Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Transport Forum, Footscray, 12th August 2008

The Minister of Transport, Lynn Kosky is holding a number of transport forums across Melbourne, Taralgon, Geelong etc. Attendance was by invitation only- very unclear how this process was decided, but if anyone is interested in going to the other forums, you can do so by notifying the Department of Transport. A number of friends of savehollandpark.org.au were lucky enought to be invited to the forum in Footscray this morning. This is one person's account of the morning. We're expecting to be able to post several more.

At the start of the forum, we were advised that the scope was much broader than the Eddington Report- indeed they did such a good job on making sure the conversation was not about the Eddington Report, it was rarely mentioned. As someone noted- no-one talked about the elephant (white) in the corner. The tunnel (white elephant 1) and "Myki" (white elephant 2) were notable by their absence in a Melbourne Transport Forum

There was a number of MP's there- Don Nardella (pro roads, tunnels, freeways, more cars, roads, tunnels, freeways etc) and Carlo Carli (anti-tunnel). As I listened to the various contributors, it dawned on me freeways and tunnels are "macho" and popular with older men. Carli (SNAG) summed up the forum as "a complete waste of time".

Which it was. If the State Government are as far behind with transport and planning issues as this forum suggests they are, Victorians should be concerned. They talked about integrated transport options like it was some new revolutionary concept. We didn't become a City of 3.5 million people without some transport integration policies. As it didn't get mentioned much before- I will mention it again- isn't Myki an integrated ticketing system?

The Government is trying to convince us the sudden rise in public transport patronage was not something they could have foreseen. The implications of this assertion are damning and provide little reassurance in their ability to deal with serious transport issues and planning at the most fundamental level.

The movement of freight is identified as a big issue with a four-fold increase in the amount of movements around the docks in the next few years. Dredging the Bay allows larger cargo ships to deliver more containers. The Government promoted dredging the bay as 'progress' without considering the impact on transport infrastructure. One policy creates the problem. They now need to develop another to fix it.

It is similar to their ability to approve massive subdivisions on the fringes of Melbourne with no thought of transport considerations. How could they be expected to know people need to travel from where they live to where they work? ( They do not have a crystal ball).

The most illuminating part of the morning was an informal discussion with Minister Kosky. It appears alternatives to using Holland Park are under consideration. They are convinced of the need for the tunnel saying Eddington report shows there is a huge demand particularly for the movement of freight. We queried her figures and said the Eddington Report did not clearly demonstrate the need for a tunnel. Also, freight from the docks did not generally go in an easterly direction. Her "quirky" example to prove us wrong - delivery trucks from the docks to Malvern(?)

So overall, not much to report as not much was said. The strongest impression was that the Government do not have the slightest idea of where to go with this stuff (and do not know how to get from the Docks to Malvern). They are making it up as they go along and flapping around like ducks on water.

The Premier is hosting another forum in September for traffic and planning experts to attend. If today's forum is an example of what we can expect, the words 'considered', 'focussed' and 'visionary' do not come to mind. More accurate words are 'ad hoc', 'muddled' and 'directionless'. Despite widespread confusion and the complete absence of any meaningful policies- the road tunnel is very much still on the agenda. The Government keep saying "they are not ruling anything in and they are not ruling anything out" (borrowed from "the Hollowmen"). The problem is- in private discussions with State Government Ministers, they do keep ruling the tunnel "in".

One wonders if this was a serious attempt to shape a very confused transport policy, or another community consultation box they can tick for whenever they announce decision to build the tunnel.

Robert Gilfillan

1 comment:

ChrisS said...

Wow. Three of us from YCAT trooped over to the Sunshine meeting last evening, where a couple of hundred people that you don't normally see at public meetings, were extremely vocal in showing their dislike of the Eddington report and further road building over much needed public transport.

With somewhere between 500 to 1000 homes on the chopping block, who could blame them?

Back to the Sunshine meeting, only two people out of a couple of hundred knew about Koskys talkfest earlier in the day.

So much for non-consultation for people in the Sunshine area who are understandably scared about the implications of the EWLNA proposal.

Bordering on contempt of local communities, isn't it?