Road Tolls

Published on: March 2024

Record: HANSARD-1323879322-139006

Road Tolls

Mr WARREN KIRBY (Riverstone) (17:01:23):

I move:

That this House:

(1)Notes that the interim report of the Independent Toll Review found that toll road users will pay $195 billion in toll costs over 37 years until 2060.

(2)Notes that the privatisation agenda of the former Liberal-Nationals Government means, of the $195 billion, WestConnex alone accounts for around 52 per cent of the estimated toll figure in today's dollars. Based on these figures, users will be paying for the cost of this scheme three times over in tolls.

(3)Notes that the interim report of the Independent Toll Review stated that, "The current structure of tolls is producing inequitable results, with motorists from Western Sydney spending the most and having fewer alternative options."

(4)Notes that, due to the former Liberal-Nationals Government's privatisation agenda, Sydney is now one of the most tolled cities in the world.

It is a fact that under the Liberal-Nationals Government Sydney became the most tolled city in the world. The recently released interim report of the Independent Toll Review conducted by Allan Fels and David Cousins found that toll road users will pay a whopping $195 billion in toll costs over the next three to four decades. I repeat that figure: $195 billion—which is slightly more than the debt we inherited when we came to government. The contracts created by the former Liberal-Nationals Government, based on its delusional privatisation agenda and economic mismanagement, were the cause of this State's cost-of-living crisis, and will continue to be a significant contributor to it for decades to come.

WestConnex alone accounts for more than half of the projected toll figure relative to today's prices. I remind the House that the former Government lauded WestConnex as a very strong result, and indeed recently declared that, given time, it would do it all again. The real question is: Who was it a strong result for, and who does it continue to be a strong result for? It is certainly not the people of New South Wales, and certainly not the people of Western Sydney. The people of Western Sydney, under the former Government, were treated with the utmost disregard. It was easy for those opposite to throw all the new housing developments into the north- and south-west, without transport, without schools, without roads and, of course, without hospitals.

Does it come as any surprise that the people of Western Sydney have to pay the price of the former Government's love affair with privatisation? And what is that price? It is three times the cost. The thing is that the people of Western Sydney are being dealt a double blow. Our non-toll roads were not upgraded to cope with the additional population that we were forced to absorb, and the exorbitant toll pricing is forcing many motorists back onto the regular roads, congesting them even more than they were before. Let's see the exploitation of people in Western Sydney in action. As the Premier mentioned today during question time, the toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge remained at $4 between 2009 and 2023. In that same period, a $12.60 toll for the M5 increased to a whopping $35—

Mr Matt Cross:

We own the Harbour Bridge.


I acknowledge the intervention because we also own the M4 and the M5, and, to be clear, we are not proposing to take back the cashback on the M5. For me to travel into the city via the M7, the M2, the Lane Cove Tunnel and the Harbour Bridge and to return home again costs $44.47 a day—almost $50 a day. For the average worker, that represents almost a day's pay per week being handed to a private company with a monopoly. It is unequivocally a tax on Western Sydney. It simply is not fair on young families, who are already struggling. Amidst the backdrop of this inequality and financial strain, the interim report of the Independent Toll Review comes to us as a much-needed beacon of transparency. It sheds light on the complexities of toll pricing and unveils a path forward for reforming Sydney's tolling system to make it fairer. As we delve into the details of the report, it becomes evident that addressing the tolling crisis is not merely a matter of convenience but a fundamental issue of fairness and economic sustainability, particularly for the people of Western Sydney.

The tolling landscape in Sydney is a product of decades of policy decisions and infrastructure investments, and the influence of private interests. Toll roads, once touted as a solution to congestion and urban sprawl, have evolved into a burden on the everyday life of Sydneysiders, especially those in Western Sydney. The toll review paints a stark picture of the toll road network riddled with inconsistencies, complexities and exorbitant costs. It reveals the tolling system as a patchwork of concessions and pricing structures driven by profit motives rather than public interest. As I mentioned earlier, at the heart of the toll mania lies the issue of fairness. The toll burden falls disproportionately on the residents of Western Sydney, exacerbating the already high cost of living in the region. While toll prices soar, public infrastructure lags—especially when it comes to public transport—leaving commuters with few alternatives and little recourse.

