The fact that Transport Minister, Terry Mulder, would not rule out the NE link road project when invited to do so publicly is worrying.
In response to a question from Banyule councillor, Tom Melican, at a Metropolitan Transport Forum function on 9 March Mr Mulder said that although the NE link had not received any funding from the federal government’s Infrastructure Australia the new Victorian government would continue to pursue funding.
The North East link project was included in the previous state government’s 2008 Victorian Transport Plan (VTP) without any analysis or public debate. Mr Mulder’s government has otherwise attacked the VTP relentlessly. And with good reason: thoughtlessly developed road projects in the plan, such as the NE link are incredibly expensive and would lead to greater road congestion in Banyule and surrounding municipalities.
The fact that the minister went on to say the government was considering doing the project in stages because full project funding was not available was also a concern. This is consistent with the “salami tactics” adopted for many years by state governments and their road agencies which has resulted in increasing dependency on private motor traffic at the expense of public transport.
However, it was wildly inconsistent with the coalition’s admirable commitments to commence analysis of rail services to Doncaster, Melbourne Airport and Rowville and to halt another VTP-instigated project which would have turned Hoddle Street into a freeway.
Mr Mulder should reassign the money handed to VicRoads by the previous Labor government for engineering design on NE link to instead develop a comprehensive sustainable transport package for Banyule and the surrounding north east municipalities of Melbourne.