WestConnex rips a hole through beautiful, vibrant communities and neighbourhoods, including in my electorate of Summer Hill.
Of those suburbs most affected, Haberfield is of national heritage significance—it is the world's first. Ashfield is one of the oldest and most multicultural suburbs in our city. These are strong and tight-knit communities where neighbours look out for one another and care for one another.
And yet the Baird-Liberal Government is arrogantly pushing ahead with its destructive and polluting toll road without adequately consulting the community and without releasing a business case to justify spending $15.4 billion of taxpayers' money on this road. This petition acknowledges and community members keep telling me that the conduct of this Liberal Government has been nothing less than shameful. I have spoken with so many Haberfield and Ashfield residents who are simply fighting to get a fair deal for their compulsorily acquired home so that they can buy like for like in the inner west. I have listened to their tales of disappointment and frustration at their meetings with officials from Roads and Maritime Services who allegedly refuse to negotiate in good faith and simply wait for the Valuer-General to make a determination.
The Government appears to be systematically undervaluing properties, leaving home and business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket so that it can keep costs low, ignoring the fact that we are in the midst of a property boom, particularly in the inner west. Following the information contained in the M4 East environmental impact statement, residents are worried about a number of things. They are concerned about the impacts on their children's health from placing a polluting exhaust stack less than 500 metres away from primary schools like Haberfield Public School and childcare centres like the Infants Home Ashfield. They are worried about safety risks as thousands of extra cars will be using their local streets as rat runs once the City West Link and Parramatta Road are gridlocked.
Residents are furious at the arrogance that comes from destroying heritage items and by the Government's own admission in the environmental impact statement ripping the Haberfield Heritage Conservation Area in two. They are furious about the prospect of three years of construction, featuring round-the-clock truck movements, road closures, armies of construction workers and noise, pollution and more noise. Far from alleviating residents' concerns, the environmental impact statement only confirmed their worst nightmares. But still this Government refused to extend the consultation period. Only 55 days were allowed to deal with the environmental impact statement. I applaud the many activists and community groups that have taken a stand and continue to fight to save their suburbs and their neighbours. I stand with you and I call on the Government to cease acquisitions immediately, to abandon this misguided project, to put our taxpayer money to best use and to fund a world-class public transport system instead of this dirty, polluting toll road.