Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tunnel critics shunned by Pike transport forum -

by Clay Lucas

CRITICS of a $9 billion road tunnel plan have been barred from a Government forum this afternoon to discuss transport plans for Melbourne.

The move has led to fresh claims the State Government is attempting to marginalise groups that do not agree with its plans.

Opponents of the proposed 18-kilometre tollway, which would run from Footscray to Clifton Hill, have been told they cannot attend today's forum, being staged by the Education Minister and MP for Melbourne, Bronwyn Pike.

The transport forum, at Ms Pike's North Melbourne electorate office, is one in a series being staged by Government MPs.

Premier John Brumby last week said the forums were proof his Government was listening to the public's views on transport, ahead of a Government transport strategy to be unveiled in November.

Three community groups that oppose the toll-road plan, asked this week to attend Ms Pike's forum, but were denied invitations, although the Royal Park Protection Group was later included after complaining to the Department of Transport.

Brian Walters, SC, who lives in the eastern suburbs, is from the group, Protectors of Public Lands. He was told the forum was "an invitation-only session to local residents' associations".

Mr Walters, a former president of Liberty Victoria, said the Government could not control a guest list and then claim to have consulted the community.

Ascot Vale group the Mount Alexander Road Campaign Committee was also excluded.

Ms Pike said she had invited a cross-section of the community to the forum.

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Read the statement regarding these forums from the Premier's Website here. It appears that this North Melbourne one has been added since the forums were first planned, as are ones scheduled for Friday 29/8 for the Brunswick and Richmond. We would suggest you contact the Department of Transport if your community group has not received an invitation.

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