NEWS THAT MATTERS
Springtime for toll mania
While tolls are surging across Sydney, which is little comfort for Coasties who drive to and work in Sydney, Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet refuses to release his government’s long awaited review of Sydney’s tolling regime. But why the exorbitant cash grab? The Perrottet Government has all but cooked the state's books through a budget con.
27 January 2023
IN A feeble attempt to claim bragging rights, Dominic Perrottet last year claimed that a review into toll roads, announced in 2021, would be released in 2022 – a review that was supposed to help untangle the toll road mess created by Dominic Perrottet and the Liberals.
But all motorists have heard is the ching, ching, ching of Liberal cash registers and a half-hearted rebate up to $750 per year for drivers that pay more than $375 per annum in tolls.
What can only be described as an insult to road users, the relief is worth less already after Westconnex tolls on the M4, M5 East and M8 have increased by a whopping 6.1 per cent in one go – the largest ever single toll increase.
Sydney’s regular commuters can expect to be slammed with an average annual toll bill of over $4,500, on the WestConnex M4 alone, in 2023.
Commuters who use the Hills M2 or Northconnex will see their average annual toll bill surge by almost $300 this year.
Five of the city’s toll roads will see an increase of over seven per cent – this is almost double the rate of toll increases last year.
Meanwhile Northconnex will have seen quarterly toll increases totalling 7.35 per cent over the past year.
Over the remaining life of the existing toll road contract, Sydney motorists will pay $115 billion, all going to private toll road operators.
And given 17 out of the 20 most tolled communities in NSW are in Western Sydney, drivers in the west will be hit the hardest – tolls are a secret tax on Western Sydney
But instead of looking to make things better for drivers hit with these massive toll increases, the Liberals are trying to hide the truth from Sydney motorists.
John Graham, NSW Shadow Minister for Roads, said “The fact this review is being hidden is an admission that tolls are out of control in Sydney.”
“Because of Dominic Perrottet, Sydney is the most tolled city in the world,” he said.
“Releasing this review is a chance for a genuine city-wide discussion about toll reform during the election campaign. Instead, it appears the Premier has simply given up.
“I am calling on the Premier to reconsider and release this report.”
The question that the Premier fails to answer but is no doubt on everyone’s lips – “Why does Sydney have so many tolls?”
The problem in NSW is there's a lack of competition for building the toll roads and Transurban almost has a monopoly. And everyone knows what happens with a monopoly - you don't get the benefit of competition, which means the tolls are higher than they otherwise need to be.
But why the massive cash grab at the expense of motorists?
The Auditor-General has slammed the Perrottet government for all but cooking the state’s books through a budget con involving the Transport Asset Holding Entity.
A scathing new report tabled in Parliament shows how the Liberal Party used the controversial rail corporation to falsify every budget they handed down since 2015.
At least $6.4 billion worth of expenses related to operating the rail system were never reported. The government hid them using complex accounting tricks. Budget surpluses ended up being inflated. Deficits were shrunk without a proper basis. Every budget Mr Perrottet gave as Treasurer and Premier relied on this sham.
The Auditor-General further warns that TAHE has created a multi-billion budget blackhole. She found that future governments will need to find a further $10.2 billion for TAHE from 2026-27 to 2030-2031. Mr Perrottet's Expenditure Review Committee knows about the need for this bailout. But it is yet to be confirm that it will provide the money.
Last Tuesday (24 February) the Premier committed to carrying on with his budget-con if he gets a fourth term. Labor has announced that it will instead abolish TAHE. Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said this move would stop NSW from diverting money away from schools and hospitals to prop up an accounting sham.
“TAHE is a budget con that’s turned into a fiscal bomb. It has led to a looming $10 billion budget black-hole,” Mr Mookhey said.
“If Mr Perrottet is re-elected, it will detonate the state’s finances. The Premier will have to slash spending in our schools and hospitals to save this accounting sham from falling over completely.
"That’s why no one should a believe a single election promise Dominic Perrottet makes. Until he explains how we will pay for his $10 billion budget blackhole, he doesn't have the money to fund them.
“The rolling TAHE scandal is further proof that this government best days are behind them.”
Yet the Perrottet Government continues to screw-over motorists for cash to help balance a financial blackhole.
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