NSW Labor will scrap the state government’s proposed $10 billion “Beaches Link” tunnels connecting Sydney’s lower north shore and northern beaches if it wins the 2023 election, and redirect the funds to projects in the city’s west.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns told the NSW Labor state conference on Saturday that the population of Sydney’s northern beaches council area will increase by 31,000 over the next 20 years.
By comparison, the populations of Parramatta, Camden, Liverpool and Blacktown council areas will grow by more than 200,000 each.
As such, he promised to scrap plans for the 7km of tolled tunnels linking the lower north shore to Frenchs Forest and Balgowlah.
The Beaches Link remains in the public consultation phase and the Infrastructure NSW business case is still being reviewed.
Previously, the benefits of the twin tunnels – not expected to open for at least four more years – were found to marginally outweigh the costs.
Seven News this week reported that new premier Dominic Perrottet and transport minister Rob Stokes are also considering axing the tunnels, which were championed by former premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Mr Minns encouraged this course of action.
“We don’t need new expensive roads for the northern beaches … we need brand new public transport in Sydney’s west,” he said.
“A NSW Labor government will not approve this toll road and instead spend funds in western Sydney for much-needed public transport.
“Labor will fund the projects – the critical transport links – that open up economic opportunity and jobs for the people of western Sydney. We’ll build the infrastructure where Sydney is growing.”
The opposition leader did not outline his views on the government’s associated Western Harbour Tunnel – already under construction – connecting Rozelle in Sydney’s inner west to the lower north shore.
Mr Minns, the Kogarah MP and opposition leader since June, said he would also write to Mr Perrottet this week seeking bipartisan consensus on the prohibition of secret political donations in NSW.
It comes after damaging Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries in 2019 centred on prohibited donations to the Labor Party from Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo.
ICAC is yet to deliver its findings on the inquiry but Mr Minns said a “strong and independent ICAC” was vital in NSW.
“I know enough from the evidence at the public hearings that we have let down the people of NSW … Labor has fallen short of the high community standards expected (on) corporate political donations,” he said.
“And so has the Liberal Party. For reform on political donations to work, it needs bipartisan or even multi-partisan support to entrench a clear and transparent set of rules.”
The NSW anti-corruption watchdog will also soon begin publicly investigating whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust by failing to disclose her relationship with disgraced ex-MP Daryl Maguire.
That 10-day public hearing will begin on October 18.