The toll review recommendations offer a glimmer of hope for a fairer and more equitable tolling system—proposals such as a declining distance charge and an infrastructure levy aimed to tighten toll prices with usage and ensure that motorists pay their fair share. Moreover, the call for the establishment of an independent body to oversee toll pricing reflects the recognition of a need for greater transparency and accountability in toll road management. By involving stakeholders in the decision-making process, the toll review seeks to restore public trust in the tolling system and ensure that toll prices reflect the true cost of the infrastructure provided. While the road reform may be long and arduous, the interim report of the Independent Toll Review represents a significant step forward in addressing Sydney's tolling crisis. It provides a road map for reform and offers concrete solutions to the pressures facing motorists in the region.

As we consider the toll review's recommendations, we must remain mindful of the broader implications of toll reform. A fairer tolling system will not only ease the financial burden on residents, but also promote economic growth, reduce congestion and improve quality of life right across Greater Sydney. The people of Sydney deserve a tolling system that is fair, transparent and accountable, and that puts the needs of motorists ahead of profit margins.

Mr MATT CROSS (Davidson) (17:08:28):

I will, in a moment, seek to amend the motion, but this is extremely partisan, shamefully political and lacks perspective. Reading the motion, you would think the world began in 2011. In reading the motion of the member for Riverstone, I see that it mentions privatisation several times. I do not know whether the member has read the toll review, but how many times does it mention privatisation? How many times do you think? The answer is zero. It does not mention privatisation once, and yet the motion would have members believe that the report talks about that.

If members opposite want to talk about toll roads, let us go through all the toll roads that were approved under Labor. The first one is the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, commissioned under the Unsworth Labor Government. The M2 was opened under the Carr Government in 1997. The Eastern Distributor was commissioned by the Labor Government in 1997 and opened by the Carr Government in 1999. The Cross City Tunnel was commissioned by the Carr Government in 2002 and opened by the Iemma Labor Government in 2005—with a toll. Westlink M7 was commissioned by the Carr Government in 2003 and opened under the Iemma Government in 2005. The roads Minister in 2005 was none other than Joseph Tripodi—a Labor luminary. Finally, the Lane Cove Tunnel was commissioned by the Carr Government in 2003 and opened under the Iemma Government in 2007. Every one of those roads is a toll road.

The motion would have members believe that tolls only happen under one party, but they happened under the Labor Government. Unlike the member who moved the motion, who clearly has not read the report, I found some very interesting reading in it. One of the roads that I mentioned, the Cross City Tunnel, was commissioned and opened under Labor. What does the report say about the Cross City Tunnel, a Labor road? It states:

The Cross City Tunnel has had relatively high tolls ever since it commenced operating, and this has no doubt contributed to its long‑term under-use.

There we go—the Labor Government's own report is criticising toll roads that were commissioned and opened under a Labor government. It also has two recommendations. The first is the discontinuation of the M5 South West cashback. I am an honest broker in this House. The Premier has said that he has ruled that out, and I am being honest about that. However, another recommendation is for "two-way tolling on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Distributor," and the Premier has not ruled that out. That should be up for debate today.

Professor Fels' report creates two scenarios: Network Tolling A, which is no subsidy; and Network Tolling B, with a subsidy. Let us go through all the roads that have no subsidy but will be increasing in price. The first one is Rouse Hill to domestic terminal, with an increase in toll of $5.83. Parramatta to Maroubra—where are the member for Parramatta and the member for Maroubra? They are not here. The toll increase is $2.70. Where is the member for Heffron? Rosebery to Mount Druitt will increase by $2.70. The toll for Rosebery to Blacktown—the member for Blacktown is in the Chamber—will increase by $2.70. The Premier said two interesting things when he became leader. The first was that he was opposed to "slapping new tolls on roads that have already been paid off". That is interesting with respect to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The second thing he said was:

Going forward there should be no more new tolls on existing roads and no more signing contracts that increase tolls faster than inflation.

