The NSW Opposition has slammed the Berejiklian Government for mounting a taxpayer-funded public relations campaign to bolster the image of its leviathan WestConnex toll roads project.
WestConnex has signed up as sponsor of two sporting clubs – the GWS Giants and Wests Tigers, in a move that has angered Giants’ fans and members, most of whom live in Western Sydney where its unaffordable tolls will bite.
WestConnex is managed by the Sydney Motorway Corporation – a secretive private company that is wholly-owned by the NSW Government with two ministers as its sole shareholders.
Up until the end of 2015 the GWS Giants’ chairman Tony Shepherd was also WestConnex’s chairman.
The toll road has been plagued with problems since inception, including a $6.8 billion blowout in its budget, multiple changes to its scope, and a controversial compulsory acquisition policy that has seen more than 400 homeowners short-changed by the Government.
The public relations push comes as the Government prepares to slug Western Sydney commuters a maximum of $4.21 each way to travel on the M4 motorway – part of WestConnex - which has been free since Labor removed tolls back in 2010.
The GWS Giants home ground is located at Sydney Olympic Park, which is along the route of the M4.
Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley
"I am a Foundation Member of the GWS Giants but I am shaking my head at this. The club's own fans will be slugged unaffordable tolls for the next 40 seasons to get to and from GWS home games at Sydney Olympic Park.
"Next Tony Shepherd will be announcing the Liberal Party as a GWS sponsor."
“By all means the Government should support the work sporting clubs do in the community but be upfront about it. This is nothing more than a sneaky attempt by the Minister Stuart Ayres to buy some brownie points for WestConnex.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Roads Minister Jodi McKay
“I think the people of Western Sydney will see this for what it is – a cynical marketing ploy to get them to change their mind about WestConnex.
"This is yet another example of the secrecy that shrouds this project."