Inner West Independent

Westconnex clearways could turn King Street into Parramatta road: Plibersek

A public meeting at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre held by the Westconnex Action Group on Monday night. Photo: Lorrie Graham

Federal deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has joined an accelerating campaign to put the brakes on WestConnex.

Ms Plibersek said the toll road should not proceed as it would kill retail in Newtown and surrounding areas.

“The extension of clearways would turn King Street into Parramatta Road,” she said in a statement sent to a public meeting held at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on Monday night.

“The NSW government’s proposal for Westconnex would change Newtown forever,” the statement read.

“One of Sydney’s premiere shopping, entertainment and eating precincts will be choked with traffic.”

WestConnex Action Group spokesperson Lorrie Graham said the statement was significant given it was the then Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese who originally committed federal funds to the project in 2013.

“It shows that our politicians can be made to listen to reason if we make it clear that we won’t vote for them if they support Westconnex,” Ms Graham said.

Greens Newtown MP Jenny Leong, who spoke at the meeting on Monday night, welcomed Ms Plibersek’s statement but said she hoped Labor would withdraw federal funding for the project if elected.

While NSW Labor is opposed to WestConnex in its present form, it supports extending the M4 to the city.

And the party has yet to state where the exits of its M4 would be located .

Ecotransit co-convenor Mathew Hounsell, who also spoke at the meeting, said while the NSW government had denied it would extend clearways on King Street, they were inevitable with thousands of extra cars and trucks expected to be deposited in Newtown.

“There will be induced traffic which will lead to more vehicles over more hours,” Mr Hounsell said.

“You can’t pump four lanes of traffic into one lane of traffic.”

Leichhardt woman Celia Morris, whose clothing stores Dragstar and Shorties have been located on King Street for nearly 30 years combined, said fringe retailers like hers relied on street parking to survive.

“[Clearways] could potentially kill the whole area,” Ms Morris said.

“I go down Parramatta Road every other day and I can see what’s happened to that road, and it’s a ghost town. That could be the future of south King Street if no one gets in and does anything.”

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