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Professor Roz Hansen cans East-West link on democracy, parkland and public transport

Item 6.3, MCC Futures Committee Meeting on 10 December 2013: "Council’s submission should state ‘up front’ that it opposes the East West Link project. This inner urban freeway project will undermine, erode and destroy part of Royal Park being a special place of state and metropolitan significance, as well as a signature feature of Melbourne’s renowned network of large parks and gardens. These much valued public assets are integral to our city’s liveability and distinctiveness. We are not being asked by government if we want this project – we are being told we must have it noting that there isn’t a week that goes by that the evidence against this project grows and grows." Roz Hansen

Below is the rest of Dr Hansen’s submission to Item 6.3 Future Melbourne (Transport) Committee on 10 December 2013 on the East West Link

The Terms of Reference for the CIS hearing process is effectively seeking to gag local government and the people of Melbourne from expressing their opinions on whether or not this is the Number 1 infrastructure project for the next 10 years of capital expenditure. Well the reality is there is not enough money to do both the East West Link and the much needed public transport, cycling and walking network improvements. If we have to make a choice due to funding constraints then it is not the East West Link project.

Permanently scarring our inner urban landscape and especially our parkland with Los Angeles style flyovers, stark concrete viaducts and road canyons sends a clear message to the public that firstly Melbourne’s legacy of parkland is expendable and secondly, road building overrides public transport improvements.

It also sends a clear message to the international community that our government and its team of transport engineers are out of touch with ‘best practice’ transport planning. Metropolitan road transport solutions used in the 1960s and 70s do not make a great 21st century city. The East West link concept and design is adopting old technology - it is not smart, innovative or progressive thinking.

The top two issues that Melburnians raised during the preparation of the new metropolitan planning strategy whilst I chaired the Ministerial Advisory Committee were improvements to public transport and protection and enhancement of public open space.

This is also planning and designing for half a road network in terms of east west road access. It is fraught with problems, as well as showing a short sighted and politically expedient approach which I believe we as a generation will regret for a very long time.

We should be designing, assessing and implementing a truly integrated, highly functional public and private transport metropolitan network, and not just stage 1 of one road project which has limited short term benefits and long term damaging disbenefits.

Finally Council should not be bullied by the East West Assessment Committee’s Terms of Reference as set down by the Government. Council should show leadership as it has on so many other important planning issues – leadership that has been acknowledged nationally and internationally.

Councillors you need to be bold, courageous and forthright in stating in your city’s submission that the East West Link should not proceed. This is not THE project that is going to protect and enhance Melbourne’s liveability and distinctiveness for decades to come.

Professor Roz Hansen

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