of sitting on the fence with their heads buried in the sand – or more accurately inserted in an unmentionable part of their anatomy, they’ve finally fessed up. But even then they couldn’t tell the whole truth, omitting that ALP support goes back to at least 2010.
The Inner West electorate will get to vent their spleen in March; releasing their anger at being so cynically punished for turning their backs on the major parties.
And I for one hope voters really let fly with a vengeance.