Elevated rail proposal (24.02.2016)

Written on the 25 February 2016

24 February 2016


Elevated rail proposal 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I am very pleased to be able to rise this afternoon and speak to Mr Davis's motion. I will not go through all the elements of what Mr Davis has proposed in his motion and he spoke very thoroughly to it earlier today but this does go to the heart, I think, of how this government operates.

In relation to the motion, it is asking about the issues around sky rail, about how the Andrews government announced it, how it really brought that announcement on and gave the community no warning of what it was intending to do. It is certainly at odds with what the community was understanding in relation to the removal of the level crossings within the Carnegie and Murrumbeena areas. Of course the other parts of the motion call on the government to listen to the community; to complete a full environment effects statement; to ensure that key planning powers remain with local councils given the impact of these proposals on adjacent public and private land and the need to integrate other local planning objectives; and to pursue an alternative model consistent with its election promise which sees rail put under road.

It is a very worthy motion, because this issue has caused an enormous amount of community concern. We have seen that in recent weeks. If you recall, Acting President, this issue really came about only a few weeks ago. Nobody had even heard of sky rail prior to Christmas, and all of a sudden we have, at the 11th hour, people knocking on

Ms Lovell Like the northsouth pipeline.

Ms CROZIER Well, it is another project - as Ms Lovell interjects and reminds us - like the northsouth pipeline, but the other projects that Labor is well known for in terms of its previous time of administration include myki and the desalination plant. I believe that cabling to the desal plant is extremely problematic, and while we are wasting $1.8 million a day on the desal plant, which has been never been turned, it goes to the legacy of how Labor manages projects. In fact it just cannot manage projects; that is the point. This project, the removal of level crossings and indeed it was a government commitment to remove 50 level crossings, but of course you had to read the fine print to know that that was over two terms and not one . . .

An honourable member interjected.

Ms CROZIER In any case

Mr Ramsay interjected.

Ms CROZIER They have, Mr Ramsay. The two level crossings that have been removed by this government have included Burke Road and North Road, which were funded by the previous coalition government, and of course there are the Bentleigh level crossings at Centre Road and McKinnon Road. But I just note that those two level crossings certainly were not on the RACV priority list. In fact they were well down the RACV priority list. Nevertheless the government is going ahead with removing level crossings, and we certainly support a project for the removal of level crossings, but not one that is ill-managed and that has no support, as in relation to this particular proposal that has been put to the community.

I note that the previous coalition government made significant commitments in relation relieving a lot of the public transport woes, including upgrading the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines. In actual fact I obviously knew about that project because it did take in the electorate of Oakleigh. Level crossing removals at Murrumbeena were something that I was closely involved in.

When researching this issue I went back to look at what I had actually said about it. I note a press release of early 2014, where the coalition spoke about giving the community a say. In fact the media release headed 'Community to have its say on Murrumbeena Road level crossing removal' says:

The current phase of the project includes major planning, environmental studies, engineering investigations and stakeholder consultation.

'VicRoads is working closely with the City of Glen Eira and key stakeholders to develop design options for the level crossing removal at Murrumbeena Road, following the awarding of the planning contract in December 2013'

These are my quotes from this media release, I might add. I go on to say:

We want to hear the views and experiences of the local community.

I urge local community members to participate in the online survey which will ultimately help to develop a program that best respond to community needs.

I then said that this survey will provide:

a great opportunity for the people who live, work and use the Murrumbeena Road level crossing and its immediate surrounds, to assist in the planning phase

The media release then says:

After this development stage is completed, a business case incorporating all planning and investigation work will be submitted to the Victorian government for funding consideration.

Now, the reason I raise that media release and the words that I quoted in it is that that is what the coalition government did. It wanted the community to be involved. Yet this is in stark contrast to what we have seen with this government. It has been an absolute debacle of management in every sense of the word. You cannot go to a community promising one thing, and then coming in at the 11th hour, knocking on their doors on a Saturday night, before an announcement on the Sunday telling them that they are going to have an enormous physical structure running behind their houses or within very close vicinity of their homes. This is just an extraordinary display of management, project management or project consultation. I am speechless in terms of trying to understand how on earth the government thought that it could go in and literally bludgeon this community with this idea and this decision without giving those people a thorough understanding.

I listened to Mr Dalidakis's contribution. In fact he was not even speaking to this motion; he was actually speaking to the previous documents motion. It just shows how little regard he has for this entire issue, which has caused so much community concern, as I said at the outset.

Mrs Peulich interjected.

Ms CROZIER It was an extraordinary contribution from a minister of the Crown, to stand there and actually denigrate some public members of the community. One that he named

Mrs Peulich Disgraceful.

