NSW Parliament will debate the re-introduction of the M4 toll after a petition started by the NSW Opposition gained more than 10,000 signatures.
During a visit to the area this week with Londonderry MP Prue Car, Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the local community was so strongly opposed to the toll’s re-introduction that Penrith MP Stuart Ayres - also the Minister for Western Sydney and the WestConnex - risked losing his seat over the issue at the next election.
The toll would be introduced at $4.56 per way, increasing by one per cent every quarter, which was well in excess of wages growth in the west and simply put more pressure on locals, he said.
“We’ve collected over 10,000 signatures from local residents against the re-introduction of the toll on the M4,” he told reporters. “We learned on Friday that it’s not even going to start at the $4.21 they promised, it’s going to start at $4.56.
“The widened road is running late, but they still put up your tolls before … they even cut the ribbon. It’s really just a great big tax on western Sydney motorists.
“[Mr Ayres] has got to listen to the people. There was a very big swing to Labor [at the local government elections] and Stuart Ayres will lose his seat unless he wakes up and listens here.
“He said he put some options to Cabinet, but wasn’t listened to, so you’ve got to ask what influence does he have in his own government?”
Ms Car said communites across the west were “furious” about the issue, and that the announcement of a one month toll free period on the widened M4 was “an insult”.
“It’s really just a kick in the guts to commuters who are going to be forced to get on that road, pay more than $2,000 a year when cost of living pressures in this part of Sydney are out of control,” she said.
The petition would be lodged in parliament next week however it would be up to the government to decide on the timing of the debate, Ms Car said.
Mr Ayres responded in a statement accusing Labor of “completely ignoring” Penrith by refusing to finish the M4.
“Labor is happy to force Penrith motorists to pay $21.94 one way to travel on the M7/M2/Lane Cove Tunnel/Harbour Bridge to the city but refuse to support finishing a new M4,” he stated. “Once WestConnex is complete you will be able to travel from Penrith to the Anzac Bridge without passing a set of traffic lights.
“Labor had 16 years to finish the M4 and instead, completely ignored Penrith. They still don’t want to build it- they haven't learned a thing. If elected they would down tools and stop construction- a disaster for Penrith road users.
“Whilst Labor talk and talk and talk and talk amongst themselves about the roads western Sydney needs, the Liberal government is getting on with building them.”