Dressed in her Gough Whitlam ‘It’s Time’ t-shirt, Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle joined about 1000 other protestors at a rally to “Fix NSW Transport”.
About a dozen Blue Mountains union members and a contingent of ten anti-airport activists from the group RAWSA [Residents Against Western Sydney Airport] marched alongside the Labor MP on Saturday. They rallied together at Hyde Park, protesting about bus privatisation, public transport failures, WestConnex and toll road “scams” and “trains that don’t fit the tracks”.
Ms Doyle said she was heartened by the broad spectrum of rally participants.
“From unions and environmental groups based in Sydney through to Newcastle, Illawarra and Blue Mountains, residents [are] concerned about the growing laundry list of failed or failing projects across NSW … [and] people are beginning to realise that this government does not have the best interests of the community at heart.
“Premier Berejiklian and her Transport Minister Andrew Constance are both privatisation ideologues, so public transport and the health of our cities and towns falls a distant second to private profit in the minds of the Liberals.”
RAWSA spokesman Peter Dollin said the rally reflected the growing public discontent with the state government’s “lack of ability to plan for an integrated mass transit system for Sydney”.
“All they can deliver are toll roads, bottlenecks the impact of which will be massively exacerbated by their support for a second Sydney airport that has no rail link.”
Blaxland-based Mary Court, who is also the secretary of Penrith Valley Community Unions, told the ABC that private toll road building was “sucking billions out of public transport”. She called the new M4 road toll “highway robbery”.
"The M4 was already paid off in 2014," she said.
Secretary of the Rail Tram and Bus Union Alex Classens “a frustrated transport worker” told the rally “when [Transport Minister Andrew] Constance introduced an ill-conceived timetable on our train network – without consulting the workers that had to deliver it – we said it would fail. And fail it did”. The RTBU is still in dispute with the government over rail enterprise agreements.
Protesters put the blame on Premier Gladys Berejikilian who defended road expansion projects like WestConnex – the 33 kilometre mainly underground motorway currently under construction to connect Sydney’s west to the city.
“Why would you even think of putting off a project which reduces congestion? It just doesn’t make sense,” Ms Berejiklian told media.
Ms Doyle said the message from Saturday’s rally “was crystal clear for those politicians who showed up and participated”.
“The community wants a renewed investment in public transport instead of more toll roads and they want public services and public assets to remain in public hands.”