Ms CROZIER It was disgraceful. One that he named was somebody that I have been speaking to about this project. She said to me, 'At least your side came and spoke to us', and that is true.

Ms Shing interjected.

Ms CROZIER And that is true. The former minister came down to Murrumbeena, and we had an open community forum in Carnegie. We had the minister speak to the community about the concerns. We had plans, we had lots of input from the department and from the minister himself to alleviate any of those concerns.

This woman, quite rightly, is absolutely horrified about what she has been subjected to. I think it was appalling that a minister of the Crown could denigrate a public member like he did. I think it is very disappointing that Mr Dalidakis, who is not in the house, actually conducted his contribution on this very important issue in the way he did.

I would like to raise some more concerns that have been raised with me by members of the public. I do so again because I think it demonstrates the stark contrast to the way in which the coalition conducted its consultation process. I just want to quote from something that I received from a member of the public, who has a long understanding of how public projects should work.

He actually highlighted to me in his email, which I think also went to the Premier, his concerns about the consultation project:

The restrictions on those who were invited to participate in the focus groups is outrageous. When a developer submits an application to council they must present detailed plans, associated reports et cetera and advise all of those immediately neighbouring/adjacent or within a certain radius of the development. The focus groups for this major project excluded any resident or trader within 100 metres of either side of the railway line, surely the most interested parties in any such development. It is this sort of process that the community was questioning and not getting clear answers, as well as the obvious question as to the change in direction towards a plan that had never been put through public consultation.

That is the point of this motion. That is what I and others are so incensed about that the government can just thrust this decision upon this community, and quite frankly we do not know which other communities it will do the same thing to. The government has not ruled out building a sky rail along the Frankston line.

These large structures will run through our urban areas. They are structures not within a dense city environment but in our urban areas, and it is quite different to have an enormous structure like this protruding out of an urban environment. I think it is a disgrace, as I said, that the government did not take the time to consider the committee's concerns and that it conducted its consultation process or what those opposite call a consultation process in the way it did. These are Victorians who deserve to have every respect given to them in relation to such a major project.

This government has got some hide, I would say. All those opposite do is announce major projects. There is no funding behind them. At least there is a half-baked business case for this sky rail project, but we have got the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel project, which is an asset worth billions of dollars, that the government wants to build with no business case. The metro rail business plan was released yesterday. Where is the funding coming from? Those opposite expect everybody else to pay without doing the heavy lifting themselves. There is a history of project after project, a litany of projects, publicly announced just so they can spin themselves out of being seen as the disastrous government administration that they are. Their own party members are questioning why on earth

Ms Shing interjected.

Ms CROZIER Ms Shing, your own members are tearing themselves apart. You have got to read the reports. Every day there is a new report about the disunity within your own party. You two might be fine, but I know that there are a few of you who are not and who are continually leaking cabinet information. We have seen reports in the newspapers that say that this decision did not even go to cabinet. It is an extraordinary process. Those opposite bypass due process and expect Victorians to just take it. They expect this community to take this decision

Ms Shing interjected.

Ms CROZIER You might laugh, Ms Shing, but it is no laughing matter for those community members. Let me tell you: they are seriously concerned about what it will mean to their local amenity and what it will mean to the price of their houses. They have invested in this area. These are large structures that will run through urban areas. To say that there will be public space and lovely green lands

Ms Shing interjected.

Ms CROZIER Well, if you go to Warrigal Road in Oakleigh, you will see an overpass there and you will see how grotty if I can use that expression it is. In fact I spent a bit of time at a pre-poll booth out there during the last election, and it was very noisy and very dirty. And as Ms Fitzherbert reminded us this morning, that car park needs fixing. I hope the government honours that issue too.

To get back to this issue, this is a very serious one that the community members of Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and right across the south-eastern suburbs have rightly got concerns about. I think it is an absolute disgrace the way the government has handled this whole process. It demonstrates dysfunction. It demonstrates that the government has no clue about how to manage major projects. We have got a litany of major project disasters under the former government. Those opposite have been in power for 12 of the last 16 years, and there are a lot of projects that they bungled. There is a lot of money that they have blown, and they will continue to do so.

Mrs Peulich It's not their money.

Ms CROZIER It is not their money; it is taxpayers money, but they do not care. This community cares, and let me tell you, I support all of their efforts to question the government on why it has taken this stance and why it is using this process. I commend Mr Davis's motion to the house. I commend him for bringing it forward, because it highlights the absolute dysfunction of the government and the debacle of the government's process on a very important matter.


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