South-west Sydney motorists will be hit with tolls for almost 50 years under plans to pay for the WestConnex motorway through Sydney's inner west.
Fairfax Media can reveal that a final draft of the WestConnex business case prepared for the O'Farrell government includes selling the right to charge tolls on the existing M5 West until 2060.
Tolls on the existing M5 are due to expire in 2026, when the road returns to public ownership.
But a copy of the financing strategy for WestConnex, prepared by Macquarie Capital and which the government has tried to keep secret, shows a plan to hit motorists on the M5 motorway deep into the 21st century.
"For the purpose of the Business Case, - $1.7 billion of financing has been assumed to be generated through the sale of a new concession on the existing M5 West from 2026 to 2060," a leaked copy of Macquarie Capital's finance strategy of July 2013 says.
"The sale is assumed to be completed in June 2018. Valuation of the new concession is based on forecast traffic volumes and revenues provided by SMPO [Sydney Motorways Project Office]."
Fairfax Media asked the government on Sunday if the WestConnex business case approved by cabinet in mid-2013 included the plan to levy motorists on the M5 West, which runs through Moorebank and past Liverpool, until 2060.
Fairfax Media also asked when the government was going to tell the community about the plans to extend tolls on the M5 past 2026.
A spokesman for the WestConnex Delivery Authority said: “The NSW government and the WDA are considering a range of financial options for WestConnex. No decisions have been made in relation to the M5 West.”
The leaked Macquarie Capital document also shows the state government, which is chipping in $1.8 billion for WestConnex, expected to receive $1.8 billion from the federal government for the motorway.
But the Abbott government has contributed $1.5 billion, meaning the state will need to find another $300 million.
Premier Barry O'Farrell and Roads Minister Duncan Gay have not explained in detail how they expect to pay for the rest of the 33-kilometre motorway.
The Macquarie Capital document says the motorway is expected to cost $11.4 billion in 2012 dollars but about $15 billion with inflation by the time it is to be finished in 2023. Macquarie believes the government can obtain about $4.8 billion in private sector finance, as well as $3.3 billion from selling the first stage of WestConnex to run from the M4 at Parramatta to near the City West Link at Ashfield.
Other sources of funding include the initial toll revenue from the widened M4, and the $1.7 billion from selling off the right to toll the M5 West.
Separate documents obtained by the NSW Parliament highlight the O'Farrell government's sensitivity to imposing more road tolls. But they also show the government has been bolstered by News Ltd's support for the WestConnex motorway, which will also require tolls to be reimposed on the M4 motorway between Parramatta and Concord.
The media strategy for WestConnex, drawn up in late 2012, cites strong support from The Daily Telegraph, which had "advocated strongly against perceived unfairness of tolling in the past".
Toll roads such as the M5 motorway in south-west Sydney typically revert to public ownership after a set time. The M5 West was due this year. But governments have granted the toll-road operator Interlink the right to continue tolling the road until 2026 in exchange for extra roadworks.
The M4 motorway that runs from Concord to Parramatta and Penrith reverted to government ownership in 2010, and motorists no longer have to pay a toll. But a toll of about $4 one way will be reimposed on the M4 when it is widened between Parramatta and Concord as the first stage of the WestConnex.
Mr Gay has been unable to say how much time motorists would save in return for paying this toll.
Tender documents show Macquarie Capital, which also advised on Labor's ill-fated CBD Metro project, was paid about $2.5 million for its work on WestConnex last year.