The NSW Labor Opposition has welcomed a Parliamentary report into Sydney’s toll road system that confirms Sydney’s toll road system is unfair and shrouded in secrecy. 

The cross-party Upper House Committee inquiry into road tolling in NSW report outlines major flaws in the way the Berejiklian Government approaches toll roads, including WestConnex.

The Committee heard evidence that there is “a disproportionate impact of road tolls on the citizens and businesses of Western Sydney” and found that the “cap on the WestConnex project alone is inadequate”.

It condemned the secrecy surrounding the Sydney Motorway Corporation saying that “despite its multi-billion dollar price tag it is not subject to the same transparency and accountability arrangements that govern the rest of the public sector”.

The report had a long list of criticisms of the tolling system in NSW including that:

  • Residents in Western Sydney who may not use the whole road are “bearing an unfair proportion of the cost”.
  • Toll pricing for the entire Sydney network is “not transparent to road users”.
  • And “the inconsistent approach to escalation rates far above the consumer price index is of particular concern”.

The report also found that the Berejiklian Government has breached its own tolling principals by charging M4 motorists more than what’s necessary to subsidise other roads.

To improve road tolling in NSW, the Committee handed down ten recommendations including that:

  • Toll increases should be in line with CPI;
  • Capped tolling is considered;
  • An independent entity to oversee tolling contracts is established; and
  • The accountability of the SMC is enhanced.

Labor has previously announced a tolling transparency policy which is consistent with the recommendations of the report including that:

  • Toll escalation rates are capped at CPI;
  • IPART reviews all future toll agreements as being in the public interest;
  • The Auditor-General reviews all existing road toll contracts; and
  • Toll free periods occur on all new roads.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“This report backs in what Labor has been fighting for: greater transparency and a fairer tolling system in NSW.

“The unfair M4 toll has a disproportionate impact on Western Sydney residents – and it will for decades to come.

“The M4 toll even breaches the Government’s own tolling principles. It is unfair, unjustified and nothing more than a great big tax on Western Sydney.

“The Premier now needs to take a serious look at the report’s recommendations and Labor’s tolling policy that will improve transparency and make the tolling system fairer.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Roads Jodi McKay

“We’re pleased the tolling inquiry has identified the deficiency with SMC and has backed Labor’s calls for greater transparency.

“Labor currently has legislation before the Parliament to ensure the SMC has the same accountability and transparency as every other Government agency.

“Motorists have a right to know how the Government justifies tolls in the State.

“We want to see a fairer system in NSW for tolls and bringing in an independent entity, like IPART, to oversee tolling contracts is how to get there.”