By Joe Bourke.
Protests against Westconnex have continued around the Inner West, with the Westconnex Action Group bringing traffic to a standstill last week.
The protest came to a head when Dr Peter Ross, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales, was arrested for trespassing after he chained himself to a drilling rig.
Dr Ross had placed his hands inside a metal tube, chained his wrists and padlocked the chain to the rig. Despite being arrested, Dr Ross said the protest was a success.
“I wouldn’t do anything differently, I think it went quite well. There was obviously no violence, it got press coverage, it brings the issue home, and I know the minister Duncan Gay said he was getting quite frustrated with us and so we’re having an effect there as well.” Dr Ross said.
Minister for roads Duncan Gay said last week Mr Ross shouldn’t be chaining himself to equipment, rather “cheering that we’re going to fix up a problem in Newtown that’s been there for decades.”
Dr Ross dismissed Mr Gay’s comments as ‘a load of rubbish’, and said that while Westconnex may have a positive short term impact, he believes it will just postpone the problem.
“The problem with Duncan Gay is that he says all sorts of things and many of them are simply not true. So to say that we should be cheering for Westconnex because it will fix a problem that we’ve had for years is absolutely ridiculous.” Dr Ross said.
The Westconnex Action Group has also criticised the Labor party for not announcing a formal position on Westconnex.
Labor Councillor Chris Wood said that Westconnex would not be good for Marrickville, but that there isn’t enough detail to simply oppose it.
“Labor’s position is that we oppose expressways if they destroy the local environment and dump traffic on our local streets. Westconnex does both of these to Marrickville.”
Clr Wood went on to say that the case is in local detail as it becomes available “rather than a cover all statement of No.”
Two members from the Action Group, Garth Montgomery and Pauline Lockie met with Anthony Albanese and Darcy Byrne last Friday to discuss Westconnex. Ms Lockie said the meeting was interesting, but that the Labor party needs to formulate a plan and stand with the community.
“The thing is, we’re only just under six weeks out from an election but they’ve had a good couple of years preparing for this,” Ms Lockie said.
“Politicians from all sides are on notice as far as we’re concerned. If they’re not prepared to stand up and do the right thing by the community then they can’t expect the community to forgive them for it.”
Dr Ross said the first step to appeasing the community would be to release the fine details of the development.
“All we want them to do in the first instance is to simply come clean. Release all the documents.”
Dr Ross also said the group is confident they will win the fight against Westconnex.
“We’re determined to win, and we wouldn’t fight if we thought it was a done deal. We don’t think it’s a done deal and we’ll win.”