But here we have the independent toll review. I move:

That the motion be amended by omitting all words after "That this House" and inserting instead:

(1)Notes the former NSW Labor Government placed tolls on the Easter Distributor, Cross City Tunnel, Westlink M7 and Lane Cove Tunnel.

(2)Notes that the former Liberal‑Nationals Government successfully delivered city-shaping transport infrastructure including NorthConnex, WestConnex, the light rail expansion and the Sydney Metro after 16 years of infrastructure failure by Labor.

(3)Notes that Labor wants new tolls, higher tolls and more bureaucrats.

(4)Calls on the Premier to honour his words before the election that "going forward there should be no more new tolls on existing roads and no more signing contracts that increase tolls faster than inflation".

Ms LIESL TESCH (Gosford) (17:13:38):

We live in the most tolled city on earth. People from the Central Coast coming to work for the day pay over $50 return if they come in peak hour—250 bucks a week. The cost‑of‑living crisis is out of this world; it is sky-high. Labor has committed to try to decrease the toll mania that was delivered to us by the previous Liberal Government. The privatisation of roads that belong to the people, which will cost the people of New South Wales $195 billion over the term of their contracts, is absolutely ridiculous, and trying to undo it is a hugely complex process.

I thank Professor Allan Fels for his independent toll review. The toll roads as they are at the moment are not working. People cannot afford to get to work and are taking the backstreets to try to undo some of the grief that the toll mania addicts on the other side of the Chamber delivered to the people of Sydney. Going into the election, we promised that we would reform the world's most tolled city with a new approach to toll mania in Sydney. The toll review confirms that will be a complex task but one that the State must embark on as the Labor Government provides essential cost-of-living relief through our toll cap, which will begin providing quarterly cash rebates in April this year. The report proposes a staged process to reform the toll network, which includes legislation, toll price restructure and the setting up of a State-owned tolling entity, as well as an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal [IPART] review of toll prices.

The Liberals' toll mania in Sydney hurts those who can least afford it. I note that the Sydney Harbour Bridge toll has sat at a steady price, whereas the cost of the tolls in Western Sydney has skyrocketed—gone through the roof. The real cost benefit for those roads means that in some places they will pay for themselves three times over. In one case—I think it is the M2 east—it will pay for itself nine times over the contract. People cannot set up a mobile phone contract without being told the minimum payment, and yet New South Wales motorists signed up to almost $200 billion in future toll costs without any disclosure under the former Government. The contracts were signed with no reference to future motorists' ability to pay. The contracts meant that tolls go up 4 per cent every year. When inflation went up to 6.8 per cent, Transurban automatically got an additional $1 billion from the taxpayers of New South Wales because of its contract.

A 30-year-old driver today will reach retirement age at 67 before some of the existing toll contracts expire, which is why it is critical that we let the light shine in here and debate the merits and the long-term costs of how our tolling system is structured. Our Government is coming clean with the people of New South Wales on what the total toll burden will be over the coming four decades before the existing contracts expire. We need to have an honest discussion with the public about the benefits and costs of those toll roads. Long-term relief of that cost‑of-living burden must be the focus of the Government now because it goes to a crucial point: Living in this city must not be a financial choice between someone staying in their community and staying in their job. Nurses, teachers and essential workers simply cannot afford to get to their places of work.

Housing reform and certainty around transport infrastructure will alleviate that pressure, but it will take time, and the pain is being felt now. It is incumbent on our Government and members in this place to work together to deliver a fairer deal for commuters. This is the cost of the incessant privatisation commitment by members opposite. There is a concept of a toll on a road that belongs to the people and has paid for itself. I used to drive on the M4, and I was quite excited when it was paid off and we no longer had to pay the toll, and yet what did members opposite do? They reintroduced a toll on a road that had already paid for itself. Other privatisations that have occurred in New South Wales have also had the oversight of IPART to consider prevailing economic circumstances—to look at interest rates and inflation rates—and yet those opposite are happy with privatisation at the absolute expense of the taxpayers in this State. It needs to be reviewed and the Labor Government will review it.

