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Monday, 18 February 2002
Page: 315


Mr MOSSFIELD (1:48 PM) —At the conclusion of this statement I will table a petition of over 700 signatures of Western Sydney residents opposed to the proposed toll on the Western Sydney Orbital. The Western Sydney Orbital will be the last link in the national highway system that stretches over 18,500 kilometres around Australia. If the toll goes ahead, it will be the only section of the entire highway system that has a user-pays charge placed on it. The federal government has the responsibility to build and maintain the national highway, and it can fund the entire Orbital without a toll if it chooses to. It chooses not to, however. Western Sydney is already surrounded by tolls—on the M2, M4 and M5. We do not need, nor do we want, yet another cost burden placed on us to travel to and from our own homes. I understand the member for Chifley will also be tabling a similar petition of similar proportions later today. The level of anger over the issue runs high throughout Western Sydney. This government would do well to heed the calls by local residents regarding the imposition of the toll.

The petition I will table was organised by Blacktown City Council, which have taken a leading role in the anti-toll campaign, and I thank them for their efforts. It is time that the government owned up to its responsibility and built this vital national highway link without disadvantaging Western Sydney residents with the imposition of an inequitable and unnecessary toll. I hereby table the petition.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives assembled in the Parliament:

The petition of certain citizens of Australia draws to the attention of the House:

The Western Sydney Orbital (WSO) will provide an essential link road for many Western Sydney motorists.

The WSO is part of the National Highway route. It is the only part of the National Highway route that is proposed to be a toll road.

Western Sydney motorists already pay tolls on the M2, M4 and M5. Further tolls in Western Sydney impose an unacceptable burden on motorists.

The rest of the National Highway route has been constructed without any toll imposition. It is not equitable for the residents of Western Sydney to pay a toll for use of the WSO.

Your petitioners believe that by imposing a toll on the Western Sydney Orbital, the government is not meeting its obligations and commitments to the residents of Western Sydney or to the wider community.

We therefore pray that the House will immediately implement a “toll free” Western Sydney Orbital in recognition of the needs of the community.