ARAG Opening Statement to Upper House WestConnex Inquiry

On behalf of ARAG, I gave the following statement yesterday at the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Impact of WestConnex:

Alexandria is at the junction of the new M5 and M4 – M5 Link. If WestConnex does not work in Alexandria, WestConnex will not work. The M4 – M5 EIS tells us that WestConnex will not work in Alexandria. Even with the airport gateway, speeds dropped to 20 kilometres an hour by 2033, 7 per cent of vehicles “do not reach their destination”. Without the airport gateway, the network is forecast not to be able to accommodate the forecast traffic demand. The forecast traffic demand caused the computer model to become “inoperable”. The modelling for this project rests on unrealistic assumptions. For example, exit blocking constraints — congestion outside the study area — was removed. The Sydney Gateway was modelled without having a route known. Traffic in Alexandria already crawls. On many streets it is literally faster to walk than to drive. For the WestConnex to work on Alexandria streets, which are already full, they need to carry an extra 60,000 cars a day in an area which is congested and experiencing a rapid increase in population. Funnelling more cars into gridlocked streets is the wrong prescription — RMS knows this; 40 years of traffic research shows this.
The Government is wasting our taxpayer dollars on the wrong solution. This is clear from the WestConnex business case. Why was this allowed to happen? This is what we want from this inquiry. As citizens of this State, we have not been able to find out. The Government has used and abused its powers to keep the project beyond scrutiny. Our submission lists some of the information the public should be able to access, but which has been denied to us. We urge you as the Committee to unearth this information on behalf of us, the citizens and taxpayers of the State, who are watching our health, our houses, our open spaces and our quality of life and our community fabric being destroyed for a project which the Government’s own documentation shows cannot work. The way we calculate costs and benefits is broken. If our democracy worked as a democracy should , with checks and balances, I would not have to be here today.

The full transcript (draft), including questions and answers is available here. The full and final set of transcripts will appear here over time.

There is one more day of hearings, this Monday. Witnesses to appear include Clover Moore, Michelle Zeibots, Dennis Cliche, and more. Hearings are open to the public, and will be streamed live.