Recall that Sydney’s toll road network is the most expensive and extensive in the world, comprising:
- new M4 WestConnex
- Eastern Distributor
- Cross-City Tunnel
- Lane Cove Tunnel
- Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Sydney Harbour Tunnel
- M4 tunnels
- M5 (from Beverly Hills to St Peters)
- M5 East (Beverly Hills to General Holmes Drive)
- M4-M5 link
Tolls on some of Sydney’s roads are also rising at triple the rate of inflation (4% per annum), including:
- M4 between Parramatta and Homebush
- Eastern Distributor
Yesterday, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns hit out at new Premier Dominic Perrottet over Sydney’s rising tolls, vowing to make the issue a key election battleground:
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At a press conference after he was elected party leader, Mr Perrottet spruiked the government’s investment in infrastructure in recent times, pointing to the WestConnex road project.
“I know the Labor leader, they were against the WestConnex project,” Mr Perrottet said.
“The WestConnex is now a tourist attraction. People love driving on it. It gets people home to their families faster…
Mr Minns said the NSW Liberal Party failed to understand the cost of living pressures faced by families in Western Sydney, nominating increased tolls as an area of concern.
“Only a few weeks ago, during the height of the COVID-19, Treasurer Perrottet was busy flogging off the remaining 49 per cent of the NSW government’s share of WestConnex to lock in a privately owned toll monopoly,” Mr Minns said in a statement.
“Day one as Premier and Mr Perrottet has said ‘WestConnex is now a tourist attraction’.
“Well it would be cheaper to fly the family to Disneyland than pay Sydney tolls under the Liberals”…
Mr Minns said there were some families across Sydney’s west and southwest who were paying more than $6,000 a year in road tolls.
“Not only did Mr Perrottet sign Western Sydney up to four per cent yearly increases, making Sydney the highest tolled city in the world – he is now handing record toll road revenues over to private companies, instead of delivering infrastructure and economic support to Western Sydney,” Mr Minns said.
“Meanwhile, Sydney drivers are paying $2.3 billion a year in tolls, and clocking up over 1 million toll trips a day.”
Fair enough. Chris Minns’ criticisms are valid. But let’s also acknowledge that Sydney’s toll road proliferation is a symptom of the city’s extreme immigration (population growth). This has facilitated the rent-seeking economic model, which works as follows:
- Stuff in people so that new roads are needed.
- Build roads with public/private partnerships and allow fat charges to the existing population to use them.
- Standards of living actually fall given all you have done is privately tax folks to get home when before the people-stuffing they were doing it for free.
- Politicians get to pretend that they are good economic managers as GDP rises and they are doing something about congestion (caused by people-stuffing).
- Toll road owner Transurban and its foreign backers get ever richer driving jobs to the city while raising the exchange rate and hollowing out suburban factories, requiring ever more use of its roads.
- Rinse and repeat until death by debt.
This entire model is predicated on firms like Transurban privatising the gains from mass immigration while socialising the costs on everyone else via giant private taxes.
Does Chris Minns support this model or not? And will he lobby against a return to ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration?
I strongly suspect he won’t. He’ll instead cry crocodile tears as Sydney’s population balloons by the millions necessitating more expensive infrastructure, including toll roads.