Friday, July 18, 2008

Minister's seat at risk over road tunnel plan

Bronwyn Pike's email is Email her and let her know what you think, and which way you'll be voting.

STATE cabinet ministers have reported a backlash in their electorates over plans for a $9 billion road tunnel running from Footscray to Clifton Hill.

But in a move that could put Education Minister Bronwyn Pike's political future at risk, she has not opposed the 18-kilometre tunnel - which would run through the heart of her electorate.

"I am not making a firm commitment on any aspect of Sir Rod Eddington's report," Ms Pike said yesterday.

In her submission in response to Sir Rod's $20 billion transport plan for Melbourne, Ms Pike said many in her electorate were telling her "loud and clear that they are very concerned" about the potential impacts of the tunnel.

Ms Pike, who held her seat of Melbourne against the Greens by just 600 votes at the 2006 State election, did not oppose the plan in her submission. But she said she would fight to ensure no parkland or amenity was lost if it was built.

The road would begin in either Altona or Sunshine and continue to CityLink, and Kensington's J. J. Holland Park would be partially consumed by exit and entry "portals" for the tunnel. Out of 2000 submissions, several hundred were from Kensington residents opposing the tunnel.

Greens state MP Greg Barber, whose party is opposed to the building of any road tunnel, said Ms Pike had tried to obscure her position on the subject. "The state seat of Melbourne is ground zero for this disaster," he said. "How does the member for the seat most affected think she can get away with sitting on the fence?"

The Government is working on a major transport plan for Melbourne, which will be released in November.

Asked whether she could remain in cabinet if the road tunnel went ahead, Ms Pike replied: "I think it's too premature to talk about the specific projects that will be there as part of the Government's comprehensive transport plan."

Local Government Minister and Richmond MP Dick Wynne, whose electorate includes Carlton and Clifton Hill, said in his submission that the road tunnel would cause "profound economic, environmental and social disruption".

He supported a road tunnel from the western suburbs to CityLink, but said it was too early to say if a second stage was needed from CityLink to the Eastern Freeway. That stage should only be considered once Sir Rod's other road and rail proposals were complete.

The road tunnel has been backed by three federal ministers - Julia Gillard, Nicola Roxon and Brendan O'Connor - as well as influential MP Bill Shorten. Strong support for it has also come from unions, toll road companies and some western suburbs councils.

Read the original article at

For the record, the Federal Member for Melbourne, Lindsay Tanner, opposes the tunnel, and would prefer money goes to public transport. You may want email him as well.

This is not a federal government issue, but the state government has said that they will be calling upon the federal government for funds, and seeing how Lindsay Tanner is the Minister for Finance, it's worth a quick chat.

No comments: