Here are two competing images of Melbourne’s transport future just a few hundred metres apart on Alexandra Parade in Collingwood and Fitzroy:
We have the City of Yarra’s billboard which asks people to campaign for Doncaster rail and a few hundred metres west there is the Baillieu government’s drilling rig. Ted Baillieu announced a few weeks ago that the drilling rig is undertaking soil testing for a proposed east-west freeway link between the eastern end of the Eastern Freeway and the Western Ring Road.
Mysterious changes in government priorities
During the 2010 state election campaign Ted Baillieu promised an examination of a rail link between Doncaster and the Melbourne CBD. The study is currently under way at an approximate cost of $6 million. Shortly after taking office the Baillieu government also suspended the Brumby government’s examination of the expansion of Hoddle Street because of the priority it then gave to the Doncaster rail study.
However, more recently the Baillieu government sought federal funding for work for the proposed east-west link. So far this funding has not been forthcoming.
No business case, much less a cost-benefit analysis, has been developed for such a project. In fact a cost-benefit analysis conducted by the previous Labor government showed the link is economically unjustified.
Nevertheless Premier Baillieu is speaking as if it is a certainty, and as you can see he has bunting surrounding his drilling rig to announce the project.
So what is the motive? Is it a bit of wedge politics to set off the ALP’s inner northern suburban constituency against the outer suburbs? Or does the government have merchant banker mates just down the hill in Collins Street working on a privatised road deal just too good to refuse in the lead-up to the 2014 state election? Or is it just Melbourne’s no. 1 roads lobby group, the RACV, and their seedy mates plying their black magic on a government that does not know which way is “up” when it comes to transport policy? We do know the RACV is currently campaigning via its “RedSpot” promotion for both the east-west link and the north-east link across the Yarra and through Banyule.
But didn’t planning minister, and Northern Metropolitan MP, Matthew Guy, tell a Friends of Banyule delegation on 15 July 2011 that the north-east link “is not on the radar.” Yes he did.
Worth keeping an eye on that radar.
Ted Baillieu should reflect on the space inefficiency of large volumes of motor car traffic in urban and suburban Melbourne and the fact that Melbourne continues to work as well as it does only because more and more workers and visitors have been able to travel by public transport and not by motor car. It is at the centre of Melbourne’s much vaunted “liveability.”
Victoria recently had an architect as planning minister. Surprisingly, he did not understand that simple fact. If he did, he kept it a big secret.
Ted Baillieu, our architect Premier needs to absorb and impart this simple fact to those around him.
- Baillieu shifts green wedge boundary (theage.com.au)
- Baillieu says challenges stem from federal turmoil (abc.net.au)