BY PETER HEHIR
Perhaps the title of this article refers to the public perception of WestConnex?
The fact that many people are aware that WestConnex won’t solve Sydney’s traffic problems, that it will actually worsen the chaos, is something that is now accepted by an ever-growing number of Sydneysiders.
Or maybe it’s the fact that the $16.8 billion budget has been seriously underestimated and is actually more like the $45 billion that SGS Economics, the private contractor engaged by the City of Sydney, indicated? This figure includes the additional works needed to interface with the local road network, costs that were deliberately excluded to downplay the project spend.
Or could the title of this article point to the massive bill that the Government and the joint venture contractors will ultimately be forced to fork out to many thousands of home owners – who are now (or will soon be) absolutely livid about the structural damage to their homes – should they be successful in the class actions that must inevitably follow?
Could it possibly refer to the hundreds of tonnes of carcinogenic diesel exhaust that will be emitted from the unfiltered stacks each and every year and will undoubtedly wreak havoc on the health of the communities who live adjacent to these killers?
Or maybe that increasing numbers of commuters will refuse to sit in the slow -moving traffic approaching the tunnel exit portals, sucking in the poisoned air, air that is estimated to be 50 times more polluted than the open air?
WestConnex cost blowouts
Does it allude to the inevitable massive cost blowouts that have plagued each and every Government infrastructure project as far back as the Sydney Opera House?
Perhaps the billion dollars that has been paid out of taxpayer’s funds to the operators of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel over the past 16 years, because the actual usage fell well short of the figure the Government had promised, has the public really worried?
Perchance the Neocons can hear the alarm bells ringing because the Cross City Tunnel went belly up twice and had to be bailed out on each occasion using millions of NSW tax dollars?
Or could it be because of what was made public at the WestConnex Parliamentary Inquiry? That governance was non-existent, that AECOM and CIMIC, the multinational contractors, were engaged while they were under investigation overseas for their corrupt dealings?
Is it that the inner west community has realised rat running will have a hugely detrimental impact on the local road network, that the King Street and the Anzac and Iron Cove bridges can’t cope with peak hour traffic now, let alone having to deal with the additional 10,000 trucks a day the business case says we can expect from the tunnels?
Or maybe it points to the fact that both major parties are realising we know they’ve put our money on a dead dog, one that the public just isn’t having a bar of. This is a project, along with the stadiums and NorthConnex, the F6, the Western Harbour Tunnel and the Northern Beaches Link, that should be relegated to its rightful place… in the garbage bin!
This project will undoubtedly be a significant factor in the Berejiklian Government’s expected poor showing in the March election.
Or perhaps it’s because people are really pissed off that public transport alternatives to WestConnex were not only not considered, but that they were deliberately excluded?
Sydneysiders know that our public transport system sucks.
Cruel and despicable act
Forcing people in Western Sydney – who don’t have reasonable access to public transport – to buy a vehicle, earn another $10,000 a year to pay the tolls and pay about the same again in fuel, servicing and on road costs, just so they can get to work, is a cruel and despicable act.
Having to get another job, in an economic climate where there are 16 applicants for every advertised position, just to commute to work in the so-called Lucky Country, is a hugely punishing and brutal impost.
Or perhaps it doesn’t allude to any of these things?
Maybe it refers to them all?
Or could it mean exactly what it says, as hundreds of WestConnex contractors were inundated with a burst sewer system last Wednesday week, sending effluent and 200 members of the Electrical Trades Union scurrying out of the Haberfield tunnels?
This was a cock-up akin to the one that drove these same tunnel workers to the surface on two separate occasions in December because of a major gas leak.
If the WestConnex debacle, corruption, lethal pollution levels and the selling off of our public assets does concern you, then join with your fellow Sydneysiders at the Fix NSW Rally at the Hyde Park North on Sunday 3 March at 1pm.