NSW LABOR: ENDING THE SECRECY ON PRIVATISED TOLL ROADS
WEDNESDAY, 22 MARCH 2023
NSW Labor will end the secrecy around privatised toll roads in NSW by tabling in the Parliament key details of the existing toll contracts entered into over the past 12 years, as was recommended by two Parliamentary inquiries into tolling.
Releasing the details will provide an additional layer of transparency on the projects and ensure the public is fully informed about any secret deals and additional costs the government has baked into the contracts.
NSW Labor will release the contracts for the Northconnex and Westconnex tollways, as well as publishing an estimate of the total toll burden for drivers.
Ending the secrecy surrounding toll roads will ensure details about what taxpayers are on the hook for, including any non-compete clauses and compensation clauses contained in the contracts.
NSW Labor will publish an estimate of total toll burden on drivers, which the government has insisted on keeping secret – but which the NSW parliamentary inquiry into toll roads estimated at over $100 billion.
There is already a precedent for the release of these key details under a previous Labor government. On 9 November 2005 the Base Case Financial Models for both the Lane Cove Tunnel and the Westlink M7 (Western Sydney Orbital) were tabled in the Legislative Assembly.
The Parliamentary inquiry into Road Tolling recommended in 2017 that the Government publish the base case financial models for the NorthConnex and WestConnex projects.
The 2022 Inquiry into Road Tolling Regimes also called for their public release. The Government has refused to do so.
Under the Liberals – privatised toll road contracts are state secrets
In 2021 NSW, Treasury said, “That is still our view”… that the base case financial model for WestConnex should not be released until after 2060.
At the same inquiry, Treasury officials also refused to say how much drivers are paying in total under the privatised toll road contracts saying they will “not disclose that information.”
Labor will overhaul toll roads and implement a toll cap for motorists.
NSW Labor will introduce a $60 weekly toll cap. This will immediately help ease the burden of increasing tolls across Sydney and Western Sydney, and end the tolls on tolls by capping administration fees.
We will appoint Professor Allan Fels AO, former chairman of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), to lead an overhaul of the toll network. Professor Fels’s overhaul would:
immediately take charge of the current Treasury and Transport review of tolls;
be responsible for negotiating with tolling operators to drive a good deal for motorists; and
be tasked with looking at long term reform options to overhaul the tolling system in NSW including but not limited to potential competition in toll contracts, moving freight on toll roads at night, the intersection of public transport and toll roads, long term concessions, what other jurisdictions are doing and compliance with toll contracts.
With Labor, the review and recommendations will be made public; it will be open to submissions and we will consult with the transport sector and the toll paying public.
There’s a clear choice at the next election when it comes to tolls and privatisation in New South Wales. More privatisation and toll roads under Dominic Perrottet and the Liberals.
Or more and better toll relief under Labor, a long term plan to untangle the toll mess and no more privatisation.
Quotes attributable to Chris Minns, NSW Labor Leader:
“Only Labor has a plan to end the toll road mess and deliver the critical services for the people of NSW.
“Unlike the Liberals, we won’t be flogging off the state’s assets to do it, and we won’t be focused on more toll roads.
Quotes attributable to John Graham, NSW Shadow Minister for Roads:
“We don’t accept that toll costs are a state secret. Any driver in Sydney knows that tolls are high and rising. This is simply a coverup.
“An elected Labor Government would cap tolls at $60 per week and end the secrecy as Allan Fels begins the work of real long-term toll reform.”