The following post is a news update to members and supporters by Protectors of Public Land’s Secretary Julianne Bell whose group fought tirelessly against the Brumby government to stop a number of proposed road tunnels and freeways through public parklands.
The hard work finally paid off earlier this month when the Baillieu government annouced that it would drop the much criticsed Victorian Transport Plan. Friends of Banyule Inc is a member of Protectors of Public Lands and also has alliances with the Coalition of Transport Action Groups and Warringal Conservation Society.
Good News – Baillieu Decides to Scrap EastTunnel/Freeway
In the Age 21 January 2011 Roads Minister Terry Mulder is reported as saying: “…the proposed $5 billion WestLink freeway under Footscray had already been turned down for funding by Canberra. And his government had no plan to build the second stage of the road, from the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill to CityLink in Flemington”.
This is a truly historic decision as it ends 11 years of battling the Bracks then the Brumby Governments. This is since the year 2000 when the Royal Park Protection Group Inc. (RPPG) took on the Government.
Under Transport Minister Peter Batchelor we had the Northern Central City Corridor Study announced in November 2000. Dr Paul Mees, our transport guru, was on the Committee. He turned the Study around and proved that an East West Link was not needed. The Study was quietly shelved. In 2001 RPPG had a rally at Collingwood Town Hall with banners with the messages “Hands Off Royal Park”, “Make Public Transport Work – Bypass Batchelor” and Public Transport – No More Freeways”. See www.royalparkprotect.org.au for the Gallery of photos.
It was a regular pattern of events that before an election the Labor Party denied vehemently that the East West Link was on the government’s agenda then afterwards the planning started again.
Then we enter the era of the Sir Rod Eddington Study with the East West Link Needs Assessment carried out in 2007/2008 advocating a tunnel/freeway from the Eastern Freeway to Royal Park with a branch off north west to CityLink and a branch south west to the Port. The incredible community action involving numbers of inner city groups and supporters from all over Melbourne with groups such as RPPG and YCAT – Yarra Coalition Against the Tunnel. Plus we had our coalition – Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc – and the Coalition of Transport Action Groups (CTAG) . 2008 saw “No Stadiums” rallies at Councils (Melbourne, Yarra, Moonee Valley and Brimbank) who were voting on whether they would support road tunnels and 1,600 submissions to the Eddington Review, most against the tunnel. There were also rallies at Debneys Park Flemington May 2008 and at the Etihad Stadium in September 2008. See photos attached of sections of the audiences.
Finally we had the launch of the Victorian Transport Plan in December 2008 at which it was discovered that the East West Link had been effectively deleted from the Plan. A senior bureaucrat who had been in charge of the Eddington Review said this was due to “people power”. A number of paragraphs in the main report, not the executive summary, stated that construction of EW Link will be a future option as it will be regarded as a connecting link with WestLink. The Baillieu Government is said to have rejected the Victorian Transport Plan 2008. It is a great pity that Peninsula Link and the destruction of Westerfield plus Reserves on the Mornington Peninsula which commenced last year is proceeding.
The Future of WestLink is unclear and plans for the North East Link have not been announced. It was reported that the Government had a $40 million federal grant for planning the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel and this would proceed. Minister Mulder was quoted as saying, however, that the project’s $5 billion-plus price tag also made it unlikely to go further.
Congratulations to all who took part in the overthrow of the East West Link and the overthrow of all those who collaborated on this project, which would have seen destruction of 9 inner city suburbs and Royal and Holland Parks. Even so eternal vigilance must be maintained.
It should be added that over the past 11 years that, while denouncing freeways, PPL VIC actively promoted public transport and therefore welcomes the Government’s intention to plan extension of rail lines.
Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. and
Committee Member Royal Park Protection Group Inc.
NB by FOB: No announcements have been made on the North East Link and Friends of Banyule have written to the Public Transport and Roads Minister, Terry Mulder to gain an understanding on the position of the Baillieu government.