NSW opposition leader Chris Minns says a Labor government would scrap plans for a $ 10 billion road tunnel connecting Sydney’s northern beaches with the city’s northeast.
- Chris Minns tells Labor State Conference Western Sydney has been left behind
- He also says that political donations must cease
- Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet welcomes the Labor leader’s call for reform
Speaking via Zoom at the party’s annual state conference on Saturday, Mr Minns said funds should be diverted to public transport infrastructure to western Sydney.
“Parramatta’s population will increase by 204,000, Camden by 227,000, Liverpool by 229,000 and Blacktown by 264,000 over the next two decades,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the northern beaches will grow by only 31,000 and Mosman by only 1,000 people in the same period.”
The Beaches Link toll road, which consists of 7 kilometers of tunnels, connects the Warringah Freeway at Cammeray to Balgowlah and Seaforth.
The 2021-22 state budget allocated $ 454 million for the Western Harbor Tunnel, Beaches Link and Warringah Freeway upgrade for the fiscal year and $ 6.3 billion over four years.
The project is expected to be completed in 2028.
Meanwhile, Mr Minns said Western Sydney had been left behind.
“We do not need new expensive roads to the northern beaches,” he said faithfully to the party.
“We need brand new public transport in Sydney’s southwest.”
Western Sydney is emerging as a major political battleground for the 2023 state election.
This week, newly installed Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said the western suburbs would be “where the heart of the government is” [would] be, “and Penrith MP Stuart Ayers was appointed Vice President of the Liberal Party.
Calls for an end to political donations
In his conference speech, the opposition leader also called for a bipartisan agreement to end secret political donations.
“I am writing to the new NSW Premier this week urging him to work with me to conclude secret political donations to parties in NSW,” he said.
“For reforms to make political donations work, bipartisan or even multi-party support is needed to anchor a clear and transparent set of rules.”
Perrottet agreed that there should be no secret donations to political parties.
“Of course it should not be,” Perrottet said at today’s COVID-19 briefing.
“It’s refreshing that Labor has moved on from the days of the Aldi bag to a donation reform … I have not seen the details, but if that’s what their policy is, it sounds incredibly refreshing.”
The Aldi bag concerns accusations from NSW Labor about political donations back to 2015.
An ongoing independent commission against corruption (ICAC) investigation called Operation Aero is investigating whether members of Chinese workmates and ALP affiliates tried to circumvent state donation laws.
A query sitting in 2019 heard that an Aldi shopping bag full of cash had allegedly been delivered to the party headquarters by a Chinese billionaire.
In his keynote address, Mr Minns expressed his support for this study.
“I have no knowledge of the findings that will emerge in our organization,” Mr Minns said.
“But I know enough from the evidence at the public hearings that we have failed the people of NSW.”
He said his goal was for the state to have the most transparent financial disclosure system in the country.