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WestConnex debate goes Sydney wide

WestConnex protesters on Monday evening. Source: Twitter

By Joe Bourke and Emily Contador-Kelsall

 

A packed Enmore theatre took on the WestConnex Delivery Authority while Sydney City Council had their first viewing of a damning report of the controversial plan.

The SGS report, commissioned by council, is the first independent report on WestConnex, and found it will not achieve its intended goals of serving population and employment growth.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the report is the first of its kind.

“This is the first solid piece of information that the community is going to get access to,” she said.

The report found there is a lack of information available about WestConnex so an assessment of particular components could not be done, but emphasised the need for public transport in dealing with Sydney’s growth.

“… WestConnex is not a holistic solution to Sydney’s growth challenges, and it fails to respond to key employment and transport trends,” the assessment said.

According to the report, Sydney’s current population of five million is expected to grow to approximately 6.2 million by 2031, presenting significant planning challenges.

The independent analysis cost council $39,000.

Liberal councillor Edward Mandla said the report’s cost warrented more time than council was given to study it. They received the report just over an hour before Monday’s council meeting.

“We spent $39,000 of council funds to not read a report.”

Across the city, residents and local politicians filled Enmore theatre to demand anwsers from chief executive of the WestConnex Delivery Authority, Denis Cliche.

Marrickville mayor Mark Gardiner was at the meeting and called the plan “out-dated” and “old-fasioned”.

“At a time when the world-wide consensus is that urban motorways like WestConnex are obsolete white elephants that should be abandoned or demolished, NSW is pushing ahead with what I call a disaster waiting to happen,” Mayor Gardiner said.

The raucous crowd booed the WestConnex Delivery Authority and held up signs reading “LIES” and “ANSWER THE QUESTION”.

Marrickville Greens councillor Max Phillips also attended the meeting. He said in a statement that Labor were “using spin to cover up their policy failure on the issue”.

“Labor support a version of a WestConnex motorway that dumps traffic directly into the CBD, rather than into a tunnel under Marrickville,” Clr Phillips said.

“To have a policy that supports a motorway through the inner west but tell voters you will save them from this same motorway is fundamentally dishonest.”

Despite the opposition, Mr Cliche insisted the full motorway must be completed.

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