Empty promises still hold sway as election looms

Monash University bus terminal, the site of a proposed Clayton Railway Station on the Rowville Line.

Monash University bus terminal, the site of a proposed Clayton Railway Station on the Rowville Line.

The Liberal’s East West Link continues to face legal challenges as the Greens unveil a new $60m East West Tram Link but voters are still asking about Doncaster Rail and Melbourne Metro.

Written by Saúl A. Zavarce

The term “East West Link” (EWL) is the latest political buzz word of the 2014 Victorian Election.

The Greens have unveiled their Fill Missing Tram Links policy which outlines 17 new tram extensions including one new “East West Tram Link” to go from North Melbourne to Richmond.

Ellen Sandell, the Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne told the Herald Sun that it was “the real East West link that Melburnians want and need”.

This is amid the two separate legal challenges to the Liberal’s East West Link.

Moreland City Council and Yarra City Council have taken the Napthine government to court, while Brunswick resident Anthony Murphy has mounted a Supreme Court Challenge to seek out the long-form business case for the road.

The lack of a public business case for the EWL prompted a strong response from the crowd of the Metropolitan Transport Forum on August 14th at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Public Transport Users Association member Daniel Bowen asked Minister for Roads and Public Transport, Terry Mulder why he was backing the multi-billion dollar road without a mandate from an election.

Mr Mulder responded citing the success of the government’s implementation of Public Transport Victoria and the 10090 new weekly services since the 2010 election, essentially dodging the question.

When prompted again by another audience member on the issue, Mr Mulder responded that the EWL is noted on Infrastructure Australia as a priority to improve the National Freight Network, that the Government could “not sit back and rely on one crossing of Melbourne”.

Ms Hennesy responded that Infrastructure Australia indentified Melbourne Metro Rail  as Melbourne’s first public transport priority, later chastising the minister as “cowardly” for planning to sign the contracts without an election mandate.

Ms Hennesy while being highly critical of the Liberal’s proposed road stayed on party policy of not committing to abandoning the project if the contracts were to be signed prior to the election.

Ellen Sandell believes that voters are frustrated with Labor on the topic.

“The East West was initially a Labor proposal, and now they’re saying they oppose the toll road but will build it if contracts are signed. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too – and Melburnians see right through this. Labor needs to join the Greens and say they won’t build this disastrous road.” said Ms Sandell.

Nishan Jayasuriya, a swing voter from the swing seat of the Forest Hill electorate currently held by Liberal MP Neil Angus, says that the EWL will not solve Melbourne’s transport problems like investment in public transport will.

“Thing is with public transport and roads, is that the more you invest in PT, the more people use it and thus less people use the roads. And the less people that use the roads the less you need to spend on them to build more,” said Nishan.

“Doncaster rail would suit me better when I’m driving on the Eastern Freeway because a lot of the people who go to the city, who don’t want to drive would catch public transport, which will free up more room on the roads.”

Lachlan Strachan another swing voter from the safe Liberal seat of Rowville does not care for the EWL instead insisting that more public transport is needed to Rowville to reduce congestion on Wellington Road and the Monash Freeway.

“A train line out to Rowville, via the Clayton university would actually be enough to swing my vote,” said Lachlan.

“At the moment I just can’t use public transport because I’d need to drive half an hour in morning traffic just to get to Glen Waverley anyway”.

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About Saúl A. Zavarce

Venezuelan-Australian journalist and international relations academic.

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