NSW Labor is urging drivers to speak out against the Government’s ‘tollmania’ agenda which has made Sydney’s road toll network one of the most extensive and expensive in the world.
As part of Labor’s fight against ‘tollmania’, a new website has been launched for drivers to share their toll horror stories.
It comes as new analysis by Labor shows commuters could be slugged almost $20 billion in tolls on Westconnex over the next decade. Almost half of this ($9.6 billion) will go into the pockets of private toll road owners instead of being returned to taxpayers or used to fund Government infrastructure because the Premier has broken her promise to not privatise the rest of WestConnex.
The NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay met Lorry Parissakis from South West Sydney, where residents are bearing the brunt of Sydney’s tolls.
For seven years Mr Parissakis travelled on the M5 to his job at Mascot. In July, it came as a huge financial shock when the Government slapped a hefty toll on the same road he previously used for free. The tolls, which were costing him almost $120 a week, eventually became too much for Mr Parissakis to afford and he felt he had no choice but to take a voluntary redundancy.
“This toll… it ruined me, leaving my job was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It was heartbreaking to let it go,” Mr Parissakis said.
“I crunched the numbers and I weighed it up. It was not feasible for me to continue working at Mascot. The cost of it didn’t leave me enough money to live on. I felt I had no choice but to leave because of the toll.”
Ms McKay said drivers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of this Government’s budget mismanagement: “This Government sold our electricity network to pay for roads. They sold half of WestConnex to pay for roads. And now they’re forcing drivers to pay a hefty new toll on a road which was already paid for. It makes no sense.
“I’m encouraging drivers to come forward and share their experience on Sydney’s toll roads like Lorry has. He is not alone. There are thousands of drivers across Sydney who have been slugged a huge transport bill by this Government in the middle of a recession. It’s not fair and it has to stop.”
The Shadow Minister for Roads John Graham added: “Sydney has become one of the most tolled cities on earth. The Government’s ‘tollmania’ agenda is hurting families that are doing it tough and making it harder for truckies and tradies to do business.”
Last month the Member for Macquarie Fields Anoulack Chanthivong presented a petition in NSW Parliament calling for the unfair new toll on the M5 East to be scrapped to provide much-needed relief to motorists during one of the worst economic downturns since World War II.
Close to 20 thousand commuters and truck drivers signed the petition in response to the Government’s decision to slap a toll on a road that’s been free since it opened in 2001 and has not been upgraded.
Mr Chanthivong slammed the Government for betraying motorists in South-West Sydney: “We are in the middle of a recession and the Liberal Party's heartless response is to collect more tolls. They know this new toll is unfair and that Liberal MPs in South West Sydney did nothing to stand up for them.”
The Member for Campbelltown and Shadow Minister for Western Sydney Greg Warren added: “This is a tax on the people of South West Sydney and a blatant cash grab from motorists who are struggling financially during the pandemic.”