At the New South Wales state election last weekend, the Berejiklian-Barilaro Liberal Nation Coalition government was re-elected for a third term. They won with a reduced majority of 48 seats in the 93 seat parliament. At this time we do not know who will be the transport minister in this term in government, but it would be reasonable to believe that Andrew Constance will likely retain the position going forward.
As we outlined last week, there are a number of transport policies that were part of their election platform and will begin to be delivered throughout this term in government including;
- 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
- F6 Extension
- 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
Obviously as this government has been reelected, they will be able to deliver some of their cornerstone projects from the past two terms including that are yet to be completed;
- CBD and South East Light Rail
- Sydney Metro Northwest
- Westconnex M4 and M5 East tunnels
The government has promised to follow through on all of their promises, regardless of which party won in the corresponding seat. This means that seats that voted for Labor, the Greens, the Shooters or an Independent will still get their promised upgrades. The government has tried to make this evident in an attempt to keep voters onside. In particular, expect very marginal Labor seats such as the gains of Coogee and Lismore to receive everything that they were promised in the hope of winning them back next time round. But even in safe Labor or independent seats transport projects will still go ahead, as the government doesn’t wish to be seen as pork barreling in their safest seats.
Throughout this term of government there are many different things that we can expect. There will be very little change in the way the transport operates from last term, particularly given it will be the same government in power.
Lots of ribbon cutting should be an obvious thing that will ramp up this time round. Many of the flagship projects launched in the first term of the current government are now nearing completion and we can expect major coverage of their openings. The first one will be the Sydney Metro North West on May 5, which is the first state of the major rail expansion program under Sydney Metro branding and will be the first automated rail line to open in Australia. We will also see the opening of the Randwick branch of the CBD and South East light rail in December.
We will see more and more construction. As all of the new projects promised continue with their construction or begin in the next few months and years, we will see even more transport related construction sites. This will obviously cause some disruption but will in the longer term deliver better outcomes for these areas. Expect more Sydney Metro sites to go up in the CBD and Inner West, with road tunnels going under the North Shore and Inner South.
We can also expect more privatisation of our transport operations. We already know that the Epping-Chatswood and Sydenham-Bankstown rail lines are being privatised as part of the Sydney Metro upgrades in this term. It would be unsurprising if more State Transit bus service regions are sold off this term as it was a foundational change that was pushed by the government in the last term.
The Liberals will also likely continue their union bashing agenda that occurred throughout the last term. Here at Transport NSW Blog we are proud to support the union movement and particularly the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU). The RTBU has been attacked viciously by the Liberals constantly over the last eight years, due to their opposition to privatisation and pay freezes impletzemed by this governments. These attacks on unions need to stop, but it is foreseeable that they will continue given the ideological anti-union views of this government.
This is not the outcome we advocated for in our pre-election editorial last week, and we still don’t think this is the best outcome for transport in New South Wales. We can only hope that Constance gets moved on to another portfolio and a more competent minister takes his place. We also need to advocate for the end of the privatisation agenda and union bashing conduced by this government to ensure the best outcomes for transport in this term of government.