Mr RAY WILLIAMS (Kellyville) (17:18:53):

Lies, deceit and hypocrisy are just three qualities in a parliamentarian that are frowned upon by the public, especially in relation to promises that were made prior to an election that are not delivered—but those three qualities have become stock in trade for Premier Chris Minns and the Labor Government. We only need to look at some of the promises that were made. First and foremost, Chris Minns said that Labor would lower tolls following the election. He has done quite the opposite, and straightaway increased the tolls on both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. He is now proposing to reverse the toll and put a toll on northbound traffic.

We can look at other promises that were made. The mover of the motion spruiked around his electorate about promises for a Rouse Hill hospital. Last night I had the privilege of visiting his electorate. I could not believe how many of his constituents came up to me in the first half hour and said, "Ray, when are we going to see that Rouse Hill hospital?" I had to advise them that, sadly, this Government had cancelled it and that the completion date is now 2029. That is just stock in trade for Labor members: they promise to build infrastructure and they never do it.

The member for Gosford raised an important point about people travelling from the Central Coast to the city having to pay $50 if they were to come to the city each day. I do not know whether she meant both ways, or whether that is just one way. Let us presume it is one way. After coming off the F3 or the M1—whichever one prefers to call it—those people would travel into NorthConnex, which is a wonderful piece of infrastructure. I am yet to hear concerns expressed by a motorist about it. They would then travel onto the M2 and would probably then travel through the Lane Cove Tunnel. They would then, more than likely, travel through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. All three of those latter pieces of infrastructure were tolled by the Carr Labor Government. On top of that, there is the M2, the Cross City Tunnel, the Eastern Distributor and WestConnex.

The hypocrisy of those opposite knows no bounds if we look at the number of tollways and tolls that were introduced by previous Labor governments. They embraced the private sector to build those pieces of infrastructure and toll those roads, but when those contracts repeatedly came up they never tried to reduce the tolls on behalf of the people of this State. The only toll that they removed was the toll on the M4. Because of the efforts of the former Coalition Government in building WestConnex, which is one of the greatest pieces of road infrastructure in this country, it costs a total of $8 to travel from Penrith all the way to Sydney Airport. That marvellous piece of infrastructure for the people of Western Sydney is a piece of infrastructure that I gladly use each and every day. Once again, it is a piece of infrastructure that I never hear concerns raised about by the constituents who use it. It is a great addition to the way people commute around this city.

We should provide alternatives to toll roads so that people do not have to use them, but rather jump on public transport. When the former Coalition Government was elected in 2011, it inherited a $60 billion backlog in important infrastructure. One of the greatest pieces of infrastructure ever introduced that affects my community is the Sydney Metro. I use it every day on my way to Parliament. It is a marvellous alternative. I do not pay any tolls whatsoever. I do not pay for parking. I sit back on a wonderful piece of infrastructure that the Coalition built and funded and opened in 2019. We upgraded the inner city, the west and all the other different pieces of rail infrastructure and we widened the M5. Yes, it has a toll on it, but it was widened by us. The upgrade was promised by the previous Labor Government, but it was never done. It was part of the $60 billion backlog in infrastructure—but it was built by us. Under Labor, one does not have to worry about paying more tolls, because it does not build any infrastructure when it is in power.

Mrs SALLY QUINNELL (Camden) (17:23:55):

I note that the member for Kellyville started with three words: lies, deceit and hypocrisy. I would like to turn to the words from the Independent Toll Review. Aside from laying bare the patchwork of poorly functioning toll roads and numerous different price structures, the report reveals information that has not previously been made public. I think it is important to get to the truth. The report reveals details of the rates of return in contracts and the toll burden of each of the roads. The privatisation agenda of the former Liberal-Nationals Government means that of the $195 billion, WestConnex alone accounts for around 52 per cent of the estimated toll figure in today's dollars. Based on these figures, users will be paying for the cost of that scheme three times over. I do believe that tolls were first brought in to pay for the road. One of the most disappointing things about living in south-west Sydney was the discovery that the M5 motorway had been paid for, but the toll was not being lifted. We finished our bit, but there were other parts—

Mr Matt Cross:

Bob Carr didn't lift it.


