Newly elected NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has scored early campaign points with the state’s truckies by calling for an end to new tolls on existing roads and no new agreements that increase tolls above inflation.
The former Shadow Transport Minister has been a long-time opponent of what he called the Liberal Party’s toll mania on Sydney motorways, and he made it clear the issue would remain top of his agenda after replacing Jodi McKay as Opposition Leader.
Minns also told The Sydney Morning Herald that the sell-off of the government’s remaining share in WestConnex must be stopped to prevent a “toll road monopoly”.
The 41-year-old said he was also opposed to “slapping new tolls on roads that have already been paid off” such as the M4 and the M5 East.
The toll on the M4 was scrapped in 2010 but reintroduced in 2017 when the government widened the motorway. The toll for the M5 East tunnel, which opened in 2001, was introduced in July 2020.
M5/ M8 at $20 each way trucks are forced to use surface roads. Billions of dollars spent on toll tunnels has seen surface traffic massively increase. Own goal!
— Chris Minns (@MinnsChris) May 11, 2021
Tolling is set for renewed scrutiny by a parliamentary inquiry next month, with Minns indicating he plans to prosecute the government’s system of privatising tolled motorways to bankroll its expansive infrastructure pipeline.
Transurban NSW group executive Michele Huey told the Herald that the company was open to working with the state government on significant toll reform in Sydney.
“When you look across the myriad of toll roads that we have, the lots of different tolling regimes that made sense at the time … there may be an opportunity for us to look at how we can refresh the tolling regime,” she said.
Among the ideas raised by Transurban are a wider implementation of distance-based tolling on motorways, instead of a flat rate, which Huey said would result in a more consistent system.