NSW Election Roundup

Tomorrow, Saturday March 23rd 2019, is the polling day for the 2019 NSW State Election. Both the Labor and Liberal parties have made many promises in the area of transport, which will deliver a variety of improvements to transport regardless of which government is voted over this weekend. This election is shaping up to be close, with polls suggesting Labor is ahead 50.5% to 49.5% despite late stumbles for the party. This would deliver a hung parliament if replicated at the election.

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Micheal Daley (Labor) and Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal National Coalition) are going head to head in a tight election this weekend – AAP

The incumbent Liberal National coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian has now been in power for 8 years and to some extent is beginning to experience incumbency fatigue. They are pointing to their record on delivering transport projects for the state as one of the main reasons that they should be re-elected. Despite this, very little of their major policy commitments in the area of transport over the last 8 years have actually been delivered. Only the B-Line bus rapid project and Newcastle light rail have had ribbons cut, with signature projects such as the CBD and South East light rail and Sydney Metro Northwest not being ready for operations till the next term of government. Additionally, most of these major projects have also been marred by controversy and chaos. This chaos including a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over light rail contracts and structural failures in bridge spans for the Sydney Metro. In the regions, these inner Sydney transport projects are highly unpopular, particularly as there has been a lack of investment in country infrastructure in the most recent term of government.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has consistently proved a divisive figure, and many in the transport industry will be hoping for him to either be voted out or moved to a different portfolio in the next term of government. He doesn’t seem to truely understand public transport and has a very ideological profit and privatisation agenda that isn’t compatible with public services.

This government hasn’t been able to pull together a cohesive narrative for transport over 8 years and probably needed to do more to win over transport conscious voters.

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Berejiklian’s signature Sydney Light Rail Project has been poorly executed and is relatively unpopular – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The Liberal National coalition are going in with a number of transport policies for this election.

  • Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Sydney Metro West projects fast tracked
  • Outer West North South Metro and extension to Sydney Metro West projects to connect to Western Sydney Airport from day one of airport operation
  • Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • 17 additional Waratah Series 2 trains to allow for additional new Sydney Trains services to Western Sydney
  • More Buses to deliver 14 000 extra weekly services over four years
  • $50 weekly cap on Public Transport Fares
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Labor is once again going into the election with a near unknown leader in Michael Daley. Last time Labor was in government they promised a large number of public transport projects, but didn’t really deliver of many of them. The Airport Line, Epping-Chatswood Rail Link and T-Way network were their biggest deliveries, whilst the North West and South West rail links that they promised in government haven’t seen any construction until the Liberals gained government. They once again are running on a platform of cancellations, but given these projects are mostly dubious anyway, it actually is a good way to stop wasteful spending that often occurs with fatigued governments. On the other hand, they typically have shown a good understanding of the issues that have been affecting the community in the transport space, getting involved in many local grassroots groups to advocate for better public transport.

Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay has consistently been on top of the major transport issues over the last term in government and has proved very competent in opposition. Having spent time as both a Newcastle and a Inner West MP she has a very good understanding of the areas where come of the biggest transport clashes often occur. She also comes with a string of endorsements from a number of key figures from inside the transport industry, including a number RTBU sectaries as well as employees at government operators State Transit and Sydney Trains.

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Labor has been very good at understanding grassroots transport concerns over the past term of government – Transport NSW Blog collection via Colin Magee

Labor has a number of transport policies going into this election

  • Free public transport for all school students
  • A new train timetable, with reduced travel times for Western Sydney
  • Reduce station access fee to $5 at both Domestic and International stations, with $0 fee for registered airport workers
  • $8 billion to fast track the construction of Sydney Metro West from the CBD to Westmead
  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City (and Southwest if contracts can’t be broken)
  • $3 billion for signalling and track improvements to the rail network
  • Extension of South West Rail Link to Western Sydney Airport.
  • Expanded bus services in areas where services have been cut or in “missing links”
  • Refund for train services that are excessively delayed for avoidable reasons
  • No more privatisation of transport services and buy back of selected privatised transport services
  • Scrapping of Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • M4 toll cashback
  • Hold a Judicial Inquiry into WestConnex and the Sydney Light Rail
  • Introduce a new community consultation scheme for transport changes
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Neither party can be considered to be entirely inspiring or competent in the area of transport going into the next term. The Liberals have been the ones to actually get down to construction on many transport projects. However, the arrogance and lack of understanding on behalf of Berejiklian and Constance as well as the failure to deliver projects could prove costly. On the other hand, Labor has a history of cancelling projects and not actually delivering on their promises. Despite this, they have a much better platform for this election and go in with the benefits of a fresh slate and a popular, experienced shadow minster in McKay. 

A minority government where minor parties and independents are able to hold the major parties to account on their transport policies will be the best outcome of this election. Many of them including the Greens, Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper have good policies on transport themselves and would likely be very willing to push their own agenda. Due to the possibility that Andrew Constance might retain the transport portfolio if the Liberals are involved in said minority government, it would be somewhat marginally preferable for Labor to be the major party in this minority agreement.

Don’t forget that you MUST vote if you are registered and to look our for our post outlining the impact of the result of the election next week. Enjoy your democracy sausage!

 

 

2 Replies to “NSW Election Roundup”

    1. Surely being endorsed by the union and employees that you will have to work with for the next four year can be seen as a positive. The current minister has shown utter contempt for the people working in the industry and it is fair that they want a change. The RTBU does a very good job fighting for government run public transport and this blog supports any group who wishes to push for improvements in transport.

      Like

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