Moonee Valley Leader: East West Link a hot topic at Moonee Valley Metropolitan Transport Forum. Kylie Adoranti. 29 August 2014
East West Link was on the nose at Moonee Valley’s Metropolitan Transport Forum last night, when a crowd of about 150 pressured state election hopefuls.
Essendon candidates Fred Ackerman (Liberal) and Danny Pearson (Labor) and Western Metropolitan state Greens MP Colleen Hartland confronted transport issues at the Clocktower Centre, where Moonee Valley Mayor and forum chair Jan Chantry set the agenda.
Cr Chantry criticised the State Government for prioritising East West Link over public transport, and used the forum to express disappointment at Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s decision to leapfrog council and rezone Moonee Valley Racing Club.
Mr Ackerman voiced the State Government’s public transport achievements since coming into office and told the audience it inherited a “terrible mess” from Labor.
He said the government had introduced extra train, tram and bus services, leading to improved customer satisfaction and a decrease in fare evasions.
Mr Ackerman said if re-elected the government would build a railway link to the airport and the East West Link project.
Ms Hartland said “lazy government and poor planning policy was taking us backwards”, and that public transport and bike path investment was not matching Moonee Valley’s population growth.
“The Liberal and Labor governments have both left the public transport system to rot,” she said.
Ms Hartland said the Greens were the only party opposing the East West tollway, instead prioritising upgrading train signals, purchasing more locally-built trains and closing tram stop gaps.
Mr Pearson reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to fix level crossings at Buckley St, Essendon, and widen the Tullamarine Freeway to six lanes.
He said Premier Denis Napthine should take the East West Link to the election and let Victorians decide whether they wanted it, but when asked whether Labor would rip up the tollway’s contracts if elected he offered: “I am not conceding the East West Link contract will be signed”.
An audience member asked whether the number 59 tram would be extended to the airport, but Mr Pearson said Labor’s priority was the Melbourne Metro Rail project.
Mr Ackerman said trams could not move a significant number of people, but Ms Hartland said the Greens would look at the issue.
Then she returned to the East West Link. “If the Greens have the balance of power, we will not support any government that wants to build this project,” she said.