The NSW Labor Opposition has opposed a Berejiklian Government attempt to use the multi-billion dollar Sydney Metro project as a Trojan Horse for yet more privatisation of public transport and massive development across the city.
The Government has proposed converting the existing T3 Bankstown Line to the driverless Metro system and have mooted extensive development in suburbs along the line.
Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay said the Transport Administration Amendment (Sydney Metro) Bill is a vehicle to allow the Government to hand over large tracts of land along the Metro corridor to developers.
The legislation, which passed today in the Legislative Assembly, will make the Sydney Metro a statutory authority and take responsibility for the delivery of the project away from Transport for NSW.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance has failed to give a good reason as to why he has moving responsibility from government to the new authority.
Ms McKay said the Metro move bore striking similarities to WestConnex, which started out life under the WestConnex Delivery Authority but which a year later mutated into the Sydney Motorway Corporation, a shadowy private entity wholly controlled by the State Government. A 51 per cent stake in WestConnex is now up for sale.
The legislation also allows the new body to “carry out, finance, manage and otherwise participate in residential, retail, commercial, industrial, mixed-use development, community, open space and recreational facilities on land in the locality of metro stations, depots and stabling yards.”
The legislation also enables the new authority to operate buses, even if there is no logical connection with the Metro services, thereby raising the spectre of yet more privatisation of services.
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen MP, Member for Summer Hill
“Just like with WestConnex, the Transport Minister is doing everything he can to stop inner west residents finding out the truth about this project.
"It is just another example of the contempt he has for the people of the Inner West.
“It beggars belief that the Minister would make this grab given their spectacular loss in the Supreme Court this week, which showed just how little they can be trusted.
“The fact is this is yet another raid on our public services by a Minister who wants to see all public transport run by the private sector.
“This is a Government that will always put the interests of the public second to the big end of town. They can’t be trusted.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay
“Labor and the community has every right to be suspicious of the privatisation-mad Berejiklian Government’s motives when it comes to public assets. We have seen it with WestConnex and we are about to see it with the Sydney Metro.
“The Liberal Government has failed to explain why it needs to create this new authority, which we suspect will be nothing more than a Trojan Horse for privatisation. This is fattening the pig for market.
“The new authority will also have the power to become a developer – to develop high-rise units and retail centres. It’s always about property with this Government.
“Minister Constance needs to be open with the community about his motives.”