You are here

The farce of the 'world's most livable city': Overpopulation and East West Link

The farce of the 'world's most livable city'. Overpopulation drives both sides of parliament to attack each other publicly but privately to support draconian reconstruction of Melbourne, because they have created a situation that makes it inevitable if they don't stop population growth. Nonetheless, this speech by Ms Kanis, the ALP Member for Melbourne, on 4 September 2014, still picks up the Government on the detail of the mammoth assault on democracy and the public purse that is the proposed East West Link. Following on her speech, Liberal Member, Ms Ryall of Mitcham, constructs a half-knitted jumper of motherhood cliches about 'our children's future', before abandoning it to choose attack as the best means of defense, evoking the equally scandalous Desal Plant of the recent Labor Government. The 'world's most livable city' is, of course, a cynical business marketing construction designed to give authority to the forces overseeing the increasingly brutal deconstruction of Victoria's democracy.

Source: Proof Parliament of Victoria Legislative Assembly Daily Hansard, Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Ms KANIS (Melbourne) — The new ABC satire Utopia provides plenty of laughs about poor government planning. [...] Unfortunately, the reality is not terribly funny. The state of Victoria has been writing its own script for an episode of Utopia. It involves an $8 billion road tunnel, more than 100 property owners facing dispossession, hundreds of residents whose homes will be next to a roaring toll road with no compensation and vast swathes of heritage parkland and precious sportsgrounds under threat.

The plot of this episode revolves around a government intent on building the ultimate infrastructure white elephant, against all planning, economic and transport advice. The government spends millions advertising its road, promising that it will reduce congestion, improve public transport, improve pedestrian routes and deliver enormous community benefits. The government then spends millions of dollars defending its project in a 30-day expert committee, and then ignores the majority of recommendations made by planning experts. The government ducks and weaves through FOI cases and is brought before the Supreme Court to defend its unpopular project.

The twist in the plot is that, despite all this, the government refuses to produce evidence of the economic benefits of the project, the east–west link.

The government hides the business case in a box in a courtroom. ‘Trust us’, the government tells the community. I, along with thousands of residents in the electorate of Melbourne, do not trust the coalition government and its secret business case.

This real-life episode of governmental secrecy, spin, misrepresentation and wastage is not at all funny. For hundreds of residents who have been told their homes will be acquired, this episode is heartbreaking.

It should not be the case that residents in my electorate of Melbourne are living with the possibility of a concrete flyover being built within 5 metres of their homes, but this is the scenario facing residents of Bent Street, Kensington. Residents of Parkville and North Melbourne do not know if a tollway exit slated for Flemington Road will emerge on or nearby their properties. Members of the Friends of Royal Park do not know if wetlands, trees and open space will be demolished. Sports clubs have been left without playing fields while the coalition charges ahead with its wasteful east–west link. Nothing about this episode is at all entertaining or beneficial for residents of Carlton, who will have a tunnel dug beneath their homes and ventilation stacks puffing exhaust fumes, for the Friends of Royal Park, for heritage flora and fauna sites, for residents of Manningham Street, for residents of the Flemington housing estate or for properties and residents in Kensington.

A few weeks ago the Premier tried to convince people that travel times on the toll road will defy reality. He argued that people will be able to travel at 75 kilometres per hour through the tunnel during peak hour. This tunnel, which will carry an estimated 100 000 vehicles per day, will connect a congested Eastern Freeway to a congested CityLink, yet somehow cars will be able to zip between those two congested freeways. Maybe that is because it will be so expensive that very few people will choose to use it. The Premier cannot have it both ways. He cannot say the road is needed for thousands of cars and that travel times will be exceptional. That is a plot inconsistency that does not fool anyone.

It is worth noting that traffic projections for the east–west link hardly make the case for its necessity.

The government has predicted that somewhere between 80 000 and 120 000 vehicles will use the east–west link every day. There are over 4 million registered vehicles in Victoria. If 120 000 use the east–west link, that is a total of 3 per cent of Victoria’s vehicles. There are 1.5 million cars in Melbourne, and the government expects only 8 per cent of them to use the east–west link. CityLink carries 800 000 vehicles per day; the east–west link is projected to carry 120 000 at best. This project will use up billions of dollars that could be spent on public transport, schools and hospital beds but will service, at best, only 3 per cent of Victoria’s vehicles.

