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Canberra asked to say, "No," to funding East-West Tunnel/Tollway link in Melbourne

Call for Victorians to write to the Hon. Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport at A.Albanese, to oppose funding of the East West Link and to support funding public transport instead, especially the Doncaster Rail Link along the Eastern Freeway.
The Baillieu Government has resurrected Sir Rod Eddington’s discredited road transport project and the Premier now has it as the centerpiece of his recently announced transport plan. The Victorian State Government has asked the Federal Government to provide funds of $30 million for a “review”. This would be the third review in the last 10 years. Victorian citizens, members of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria, working free on behalf of the public, and representing 16 democratic groups, traveled to Canberra recently to put the case for public transport. Here is their report. [Headings inserted by cdb editor.]

Also published by Yarra Campaign for Action on Transport

Grassroots Delegation to Canberra

Yesterday representatives of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc (PPL) and the Royal Park Protection Group Inc. travelled to Canberra to put the case to the Federal Government NOT to fund the Baillieu Government’s proposed East West Link (EW Link) but to improve public transport. Sixteen community organisations supported our delegation and our message - “Say Yes to Public Transport – Say No to More Freeways/Tollways”.

Raising the dead - an expensive process

The Baillieu Government has resurrected Sir Rod Eddington’s discredited road transport project and the Premier now has it as the centerpiece of his recently announced transport plan. The Victorian State Government has asked the Federal Government to provide funds of $30 million for a “review”. This would be the third review in the last 10 years. This extension of the Eastern Freeway in a tunnel through the inner city suburbs cannot be justified on economic grounds and would impose colossal environmental costs on Melbourne. It would actually generate additional road congestion at a time when we should be encouraging greater use of public transport.

Message delivered personally to Federal Minister Albanese

Julianne Bell, PPL Secretary, who attended the meeting at Parliament House Canberra yesterday with Federal Infrastructure Minister Albanese’s staff on the proposed EW Link commented:

“We were anxious to ensure that Minister Albanese is made aware that the EW Link project is not economically viable. I quoted Kenneth Davidson, a regular contributor on economics to the Age and co-editor of ‘Dissent’, who said in his article of 27 November 2011 entitled ‘Why the east-west road tunnel is a stinker’ that ‘the benefit-cost ratio is 0.5, according to the traditional measure, and 0.7, according to Eddington’. We pointed out that, if constructed according to the Eddington Plan, the EW Link would destroy heritage streetscapes and residential amenity of inner Melbourne suburbs, in addition to causing widespread traffic chaos. Plus it would devastate major parks namely Royal, Holland and Travancore Parks along its route.”

Public transport the only sensible priorty

Ian Hundley a PPL representative and a member of the Hoddle Street Transport Study (now suspended) said:

“I raised the point at the Canberra meeting that we actively support extension of rail services to Doncaster, which is currently being studied by the Baillieu Government. This project would be potentially jeopardised by any decision to fund the EW Link road tunnel. The future viability of Melbourne depends upon getting people out of cars onto public transport. This is what a Doncaster Rail Link would do, as would a rail service to Melbourne airport.”

Public funds are already dedicated

PPL members learned from Minister Albanese’s staff that the Commonwealth infrastructure fund for “Nation Building” has been fully committed for the period up until 2013-14. If the Victorian State Government’s East-West Link is to be funded during this period, “money would have to be found elsewhere”.

It is our view that the Commonwealth Government should only fund projects which provide sustainable transport and protect and preserve the built and natural environment.

We are calling on PPL members and the general public to write to the Hon. Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport at A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au Please send a submission or even a simple message opposing funding of the EW Link and supporting funding of public transport, especially the Doncaster Rail Link along the Eastern Freeway.

Media Contact:
Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. Mobile 0408022408
Source: Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. (PPL VIC), Media release 28 March 2012.

Comments

Rod Eddington pointed out that, far from being a bottomless pit, Australia's initial $8bn funding pool from the Building Australia Fund had been depleted, leaving the authority to analyse projects without the means to finance them. He warned of economic and social fallout as funding dries up for important nation building projects.
Also, a shortage of engineers is hampering Australia’s ability to deliver on infrastructure and nation building needs, leading to millions of dollars in cost overruns and lost opportunities for engineering projects. Lack of funding for tertiary education and the commercialisation of universities as a resource for foreign students is taking its toll on our skills, and finances.
The Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy was founded eight years ago and is now active on every continent.
John Stuart Mill argued that when the limits to quantitative economic growth were reached, the focus of human progress would happily shift to qualitative development in terms of knowledge, creativity, cultural achievement and the quality of human relationships. There are limits to growth, and once our nation is built, governments should concentrate on quality, not quantity. State governments, the federal government and the Coalition, all promote unfettered economic growth.
The goal of a steady state is to sustain a constant, sufficient stock of real wealth and people for a long time. A downward spiral of negative growth, a depression, debt and "shortages" of infrastructure such as we are entering now, is the result of a failed growth economy.
We have many problems, including poverty, unemployment, environmental destruction, budget deficit, trade deficit, bailouts, bankruptcy, foreclosures, unaffordable housing, but apparently only one solution: economic growth - and population growth is the easiest route to grow our economy. It ignores the costs of growth.
Physical expansion of the economic subsystem on finite natural "capital" is already increasing environmental and social costs faster than production benefits, thereby becoming not economic growth but uneconomic growth, making us poorer in living standards and stretches us economically.
Australia as a nation is already built. It needs to be enhanced and protected from imploding from overpopulation, greed, top-heavy infrastructure, growth-pushing economic models and those who are prepared to allow per capita GDP and livestyles decline for overall national GDP.