This was under your Government.

Mr Matt Cross:

Give the cash back.


No, do your homework. This was under your Government. We had paid for it, and it was done, and then a new road opened. The former Coalition Government was not comfortable tolling people in that community for the road, so it thought, "South-west Sydney doesn't seem to mind. Go ahead."

A survey conducted by the review found that residents in Blacktown, the south-west and Parramatta who used toll roads more than once a month spent, respectively, $95.90, $87.63 and $84.35 a month on average. That would generally be poor form, but we are currently also in a cost-of-living crisis. If someone has to leave their property for which they have saved and scrimped and move all the way to south-west Sydney, Blacktown, or Parramatta and drive to work, leaving the electorate—because one of the things that did not come with all of the development in those areas were job opportunities, particularly in Camden—they will pay for the privilege to do so, and at an exorbitant amount per month.

That is higher than the Greater Sydney average of $60.70 spent by motorists who use toll roads at least once a month. The survey highlights that Western Sydney residents pay the highest amount and have the fewest public transport options available. It is to that that I pivot now. The member for Davidson gave an extensive list of things that we had built, which is ironic because the member for Kellyville said that Labor did not build anything. What they had not built was any public transport infrastructure. Leppington train station, which was the last piece of public transport in the south-west, was designed and implemented by the Carr Labor Government.

Mr Matt Cross:

Delivered by the Liberal Government—opened and delivered by the Liberal Government.


The member for Davidson will come to order.


The member for Davidson is wrong. From Leppington all the way around to Campbelltown, they did. There were greenfields with the opportunity to create public transport infrastructure right through the Camden electorate, but that did not happen. We know that 70 per cent of people in Camden are in the workforce, 56 per cent of people in Camden work full time and 48 per cent of those travel to work by car as lone drivers. They go in the car, by themselves, because they have no other choice. Fewer than 1 per cent of Camden commuters go to work anywhere on public transport. We have been given no choice but to go on those roads. We have been given no opportunity, no alternative, no plan B but to go on toll roads again and again. I think it is chronically unfair—

Ms Felicity Wilson:

Camden Valley Way has had a great upgrade under us.

Mr Matt Cross:

Camden Valley Way is not tolled.


Opposition members will come to order.

Mrs SALLY QUINNELL:Time expired.

But we are forced to used it, all the way to the M5, the M7, the M4. In fact— []

Ms Felicity Wilson:

It's not tolled. Camden Valley Way is a free road.


The member for North Shore will come to order.

Ms KOBI SHETTY (Balmain) (17:29:09):

I thank the member for Riverstone for introducing this important public interest debate. The thought that road users will be paying three times over for the cost of toll roads, including WestConnex, is astonishing. But nobody should be surprised. It is a privatised toll road doing exactly what its private operator says it will do and, for that matter, what it wants it to do: create a revenue stream for investors by taking money out of the pockets of working people, who have little choice but to hop in their cars and drive on private roads because the alternatives of reliable public transport and safe ways to walk and cycle have been left to wither on the vine.

The issue has been put in terms of a "privatisation agenda" this afternoon, but at the heart of this topic is the question of what we want our cities of the future to look like. The previous Coalition Government asked itself that question, and the answer it came up with was "more roads". It was not more public transport or more compact neighbourhoods with great pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, linking small village centres with great local facilities and great local jobs, but more roads—and more privatised roads at that—so that we can continue to rely on urban sprawl, with working people travelling hundreds of kilometres each week to get to and from the places they need to be.

