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Melbourne communities maintain fight against Brumby's tunnel and freeway plans

Royal Park Protection Group Inc.

Media release, 24 October 2008

Opposition to proposals in Sir Rod Eddington's Transport Review to construct road tunnels through inner Melbourne and elevated roadways through the western suburbs has been steadily mounting over the past three months. On Sunday next community groups from across Melbourne, who have joined forces as the Coalition of Transport Action Groups (CTAG), will rally at 12 noon under the clocks at Flinders Street Railway Station to demand "sustainable public transport – no new road tunnels or freeways". The anger growing in Collingwood and Clifton Hill plus West Parkville over the possible compulsory acquisition of whole streets of house for tunnel construction has spread to Sunshine and Footscray where it is feared that up to 1,000 houses will be lost if elevated roadways are built. The Royal Park Protection Group has been at the forefront of opposition to the extension of the Eastern Freeway for many years fearing, not just the loss of residential amenity and increased traffic congestion, but the destruction of Royal Park itself with open cut and cover methods of construction. Not only precious open parkland would be lost but these gigantic engineering works would destroy the wetlands, an important source of water for Melbourne, obliterate State sports grounds for 5 to 10 years, impact on the operation of the State Netball and Hockey Centre and badly affect the Melbourne Zoo.

Julianne Bell Convenor of the Royal Park Protection Group commented: "We have obediently attended the so called public consultations - the State Government's Transport Forums, had representatives attend the Premier's Transport Summit and Freight Forum and met with the Minister for Roads. We - together with many inner Melbourne groups - have been vocal in expressing our opposition to the proposed construction of new tunnels and freeways and in expressing our concerns over the failure of the State Government to invest in public transport and rail freight projects. Everyday there is evidence in the news that the public transport system is in a state of collapse. But has the Brumby Government been listening? We think not. Now the PM's Infrastructure Australia Committee will be considering funding these super-size projects. It is hoped that committee members will heed expert opinion which counsels against backing further mega road projects. These include Professor Ross Garneau, Climate Change expert, and Professor Peter Newman of Murdoch University and Infrastructure Australia Committee member, who says that Sir Rod Eddington's proposed $9 billion east-west tunnel should not be built and that it does not provide enough economic benefit to be justified."

The Coalition of Transport Action Groups, including the Royal Park Protection Group, will rally at 12 noon for a 12:15 pm start on Sunday 26 October 2008 under the Clocks at Flinders Street Railway Station, corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets Melbourne. (Note that we are not encouraging people to disrobe as happened at the Pensioners' and Taxi Drivers' Rallies at this location.)

Media contacts: Julianne Bell (Royal Park Protection Group) on 98184114 and 0408022408 & Freda Watkin (Yarra Campaign against the Tunnel) on 0403526342

See also: www.royalparkprotect.org.au, VCAT "Community Forum highlights problems fixes none" of 17 Oct 08.