Who will benefit from this project? Most of the residents of my electorate of Melbourne certainly will not benefit, and at best only 8 per cent of Melburnians and 3 per cent of Victorians will use the road.

I want to make something very clear to the coalition, to the Linking Melbourne Authority and to Melbourne: I do not support the east–west link. The Labor opposition does not support the east–west link. A Labor government will not support the east–west link, because it will do nothing to reduce traffic on our roads; because it will steal money from schools, hospitals and public transport; because it is not warranted by traffic data; because the planning processes have been hasty, chaotic, slapdash and flawed; and because no-one other than the government has seen the secret business case.

The project has been marketed by the coalition as a second river crossing. I am not sure which maps the Premier is consulting, but on my maps there is no river between Parkville and Collingwood, so I am not sure which river stage 1 of the east–west link will cross.

The assessment committee report made public in June highlights dozens of concerns about the project and recommends that part B — a four-lane duplication of CityLink from Flemington to Footscray — be removed.

The Minister for Planning ignored this advice and requested a development plan for this section. We are now just weeks away from the advertised starting date for the construction of the project, and the Linking Melbourne Authority has said it has not even started drafting a plan for part B.

Labor MPs, community members and councils have worked tirelessly to challenge the completely substandard planning that is propping up the coalition’s east–west link. The coalition has been challenged by two FOI cases, two court cases, a Senate motion and thousands of community members taking action. Even the Productivity Commission has spoken out against infrastructure projects that are not subjected to rigorous public scrutiny. The commission wrote this year Properly conducted cost-benefit studies of large projects, and their disclosure to the public, is an important starting point for guiding project selection and improving the transparency of decision-making.

Further, the commission said that processes should be immediately reformed for planning and selecting public infrastructure projects, including rigorous and transparent use of cost-benefit analyses, evaluations, public consultation and public reporting of the decision, so as to maximise the net benefits for the whole community.

A transparent cost-benefit analysis and genuine consultation are missing from this project. In opposition, the now planning minister said he respected consultation. He said When we had public consultation, people meant it. I remember being an adviser in the Premier’s office — in the Kennett years, when — we actually did take things into account, particularly from industry groups and from councils, and those submissions meant something. Nowadays, it’s just done as part and parcel of spin.

Yes, nowadays it is just part and parcel of spin. The planning minister wrote recently … we have reformed our planning system to give real certainty to investors, councils and residents so that our suburbs are protected once and for all … That is not so when it comes to the east–west link.

There has been no protection for wetlands, trees, parkland, homes, Vision Australia, Urban Camp, the Flemington Community Centre, the Debneys Park playground, Manningham Street residents, Clifton Hill residents and Bendigo Street residents. None of these have been protected.

Members of the audience for this episode of real-life infrastructure planning are not laughing. This episode of Victoria’s Utopia needs a satisfying ending. The east–west link should not be built. A Labor government will not allow such cavalier disregard for people’s homes, parkland, community facilities, sports grounds, planning law, heritage and taxpayers money. Along with the thousands of community members who have fought this economic flop and planning and transport fiasco, we will continue to fight the coalition’s east–west link. We demand that this project be taken to the election so that Victorians can vote on it. Let us see what people actually think about it.

Liberal Party member, Ms Ryall (Mitcham) responds:

Ms Ryall trots out cliches about 'our children's future' whilst ignoring the herd of elephants in the room that the Liberal Party is unleashing to trample every child's future into the dust and despair of an overpopulated city in a petroleum depleted world.

Ms RYALL (Mitcham) — From the outset it is important to establish what the east–west link is about.

The east–west link is about the future. It is not just about us sitting here today. It is about our children and our children’s children and making sure that they have a city that works. It is not just about the political expediency that we have seen from those opposite.

There are significant benefits to the east–west link. As many members know, I live adjacent to the Eastern Freeway. I am very familiar with the amount of traffic that uses that freeway.

When I look back, I see that it was Labor that in 2008 commissioned the Rod Eddington report which recommended the building of the east–west link. It was Labor that trumpeted the east–west link. It made sure everybody knew about it. It was on the lips of every Labor member. In fact on 15 August 2008 former Premier John Brumby said I think what is undeniable, in Rod Eddington’s report, is that the city does need a second east-west crossing … So, one way or another we’ve got to address this issue of a second east-west crossing … The member for Lyndhurst said in 2008, and I quote from Hansard … the Greens have told motorists in the middle and outer west to ‘stick it’ — no new river crossings and no new roads for them. Car drivers in the west are to be punished, sacrificed on the altar of green ideology.
Who is telling who to ‘stick it’ now?

