The Inner West conveyed their disappointment after State Treasurer Dominic Perrottet declared plans to transfer profits from WestConnex’s privatisation into the $15 billion NSW Generations Fund last week.
The announcement came after the Inner West was promised investments into their local infrastructure and facilities to mitigate the implications of 24-hour construction for the WestConnex motorway.
Community group Leichhardt Against WestConnex (LAW) expressed their disillusionment with the Berejiklian Government’s decision to move capital away from the Inner West.
“It is disappointing but not surprising that the funds from the sale of WestConnex are not to be spent on essential infrastructure as promised,” a LAW spokesperson told the Independent.
“The WestConnex project has been delivered at a tremendous cost to local communities and the taxpayer, it is regrettable that the Government is prepared to squander any return in this way.”
The verdict comes after residents across the Inner West are growing further frustrated with the construction taking place under their homes, with Rozelle resident Peter Hehir finding it “impossible to sleep at night” with the noise of construction below.
“I have to take medication to get to sleep because of the jackhammering happening directly beneath me, it’s been going on constantly since June of last year; it’s a nightmare,” Mr Hehir told the Independent in July.
Defending the Fund
Mr Perrottet has defended the pivoting of funds, claiming that the Generations Fund will ensure there is sustainable government capital for future generations.
“The [Fund] is about … getting away from hand-to-mouth, tax-and-spend government, and actually doing something concrete to benefit future generations,” Mr Perrottet wrote in the Australian Financial Review.
“[It] is emphatically not a vehicle for high-stakes punting on equity markets, roulette wheels or any other breathless casino clichés.”
Despite the Treasurer’s vision, community members remain disillusioned by the move.
“This is a Government of broken promises when it comes to infrastructure projects,” a LAW spokesperson said.
“We were promised nirvana on our streets when WestConnex was built, instead we have increased congestion on once quiet, local streets as road users try to dodge tolls.”
State Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey echoed the sentiments of the Inner West community.
“[State Government] told the public they’d use the money from privatising assets like WestConnex to build infrastructures like schools, hospitals, roads and trains,” Mr Mookhey said.
“Instead they’re gambling that money on the stock market, and in other risky financial markets.”
The NSW Generations Fund last year declared a $25 million loss in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half of the Fund’s $15 billion assets are tied up in international or domestic stock markets.