In an Matter of Public Importance speech to the Senate today, Australian Greens Transport spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon urged the Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese to withdraw federal support for Sydney's WestConnex motorway, and instead develop a targeted funding strategy to boost Sydney's ailing public transport infrastructure. Ms Rhiannon's MPI speech is available on request. Watch the video of her speech.
"Given Sydney's chequered history of disastrous private toll roads, and the recent failures in Brisbane, the federal government should wipe its hands of WestConnex,"Senator Rhiannon said.
"The public has the right to question why Minister Albanese has allocated $25m in federal funding to create a dedicated organisation whose sole purpose is to bring WestConnex and Sydney's myriad of other private motorway proposals to market.
"WestConnex is entirely speculative and looks more like another white elephant than Sydney's highest infrastructure priority.
"There is no evidence or traffic studies to prove its merit as the state's biggest infrastructure priority. Like the Cross City Tunnel before it, the business case and investor pitch has preceded strategic planning and traffic demand modelling.
"Premier O'Farrell is backing WestConnex, but has only put forward $1.8 billion whereas the price tag is anywhere between $10 and $15 billion. How much is being asked of the federal government?
"More roads won't solve the traffic gridlock that grips Sydney. On the long awaited M7 orbital motorway morning peak hour congestion is worse than it was before it opened.
"WestConnex is bad news for Sydneysiders who desperately want governments to fix their ailing public transport system.
"Sydney's transport crisis results from years of high population growth coupled with chronic underinvestment in rail and bus services in greater western Sydney, and the failure to grow innovative light rail and bicycle networks in the inner suburbs.
"When Prime Minister Gillard is in Western Sydney next week she should ask commuters if their priority is a $10 billion road extension built in the inner west in 10 years, or faster more frequent train and bus services for greater Western Sydney.
"Minister Albanese's own constituents don't want another failed motorway tunnel with feeder roads and smoke stacks feeding more traffic congestion into their community.
"I urge the federal government to heed the lessons of history and avoid another costly motorway mistake with WestConnex," said Senator Rhiannon.