Labor NSW tackles road tolls

New modelling shows New South Wales drivers have paid $14 billion in tolls over the last 10 years and that cost is expected to rise.

To challenge this trend, NSW Labor will introduce legislation to tackle the Federal Government’s toll agenda which has seen Sydney’s road toll network become one of the most extensive and expensive in the world.

Sydney, in the next few years, will have 15 toll roads.

Shadow Minister for Roads, John Graham, will today give notice of Labor’s Lower Tolls and Transparent Tolling Agreements Bill in the NSW Legislative Council.

The Bill would establish a set of principles, including:

  • No future tolling agreements will allow annual toll increases above the CPI.
  • The Bill would require the relevant toll costs to be displayed at the entry to each toll road.
    The Auditor-General will be asked to conduct a review into the Government’s existing toll road contracts, providing much-needed transparency on the tolling agreements.
  • The NSW Audit Office would be granted specific ‘follow the dollar’ powers for this purpose, which would allow it to audit services contracted to private sector providers.
  • Future tolling agreements would be subject to review by IPART who would impose a new public interest test. The test would be applied before the Government signed a new toll contract. This would require that IPART, as the independent regulator, has determined that the contract is in the public interest.
  • All future toll roads will have a toll-free period on opening, to protect commuter safety and allow drivers to adjust to the new road conditions.
  • The Bill will require that the Government must publish toll road contract summaries and strategic business cases at appropriate stages of the construction and operation of new toll roads.
  • The Bill would ban future toll road contracts from containing exclusivity clauses that prevent alternative public transport options being created. All existing exclusivity clauses will be reported to Parliament.

NSW Labor Leader, Jodi McKay, said the Bill is the first step to ensure fairness and transparency in road tolling.

“This Government’s addiction to tolls has led to Sydney becoming one of the most tolled cities in the world,” she said.

“These tolls are hurting families doing it tough and making it harder for truckies and tradies to do business. Real wage growth is flat but tolls just keep going up – with no relief in sight. Something has to be done.”

Labor modelling based on published toll road financial statements and the result of parliamentary questioning has revealed that tolls paid by Sydney drivers from 2011/12 to 2020/21 financial years will surpass $14 billion.

This is expected to rise as tolls increase with the full impact of Northconnex, the final state of Westconnex, the Western Harbour Tunnel / Beaches Link and potential for the doubling of tolls on the Harbour Bridge and Tunnel are still to come.