M5 East toll slammed as "a tax on the people of south west Sydney"

Travelling towards the city, the M8 enters the tunnel from the middle lanes while the M5 lanes bypass them on either side. Picture: WestConnex
Travelling towards the city, the M8 enters the tunnel from the middle lanes while the M5 lanes bypass them on either side. Picture: WestConnex

NSW Government figures show the total windfall from the new M5 East toll could be as high as $12 billion.

This means commuters will pay the original $800 million cost of the long-established M5 East motorway at least 15 times over.

NSW Labor has condemned Gladys Berejiklian's commitment to 'toll mania', as motorists travelling from Sydney's south-west now pay almost $7 each way for access to the same road they've freely used for two decades.

Campbelltown MP and opposition spokesman for western Sydney Greg Warren visited Riverwood today to meet truck drivers who were furious about the charges.

"How many times do drivers in south west Sydney need to pay for the same road?," he said.

"Commuters and truck drivers have driven this road every day for two decades and relied on it to get into the city.

"This is a tax on the people of south west Sydney."

Veli Djurdjevic took to the Advertiser Facebook page to voice his concern about the new toll.

"Obviously the government's way of dealing with city congestion [is] by pricing the westies out," he said.

"Which is all the more reason to develop and expand the Aerotropolis around the Western Sydney Airport.

"It'll be Australia's first smart city with the latest tech and make the Sydney CBD look prehistoric. There'll be no reason to go to the Sydney CBD soon."

The NSW Labor party is calling for a toll-free period on the road during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However the NSW Government has said that there will not be any grace period for motorists.

Camden MP Peter Sidgreaves (Liberal) told the Advertiser last week that the Premier had made it clear that "there will be no grace period due to toll relief options like free registration or half-price registration from Service NSW".

He said the M5 East's capacity had doubled in recent years.

"I think it shaves at least 30 minutes off the trip, so that saves people an hour on a round trip," Mr Sidgreaves said.

"If I could save that hour and spend it with my family I would expect, and be happy, to pay for it."

Roma Jenner took to the Advertiser Facebook page to rebut Mr Sidgreaves comments.

"Easy for Mr Sidgreaves to say he'd be happy to pay for it," he said.

"He's a politician on full salary who gets allowances for everything.

"No understanding of the lives and challenges of workers. Pity he's not more prepared to support the community he supposedly represents."

Truck drivers will fork out $20.86 per trip on the M5 East.

Drivers managing multiple deliveries will pay up to $14,000 a year.

NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said it was unfair for the government to slug motorists with these tolls.

"This government sold our electricity network to pay for roads, they sold half of WestConnex to pay for roads, and now they're forcing drivers to pay a hefty new toll on a road which was already paid for," she said.

"It makes no sense.

"We are in a recession. Workers, families and businesses are all struggling.

"It's cruel and unfair to force motorists and truck drivers to shoulder the burden of this Government's budget mismanagement."

Kathy Wood also voiced her opinion about the new toll on a 20-year-old road on the Advertiser Facebook page.

"There's still going to be a hefty toll on an old road that has previously been free to use," she said.

"I feel sorry for people that have to use this road to get to work, a large chunk of their wage will be gone in tolls before they even get paid.

"What are we paying our taxes for if they are selling everything off to contractors?"

The opposition spokesman for roads John Graham (Labor) said truckies and tradies would be hit especially hard hit.

"Labor built this road. The public paid for it. Now the Government wants the public to pay for it 15 times over," he said.

"Ultimately we'll all pay because some of that cost will be passed on to consumers."