Friends of Banyule - Public Meeting 29th May
What the East west Toll Road and Doncaster Rail Mean for
On 29th May, the latest in the continuing series of Friends of
Banyule public events took place at the Old Shire Offices,
Heidelberg with a good turn up of approximately 45 - 50 people. Our
two guest speakers for the meeting were FOB Steering Committee and
Doncaster Rail Advocacy Group member Mary Merkenich and Public
Transport Not Traffic Campaign Manager, Danae Bosler.
The topic for the evening was "What the East West Toll Road and
Doncaster Rail means for Banyule". With the State election coming
up in November, issues around public transport and infrastructure
have now taken on a central focus. This has recently become clear
with an advertising blitz by the government in the press and, the
release of a plethora of rushed policy on transport, the majority
of which if they proceed, would be a decade or more away and will
be impacted by the majority of available funding still directed to
East West Link.
Mary provided a very informative and engaging overview on the
impact of East West Link and its effect on Doncaster Rail, a
project the current government said it supported in the lead up to
the 2010 election. In the intervening period, whilst a study has
been carried out into the feasibility of Doncaster Rail, the
government has done nothing since to advance this important and
necessary project, any further. Doncaster is one of the few areas
in the metropolitan area with no surface rail of any kind, being a
real missing link in our rail network. Mary spoke of the Mandura
rail line in Perth, which runs down the middle of a freeway
(similar to that which the Eastern Freeway was designed to
accommodate) and which, has been very successful in reducing
congestion and fostering a major shift in transport mode, from road
to rail. This has been integrated with more frequent upgraded bus
services to new stations along the route.
She noted, that the government's determination to proceed with the
horrendously expensive East West Toll road, costing $8b for the
eastern section and a similar amount for the western section,
effectively soaks up all available funds for a decade and beyond,
meaning Doncaster Rail will be further delayed and potentially not
proceed at all, if present funding priorities are perused. It was
also noted that in an analysis by senior Age economics commentator
Kenneth Davidson, the total cost of East West Link (both sections)
could total $18 - 20 b, putting it in a similar realm to the
Desalination Plant as a long term burden on the Victorian tax payer
with questionable results as to a business case. Construction of
the East West Toll Road would also inevitably lead to the
subsequent building of the North East Link through our parklands in
Banyule, with similar negative impacts as those in Royal Park with
extensive loss of trees and parkland.
Danae gave a lively and similarly engaging presentation on the
Public Transport not Traffic (PTNT) campaign. PTNT is coordinating
a campaign to promote public transport on behalf of a diverse cross
section of community groups and organisations across Melbourne and
regional Victoria, in the lead up to the State election in
November. The campaign has included a widespread multi media and
public relations strategy, rallies, public meetings door knocking,
community engagement initiatives and communications strategy. The
campaign has been successful in engaging with the community
including in marginal seats across Melbourne. Danae noted that if
people are acquainted with all the issues involved, they are
capable of making more informed decisions based on the facts,
rather than government advertising or the media, which often skews
the argument in favour of the roads lobby.
She provided an update on the progress of the campaign and
latest developments on the East West
Toll Road vs Public Transport issue. it was noted that the case
currently proceeding in the Supreme Court regarding lack of
transparency and business case was continuing, with the Court
directing Linking Melbourne to provide further documentation on the
matter, including projected traffic volumes and details of the
business case. She also advised that the E/W Link CIS Planning
Panel, would deliver its finding this week, meaning that the
Minister for Planning Mathew Guy will be required to make a
statement on behalf of government. If the Panel requests further
information and clarification from Linking Melbourne, this could
potentially delay the signing of contracts. It was noted that the
present policy of Labor to" honour" the contracts which the
government intends signing prior to the election, was being
questioned by various members within the opposition and Shadow
Cabinet. She encouraged all to contact Opposition MPS regarding the
issue and put pressure on our politicians from all sides of
politics on these matters as well as transport policy.
Everyone was encouraged to participate by joining up/donating,
signing petitions and writing to to their local and State member.
The overall message was participate, become involved, take action
at the local level and be part of the solution to help shape what
sort of city we want in the future.
A spirited Q & A session followed with an engaged audience,
and excellent questions from the floor on a range of issues around
the presentations. Given the number of questions, and enthusiasm of
the audience, question time was extended till 9.00 pm. Both the
Mayor Craig Langdon and local ward Councillor Tom Melican attended
and participated in questions and general discussion following.
Overall, a very successful meeting, with positive comments from
those who joined us for tea/
coffee and discussion afterward.
Thanks are extended to both Mary and Danae for their excellent
presentations on the night. Thanks also to all concerned who helped
to make the evening a success including Felipe for the flyer design
and logo, John, for last minute assistance with the flyer, to
Pauline, Mary, Don, Toni and Ian for distribution and letter boxing
and, to Greta, Harris and Monique for social media dissemination.
Importantly also, thanks to Marion for her invaluable
Lastly, thanks to all who attended, including our Mayor and
Councillor Melican for showing support for our public events.
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