Meeting with state member for Ivanhoe, Anthony Carbines MP

On Monday 16th June 2014, John D'Aloia, Harris Williams and myself met with State Member for Ivanhoe, Anthony Carbines. This is a follow up to the earlier meeting on 22nd October last year.  The meeting was a productive one lasting approximately one and a half hours and covered a range of topics including transport, the environment, planning, North East and East West Links and forthcoming election.

Regarding North East Link, we again raised our concerns that this project which is mentioned in the Victorian Government's Plan Melbourne document and its Freight Strategy, is still on the agenda. Planning Minister Matthew Guy had previously advised us, this project was not on the government's radar. We had concerns despite this, that it's still clearly part of the government's plans. We noted that we understood Labor's position was, that it no longer intended to pursue this project (as quoted by our local member recently in the Heidelberg Leader). Mr Carbines reconfirmed that was the case. Noting that this project was Labor's position in the 2010 election, which they subsequently lost and N/E Link is no longer in their plans.

We discussed congestion issues on arterial roads in Banyule including Rosanna Rd, noting in the absence of any real policies to reduce congestion, there was continuing pressure to build the N/E Link. We also noted that traffic congestion was likely to increase as a result of East West Link, as noted in Age article re leaked (Veitch Lister consultants) traffic volume estimates to the Linking Melbourne Authority.  We noted that unless traffic management measures available to Vic Roads are taken, or much needed public transport projects eg; Doncaster Rail pursued, then this problem will continue to increase.  Potential traffic management measures included: Speed limits (ie 50k per hour) and inside lane restrictions for heavy vehicles, time of day/ night restrictions for same (eg, during morning & evening peak), noise bans on exhaust brakes (eg; at night), increased traffic enforcement by police & Vic Roads, road engineering & design etc (to reduce speed). Mr Carbines noted that some of these items might be worth exploring and would be willing to discuss possible pilot with relevant authorities, should they win government. He noted that this would need to be looked across other heavy vehicle routes in the municipality regarding potential flow on affects. It could be approached on a possible trial basis eg; 12 months or so to determine where traffic was flowing.

Regarding East West Link, we noted that this would have a significant detrimental effect on public parkland in this case Royal Park, similar to parkland in Banyule if N/E Link were to proceed. It was noted that at Royal Park, impacts could include removal of up to 6000 trees. Our concerns included the precedent created for the appropriation of public parkland including at a future date, here with the Banyule Flats, Warringal Park etc, in our municipality. It would also tie up approximately $8 - $16b or more of available capital for the next decade or so, misdirecting scarce funds away from much needed public transport projects including Doncaster Rail, duplication of Hurstbridge line  and new high capacity signalling systems.

A key issue regarding E/W Link was the government's intention to sign contracts for the project prior to the election, denying the electorate a chance to vote on the issue and  Labor's current position of "honouring" the contracts.  We noted legal opinion at a recent conference on the subject indicated that a future Labor government would not be obliged to adhere to contracts entered into in these circumstances without a business case and details not publicly available. Mr Carbines indicated that there were a number of things which could impact on this  matter. These included the current fluid balance of power situation in the Victorian Parliament, whether particular legislation would need to be enacted to proceed with the project and what other options might be available to Labor, regarding signing of any contracts. He advised that various discussions were going on within the Shadow Cabinet and we should await further developments.

Lastly, we noted our concerns that Labor's current policy platform (Project 10,000) did not include any major transport infrastructure initiatives, apart from grade separation at level crossings. There were no significant, badly needed transport projects which the community was crying out for including Doncaster Rail, Rowville Rail, Airport Link etc.  We especially advocated projects  including Doncaster Rail, duplication of the Hurstbridge Line, High Capacity (moving block) Signalling, increased frequency (time table connected) bus services, which as noted were a key element in the success of the Mandura Line (along a freeway alignment) in Perth. This could be a template to a similar line (viz; Doncaster Rail) down the centre of the Eastern Freeway. Our position was that it was only with a wider approach to transport as an integrated whole, taking all modes into account, rail, road, bus, pedestrian and cycling, that we would avoid the present "one project" solves all, approach, with freeways through invaluable parklands and an incomplete public transport system in Melbourne.

Our local member indicated that the Opposition were examining various options regarding public transport and would be making further announcements in the lead up to the election. He noted that the new signalling system we talked about was being considered for the Packenham Line presently and that it could potentially be trialled for other locations such as the Hurstbridge Line. A number of projects were under consideration and that he hoped to be able to further advise on these as we approached the election. He indicated that he believed some of the suggestions we had discussed were worthy of consideration and that it had been a productive and worthwhile meeting. It was agreed, that it would also be of value to meet again over coming months prior to the November election to further discuss some of the issues traversed.

Dennis O'Connell


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