Roads Amendment (Toll-free Period) Bill 2020

15 October 2020

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (11:47:42) —  I offer a brief contribution to the debate on the Roads Amendment (Toll-free Period) Bill 2020, which was introduced by my colleague the Hon. John Graham in the other place and by the Leader of the Opposition in this House.

The bill is actually about fairness. It is about not increasing the cost of living during an economic recession and about being focused and united in serving the people of New South Wales.

Unlike the Liberal Party, which is constantly dealing with internal bickering and self-inflicted crises, NSW Labor is focused on the issues that are important to the people of New South Wales.

It was Labor that led the debate on making masks mandatory on public transport. It was Labor that led the debate on the icare scandal.

It is Labor that has championed environmental causes in for decades, including protecting our endangered and precious koala habitats.

It is Labor that is focused on the bread-and-butter issues of families who are struggling financially during this crisis.

At a time of unprecedented unemployment and economic uncertainty, when people are facing cutbacks to their working hours and conditions, the Government's response is to slug motorists on the M5 East with a new and unfair toll.

The Government will not even give motorists on NorthConnex a fair go. Instead, it will stitch up a corporate deal that further penalises motorists at the worst possible time.

I do not expect many members on the other side to understand this issue. After all, in their government-paid limousines they would never see a toll bill.

There is no toll on Military Road from Mosman, but there is a new one on the M5 East—a road which is used by tens of thousands of south-west Sydney motorists every day.

In 2000, the M5 East opened as a freeway under the Labor Government and it had been toll free until recently.

Under this Liberal Government, motorists are now paying more than $3,300 a year in tolls for the same old road.

This bill that was introduced by my colleague in the Upper House acknowledges the unfairness and inequity of this Liberal Government's agenda.

Rather than giving to those most in need during this pandemic, all this Government does is take, take and take. It takes $6.95 each way from motorists on the M5 East, all the while robbing our nurses, firies, paramedics and teachers—the very people who use the M5 East—of a much-needed pay increase.

That is a double whammy for the hardworking people of south-west Sydney. How can we get the economy moving again when people are slugged up to $3,000 a year to drive on a road that is no better than the one that they have been using for the past 19 years without a toll?

The bill is about bringing back fairness for motorists. Labor will always stand for fairness. That is why we will always stand up against toll operators whose sole motivation is to do backroom corporate deals with this Liberal Government to line their coffers at the expense of motorists.

The bill is also an opportunity to curb the toll mania that is in the DNA of this Government.

You will pay, pay and pay. You will pay more, you will pay now and you will pay forever.

South-west Sydney motorists have had enough.

Over the past few months some of my Labor colleagues and I have been running a petition on this issue, and the response has been overwhelming.

Residents are fed up, and if I were the member for Holsworthy, the Member for East Hills, the Member for Oatley or the Member for Camden, I would be very worried.

The Coalition is already divided and on shaky ground.

Joining members on my side of the House in supporting a bill about fairness may be an opportunity for them to save their jobs. Anything less would be a betrayal of their constituents.

I commend the bill to the House.