The current Government has inherited the mess the former Government made, but the current Government supported the idea when in opposition. In my electorate of Balmain, we are all dealing with the daily stress of the Rozelle interchange, but the Labor Government has said that the problems can only be solved by building another major motorway—the Western Harbour Tunnel. The Government says it will fix everything in another three, four or five years time. That is unless, of course, it does not. In which case, what will the solution be from there? That is not to mention what we are all supposed to be doing in the meantime.

Imagine life in a city where going to work each day did not mean getting into a car, paying a toll, getting stuck in traffic and the stress of finding somewhere to park or, for that matter, cramming into an overcrowded bus or train carriage as service after service is cancelled or running late, just like the one I caught into Parliament this morning. It is a frequent occurrence on my six-kilometre commute. What should have been a short, pleasant journey turned into an hour-long ordeal. Almost every time I come to this place on the bus, as I am wedded to doing, I end up with an hour-long ordeal and with cancelled services. It is absolutely maddening. This issue can be talked about within the context of privatisation as well, because we know that the privatisation of Sydney's buses has been a disaster.

If we want our cities of the future to be served by well-functioning public transport, we need to stop outsourcing those services to those who think they can turn them into the most efficient money-spinners. We need those services to be operated in the public interest, with operators who will put our communities ahead of their bottom line—but I digress. Imagine if those billions of dollars had been spent on something instead of roads. Imagine being able to walk or cycle to a nearby transport hub where fast, reliable and affordable public transport is available to take you where you need to go. That is the kind of visionary approach that is needed for building new transport infrastructure in Sydney and across New South Wales, because fast, connected and safe public transport is at the heart of an efficient and socially just city. Privatised toll roads, on the other hand, have embedded inequity into the transport system for generations to come. That is the real story behind the interim report of the Independent Toll Review.

Our ailing public transport and traffic congestion brings stress and frustration to people across the State, which costs families precious time and has a negative impact on economic activity. Trying to fix it with more traffic‑inducing tollways serves only the private companies that build and operate them. I say again that is the real story behind the interim report of the Independent Toll Review. Road users will be paying three times over for the cost of those privatised toll roads for generations to come. On the other hand, building better public transport and making it safe and easy to walk and cycle can address those issues and have a positive effect on pollution, reducing greenhouse emissions and promoting a healthy lifestyle. That is what is needed in our cities now and for the future.

Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (17:33:20):

It is exciting that today, after one year and $1 million of taxpayers' money spent, the Minns Labor Government has discovered that there is a cost-of-living crisis and that people are struggling under the weight of tolls. I welcome the Government coming to the party on that revelation, because it is something that members on this side of the Chamber have been working to address when in government and now in opposition. We have been pushing the Minns Labor Government to take this issue seriously. Even though those opposite seem to have finally realised that this is a challenge, we still do not know what the Labor Government's position is on tolling reforms. Is it going to undertake any reform on tolling concessions? Is it going to do anything to ease the cost-of-living pressures on commuters and drivers across Sydney and New South Wales?

The member for Riverstone seems like a decent guy. I give him credit for that. He seems well meaning. But being well meaning and decent does not mean that he is accurate in his history and his understanding of where we have come from, where Labor has taken the State in the past and where it is likely to lead it in the future. I put some facts on the table that my learned colleagues on this side of the Chamber have spoken to this evening. We know that Labor is the architect of tolling and the cost-of-living crisis in New South Wales. I look at the longest tolling concession in the history of this country—the 49-year toll that was whacked on the Cross City Tunnel. That is a longer concession than WestConnex stage 1. When that toll was first applied, there was an escalation of a minimum of 4 per cent every single year for that 49-year period.

When Labor introduced the Cross City Tunnel, it stipulated an escalation rate of a minimum of 4 per cent per annum for the first 13 years of that contract. I look at the requirement to enter the Cross City Tunnel—or the tunnel funnel, as some members may recall—to even access parts of the city. Labor's record is to toll hard and toll wide, to have high escalations and to force people to pay those tolls. It is rank hypocrisy that we are hearing from members opposite, who are criticising and attacking tolling, and complaining about the cost-of-living crisis and the impacts of tolling. Labor is the architect of the tolling regime in New South Wales that is causing this crisis for the people of our city and our State.

