I’d like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.
Thank you all for coming out today – thank you to the inspiring people who make up the WestConnex Action Group. And thank you to the committed activists, artists and locals from Reclaim the Streets. What a turn out.
As Elvis said, my name is Jenny Leong and I am the Greens candidate for the newly created state seat of Newtown.
I am speaking to you today on behalf of The Greens - and in the interests of transparency (something that has been clearly lacking in successive NSW governments) - I would like to state upfront the Greens position on WestConnex.
Let me make it clear The Greens oppose WestConnex. We oppose it in any form.
We oppose the compulsory acquisition of people’s homes for this dirty tollway.
We oppose the destruction of any of our precious parklands and green spaces for this dirty tollway.
And we support the redirection of public funds into world-class sustainable public transport.
As locals you have the right to know where your local representatives stand.
And I can say that when it comes opposing this dirty tollway - The Greens stand with you.
The Greens are the only party in parliament that has consistently spoken out in opposition to this project - and I’m pleased to be joined here todayby our Transport Spokesperson and Upper House MP Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Member for Balmain Jamie Parker, our Green candidates for Heffron or Summer Hill, and our Greens councillors on Marrickville, City of Sydney Council and Leichhardt Council.
But I’m also speaking to you here today as a local - South King St is my neighbourhood, it’s the area where I live, it’s where our campaign office is and it’s where I socialise, shop and stroll. In this park, Sydney Park is also where I made a life-long commitment to my partner Kristian in front of our family and friends, just over there.
The WestConnex project is a 33 km dirty tollway disaster that encapsulates the short-sighted, vested-interest, anti-community, unsustainable culture that has infected politics in NSW for too long.
It’s a project surrounded by secrecy.
There is no publicly available business case.
No environmental impact statement.
No transparency around planning decisions.
No financial feasibility.
And growing community opposition - along the whole 33 kilometres of this proposed motorway madness.
We must ask: ‘why’? And ‘who benefits?’
Why is the NSW Government planning to build WestConnex when it will lead to more traffic congestion rather than less?
Why did the last Federal Labor Government commit $1.5 billion to the project without a proper business case or environmental impact study?
Why are both the Government and Opposition in NSW supporting the building of the most expensive road project in the history of Australia when the rest of the world - and our community - knows that public transport NOT dirty tollways are the answer to our transport needs?
And who benefits?
Not Pauline and her family, not Evie, not any of their neighbours who are set to lose their homes.
Not the people in Western Sydney who - based on financial projections - would have to pay a $26 toll for it to break even.
Not local businesses that are facing the prospect of 24 hour clearways which would see south King St turn into Parramatta Rd overnight.
Not those who use our beautiful parks across the electorate of Newtown and inner west - who may find a polluting exhaust stack popping up in their playground.
WestConnex is an example of the way the old parties do ‘politics’ or perhaps more accurately do ‘business’ has to stop.
There is another way.
The Greens vision for Sydney is world class public transport – we must prioritise investment in light rail as well as increase and integrate cycleways - I’d like to commend Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s efforts advancing sustainable transport options in our city. What a contrast to the state government’s plans to privatise and shut down the Newcastle rail line.
The NSW Government - and their big business influencers are a powerful force - but we know that when the community comes together - we can win.
We can win like the community that protected The Rocks from developers bulldozers.
We can win like the community that stopped LA-style freeways being built through Sydney and Glebe.
We can win like the community that kept Erskineville Public School open and saved our local public housing.
And we can win like the people of Melbourne – who stopped the East West Toll Link and exposed the failures their multi-billion dollar tollway plan.
Look around you.
This is community power.
Together, we can win.
Some photos from the rally – you can find more on our Facebook page