I support the motion as amended by the member for Strathfield. The M4 is a road that is central to the lives of so many of our constituents. The WestConnex project is large and costly. It will have wideranging impacts throughout Sydney—and not all of them are positive. The Government set up the Sydney Motorway Corporation as a so-called "private company" so that it can escape the scrutiny of the Opposition and of journalists. Ordinary members of the public cannot lodge freedom of information requests and see for themselves what this tricky Government is up to.
Our roads are choked with gridlocked traffic every morning. Trains are breaking down, signals are failing throughout the railway network and people in my electorate are being forced to stand for more than an hour every morning and evening as they go to and from work on underfunded, understaffed trains.
The WestConnex project is costing New South Wales taxpayers more than $1.8 billion, which is a staggering amount of money. There must be transparency because the Government is not being honest about the purpose of reintroducing tolls to the M4. Its argument in favour of placing new tolls on an old road is that it is widening it. According to that argument the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight should be camped out under the Leura flyover trying to flag down motorists travelling to Katoomba. He is not doing that because tolling a publicly owned road that has long been toll free is an absurd proposal. None of the tolling arrangements were settled with public involvement or consultation.
The new toll will cover the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush, introducing a toll to a road that is currently free. One of the reasons the Government is pursuing this absurd proposal to reintroduce tolls is that it needs the cash to fund other sections of the project. The only way it can afford to build the tunnels and extensions elsewhere on the WestConnex project is if it levies a toll on the old M4 section. We know from recent road projects that traffic modelling and projections are often woefully inaccurate. What is well known is the reliance upon the M4 by residents of Western Sydney. It is a constant. Rather than producing a plan or building a project that is affordable, sensible and sustainable in its own right, the Government is going to shake down Western Sydney residents for another $2,000 each per annum. That is not on.