We cannot believe a word that members opposite say about what they will do to resolve cost-of-living and tolling challenges. What do they say when they talk about cost-of-living challenges? They say that tolls are incredibly high. They say that there is a cost-of-living challenge for each of us. The only consideration that has so far been put on the table by the Minns Labor Government is to double the toll on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. In a cost-of-living crisis, where the cost imposts on families, households and commuters has been acknowledged, the only policy proposition is to double tolls. There is nothing in that to reduce the cost-of-living impacts on families, to introduce relief for households or to reduce tolling. In fact, those opposite are looking to double tolls.

My community is at the heart of one of the most egregious Labor tolling decisions—and the member for Strathfield will know this from his time living in my local community—when a former Labor government signed the deal for one of the world's most expensive toll roads in the entire world. The most expensive toll road per kilometre is the off-ramp from Military Road at Neutral Bay and North Sydney. It is a right‑hand turn between Falcon Street/Military Road and the Warringah Freeway. It is a right‑hand turn between two free roads that was tolled at the highest rate per kilometre in the world at that time. That is Labor's record. That is a record that we cannot trust. Those opposite are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

I look at the 16 long years that Labor was in government last time around. We all thank God that it is only going to be four years this time. When Labor built the M5 East, it put a toll on it. When Labor built the M5, it put a toll on it. When Labor built the M2, it put a toll on it. When Labor built the Lane Cove Tunnel, it put a toll on it. As I have said, when Labor built the Cross City Tunnel, it put a toll on it. We saw the impacts it had on Cross City Tunnel patronage when Labor tried to funnel people into it. When Labor built the right‑hand turn from Military Road in my electorate, it slapped a toll on it. I am not sure what this Labor Government means. Labor has a record of having the longest and largest tolling concessions in the history of Australia and the world. One cannot trust Labor when it comes to tolling and, disappointingly, cannot trust the motion moved by member for Riverstone.

Mr WARREN KIRBY (Riverstone) (17:38:33):

In reply: I thank the member for Davidson for his contribution to the debate, noting that privatisation was not mentioned in a report that was about private roads that are all toll roads. I also thank him for noting the number of roads that were built under the previous Labor Government. I thank the member for Gosford, who noted that the residents in her electorate are regularly paying $50 a day to get into the city. She noted the ability for the operators to increase the tolls quarterly with absolutely no reference to the ability of road users to pay that and also noted the reintroduction of tolls on roads that were already paid for. I thank the member for Kellyville for his rather comical and somewhat distorted rewrite of history. I thank the member for Camden, who noted that tolls were brought in to pay for roads, not to pay for them three times over. She noted that the lack of job opportunities is forcing people to leave her electorate for work and that less than 1 per cent of her electorate have access to public transport, meaning they have little choice but to use toll roads.

I thank the member for Balmain for her insightful contribution noting that it is not surprising that a Liberal‑Nationals Government would impose a toll that pays three times over to a private company, and also noting the lack of alternative transport options or clever urban design. She made the point that a six-kilometre journey from her home takes an hour via our ailing public transport system, which, curiously, was left to fall into decay while the previous Government focused on toll roads. Finally, I thank the member for North Shore, who noted the Opposition's concern about the contracts of the last Labor Government. But rather than change and reduce them, it turned around and made our city the most tolled city on Earth. I also note her concerns for the residents of the lower North Shore for having to share the load of the toll mania in this city. As I said at the beginning, this is fundamentally a question of fairness. Tolls are a tax on the people of Western Sydney, who are the people most desperately suffering with the cost-of-living crisis. Our Government is on the side of the people of New South Wales, particularly the people of north-west and south-west Sydney, not on the side of the private operators simply wanting to profit from them.


The member for Riverstone has moved a motion, to which the member for Davidson has moved an amendment. The question is that the amendment be agreed to.

The House divided.




Amendment negatived.


The question is that the motion be agreed to.

Motion agreed to.

Stay updated about North Shore

North Shore Skyline