The Leader of the Opposition in a speech to the Melbourne Press Club in October 2012 said A back-up for the West Gate, which currently handles more than 165 000 vehicles a day as well as the significant commercial and residential growth in the west, makes the case compelling.

The member for Tarneit in his former role as roads minister said WestLink is an important project for Melbourne that will reduce over-reliance on the West Gate Bridge, cater for the planned expansion of the port of Melbourne, remove cars and trucks from local roads, create more jobs and improve our way of life.

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten supported the east–west link. Bill Shorten and Cesar Melham stated in a document entitled Submission to Study by Sir Rod Eddington East–West Link Needs in 2009 The Australian Workers Union (AWU) believes that the new east–west link is crucial to jobs and economic growth. A new transport link from Melbourne’s booming west to the south east and eastern suburbs has the AWU’s strong support because the Victorian economy relies on the efficient movement of freight and people.

You have got to ask: what has changed? What has changed in that time that would suddenly make those opposite change their minds from saying, ‘This is what we need. There is a compelling case. The unions say it and the federal opposition leader says it’. What has changed? Nothing has changed apart from there being a few inner city seats at risk for those opposite Richmond, Northcote, Brunswick and Melbourne.

Labor has no choice but to oppose the east–west link because of those inner-city seats. There is no choice.

There is nothing scientific about this change. There is no sense to it other than political advantage.

This was a report commissioned by Labor when it was in government, trumpeting a second east–west river crossing and detailing all the reasons why it was important. Now members opposite want our kids and our grandkids and future generations to be relegated to Bangkok-style traffic congestion. That is what they want for our future generations. Do they think for a moment that our kids are going to thank us for it? Will they say thank you for the massive congestion on our roads? In my community this is about building for future generations. In my electorate we only need to look at the level crossing removals — the Mitcham and Rooks Road level crossings are gone, and every week I have people coming up to me saying thank you for removing that level crossing. The removal of the Blackburn Road level crossing is funded. The preliminary work on the level crossings at Bayswater Road and Scoresby Road in Bayswater has been commenced. The new Mitcham station has been completed. The tender for work on the Ringwood station and bus interchange has been let.

It has taken this government to deal with the road congestion in the Mitcham and Ringwood areas. It has taken this government to relieve and reduce that road congestion. Now people are saying, ‘Get on with the east–west link. Deal with it’. Week after week when I am out the community people are telling me to get it done. Tradies, businesspeople, workers and families are all saying, ‘Get it done’. They also want to see work being done for the Melbourne rail link, which will move an additional 35 000 people per peak hour. They are saying, ‘Get that done’. They are also asking, ‘Is the airport link going to happen? We have wanted it for so long’. They are saying, ‘We are so grateful that you are the only government that has committed to it. You are the only government that is putting our money where your mouth is’. Other infrastructure includes Box Hill Hospital.

Mr Angus — Hear, hear!

Ms RYALL — I agree. It is very much a ‘Hear, hear!’ for our community. The Box Hill Hospital is an incredible new facility with more than 200 additional new beds. There is the expansion of the Maroondah Hospital. There is the rebuilding of Blackburn Primary School, Mount Pleasant Road Primary School and Eastwood Primary School, as well as upgrades to Mullauna Secondary College, Ringwood Secondary College, Ringwood North Primary School and Ringwood Heights Primary School. This is what this government is doing to build for the future of our children and our children’s children. It is not just for now. It is about the future.

My father loved Slim Dusty. Slim Dusty sang a song called Looking Forward, Looking Back. On this side of the house is a government that looks forward to what needs to be done, not just now but in the future. Those opposite are looking back in the rear-vision mirror. It seems they were looking forward back in 2008 and 2009 when the Eddington report came out, but now they are looking back and saying, ‘No, we won’t do it’.

This government looks forward. It is planning for the future, building for growth and making a city and state that works. That is where we sit. If we followed Labor’s agenda, this state would be full of white elephants — just to complement their existing white elephants.

Mr Angus — Desal!

