Ms JODI McKAY ( Strathfield ) ( 19:01 ): I inform this House of the Government's continued mismanagement of WestConnex. I said recently—and I say it again—that this has to be the worst managed infrastructure project in the State's history. Members will be aware that this project travels through my electorate. While I would welcome a reduction in congestion on Parramatta Road there is no guarantee that this will happen, because motorists will do their best to avoid tolls. Let me be clear: Labor knows that tolls are part of the road funding mix, but how dare this Government impose a toll on the M4, which is not a new road.
As Labor members have said a number of times, we do not support this unfair tax on Western Sydney. Make no mistake, this is a tax. Someone travelling from Parramatta to Homebush each day will pay more than $2,000 a year. To add further insult to residents of Western Sydney, this toll will rise by a minimum of 4 per cent a year until 2060. There is much secrecy around this project, which is further evidenced by the fact the Government has recently announced that by the middle of next year it will be selling the Sydney Motorway Corporation. The tolling agreements will be sold along with it. How can the Premier just wake up one day and decide she is going to sell the Sydney Motorway Corporation when this goes against the advice in her own business case? The business case says:
...the approach of selling a controlling equity stake in Stage 2 prior to construction commencement was identified as potentially a sub-optimal strategy.
So according to its own business case, the decision the Government has made to sell the Sydney Motorway Corporation is, in fact, a sub-optimal strategy. Critical information in the business case is no longer correct. We only know what the Government has told us—that the Government has suddenly decided it is washing its hands of the entire project and will sell it to the private sector, which will be responsible for construction. At the very least, the Government must provide an updated business case because all financial assumptions have now changed.
Is it any wonder that this project has blown out by $7 billion? This is gross mismanagement of public money, but this Government thinks it can just get away with it all, including not delivering on what was the very reason and justification for WestConnex in the first place.
I remind the House that the Government justified WestConnex because it said it would deliver motorists directly to the port and to the airport. But guess what? The Government has no idea how they will get to the port or to the airport. This is just one of many unexplained changes we have seen with this project. There was the removal of the Camperdown exit, dumping now about 30,000 extra vehicles a day in St Peters. We have tried Government Information (Public Access) [GIPA] application after GIPA application to try to get the traffic modelling but, like every other freedom of information request on this project, it has been denied. And why? Because the Government has established the Sydney Motorway Corporation as an entity that is not subject to the usual accountability measures of government. How can a $17 billion project not be accountable to the Parliament and to the community?
I have already mentioned the out-of-date business case. The planning approval and the environmental impact statement on stage two also are no longer current because of all these changes. The Government treats these important approvals as a tick-the-box exercise: tick—it is approved and then the Government sets about making changes to the project, which then have a terrible impact on communities right across Sydney. There is the terrible decision to expand Euston Road to seven lanes and there are the sinister dealings with the Darley Road, Leichardt, site—Labor will continue to ask questions about that dodgy deal. There are the houses in Concord which have now been empty for more than two years. There are the residents of St Peters who have been subjected to the terrible smell of garbage wafting into their homes for the past few weeks.
There is a pattern here of the ill treatment of residents. It took Labor to expose the secret David Russell report into compulsory acquisitions and it was Labor who demanded a better deal for the residents whose homes have been acquired. Labor will continue to unearth the secrets that this Liberal Government is working so hard to hide. It took an inquiry into tolling—again instigated by Labor—to even find out the remuneration of the chief executive officer of the Sydney Motorway Corporation. Why is even that basic information not available? This is the largest infrastructure project in the State's history and it is also the worst managed. If modelling by the City of Sydney is correct, this project will eventually cost New South Wales more than $45 billion. This Government sees itself as an infrastructure government, but WestConnex shows that it is not; the Government does not know how to manage and deliver infrastructure projects.