Toll roads review to start as Minns vows to deliver fairer system for drivers

The NSW Labor government will start its sweeping overhaul of tolling on Wednesday, with former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Allan Fels joining Premier Chris Minns and senior ministers to receive their first briefings on Sydney’s sprawling motorway network.

Fels will be commissioned on Wednesday to lead the promised overhaul of the city’s controversial road tolling system after Labor campaigned heavily on the financial burden the patchwork of tollways has on drivers amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Former ACCC chair Allan Fels will head the review of tolling.

Louie Douvis

NSW Treasury and Transport for NSW officials will brief Minns, Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, Roads Minister John Graham and Fels before the competition expert starts his work on the review.

Fels will take over the Treasury and Transport review of tolls, started under the former Coalition government, and he will also be responsible for negotiating with tolling operators and will be tasked with looking at long-term reform options to overhaul the system in NSW.

This will include “potential competition in toll contracts, moving freight on toll roads at night and the intersection of public transport and toll roads” as well as examining what other jurisdictions are doing and compliance with toll contracts.

Allan Fels will lead the promised overhaul of Sydney’s controversial road tolling system.

Alex Ellinghausen

The government has committed to ensuring the review and recommendations are made public but in the meantime will introduce a $60-a-week toll cap for motorists from the beginning of next year.

Minns said a thorough review of Sydney’s toll network was needed to overhaul the “complicated system and provide hip pocket relief for tens of thousands of motorists”.

“Sydney has become crisscrossed by a complicated network of toll roads, and we need to find a simpler and more equitable system for the people of NSW,” Minns said.

“The NSW Labor government is committed to toll relief for motorists and helping ease the cost of living, especially for motorists in western Sydney who use these roads to get to work every day.”

Labor has also promised to reveal for the first time the full extent of the multibillion-dollar tolling deals, including any potential compensation to motorway giants, and will table to parliament key details of the lucrative agreements between the government and the private sector.

Work on the promised tolling system overhaul will start on the same day as Minns’ broader ministry is sworn in at Government House, with a historic shift that will result in women occupying 50 per cent of frontbench positions.

One of the most senior women to be sworn in as a minister said achieving gender parity in the cabinet was the result of 28 years work since the Labor Party committed to introducing quotas.

Penny Sharpe, leader of the government in the upper house and environment and heritage minister, said she was proud to be at the decision-making table to show women of NSW that they were equally represented.

“Our parliament should look like our people,” she said. “I was at the conference in 1994 when Joan Kirner and Penny Wong and Julia Gillard had the fight that said, ‘it’s not enough to have a target. You need to have rules and you need to be committed.’ It’s taken us 28 years to get here.”

Minns has also confirmed independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper will be the new speaker.

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