Ms RYALL — The desal plant! The member for Forest Hill talks about the desal plant, which is costing $1.8 million a day. Do members think that Victorians would rather spend their $1.8 million a day on their water bills or on hospitals, schools, rail and roads? Over the course of one week $1.8 million a day is sufficient to build an entire primary school, and on top of that it is providing no jobs. With our east–west link, our Melbourne rail link, our airport link, our Tullamarine Freeway widening and the Pakenham-Cranbourne train line upgrade we are talking tens of thousands of jobs.

It is not just about now, it is about the future and about job creation. We have to put all the factors in, based on very sound economic management — thanks to the Treasurer of this state — to make sure we have the funds to create jobs and build the infrastructure of the future. That is what the east–west link is about; it is part of an overall plan that is funded to make sure we have a state that works, to make sure that our kids and their kids can look back and say, ‘Thank you’, like we look back at Henry Bolte and say, ‘Thank you for the vision you had. Thank you for setting apart that land around the port of Hastings. Thank you for having the vision that we would have another port there’. People look back on coalition governments and say, ‘Thank you for the Bolte Bridge, thank you for the West Gate Bridge, thank you for CityLink’.

I think the member for Melton talked before about the amount of traffic on CityLink. We can only imagine that traffic being stuck there without CityLink. We have a mountain of people who need to get from A to B, and we have got Ringwood Secondary College that absolutely needs infrastructure.



Australians pay close to the highest electricity prices in the world, and we’re about to start paying some of the world’s highest gas prices, too. That’s because we’re about to start exporting gas for the first time from the east coast, and there’s no limit to the amount of gas that can be sent overseas.

Victorians' gas bills will skyrocket by hundreds of dollars over the next few years and low-income earners will be the worst affected. Despite some very chilly winters, Melbournians will pay a premium rate for gas, produced in Australia!

The average Victorian household gas bill will increase by $300 per year, a rise of 24 per cent by 2015. Since 2008 gas prices in Victoria have increased by 66 per cent, and electricity prices have soared too - despite our large resources of brown coal!

Victorian gas wholesalers are able to sell gas to international markets for the first time through export facilities in Queensland, upping local prices. That means international gas mining companies can set their own prices, and sell us our gas resources, at the prices they want!

Victorians are the biggest residential users of gas in the country, and use twice as much gas as any other state or territory (with the exception of the ACT). Average annual Victorian gas bills are around $1200, of which 70 per cent comes from heating. (The Australian, 4 Sept) Since Victoria privatised power in the 1990s, electricity prices have outpaced the rate of inflation, rising by 170 per cent compared with an increase of 60 per cent in the consumer price index according to a study by the Australian Institute.

Our gas prices are not disconnected from the high prices willing to be paid in Asia, thus Australians are being rorted into buying back what is rightfully our natural resource. Deloitte Access Economics says skyrocketing gas prices will damage the Australian manufacturing sector to the tune of $118 billion over the next seven years, and lead to a loss of more than 14,000 jobs.

Governments give higher priority to corporate profits and international trade deals than giving the voting public the justice and services they need.

Help Paint the Mega Mural Against the East West Link in Collingwood Saturday 20 September all day

You are invited to make a lasting impression of your opposition to the East West Link by joining in a mural creation on the back fences of homes and apartment blocks at ground zero (West side of Hoddle St and back of Bendigo Street, Collingwood) from 9am this Saturday 20 September. (If driving travel north up Hoddle Street then slow down before the bridge over the Eastern Freeway and turn sharp left round the corner into Bendigo Street.) It's an all day event so come when you can. See attached instructions.

Mike Petit of the MCAT who contributed this notice says "veterans of the Children's March for the Animals are encouraged to put on your (zoo animal) costume or head dress as this event will most likely attract media attention and, besides, it's fun to do so."

After painting, tour Bendigo Street round the corner to view the line of terrace houses set to be demolished by the Napthine Government for the EW Link. And remember they do not have to be demolished even if the EW Link is built. It is only because of the whim of Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning, who decided he wants an architectural statement, a gateway to the City of Melbourne akin to the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge at the entry to the EW Link tunnel. The Victorian Planning Panel review recommended against it as did most of the 1400 submitters to the review hearing.

Bring a vessel for paint, brush, rags, wear sunscreen, appropriate clothes.
Donations of paint are also requested. Ring 0419940838
More details 0408022408