Whittlesea Metropolitan Forum hosts Yan Yean state election candidates

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Whittlesea Leader: Whittlesea Metropolitan Forum hosts Yan Yean state election candidates. Katrina Hinschen. 29 September 2014

Yan Yean state election candidates answer questions at the transport forum. Picture: Valeriu Campan

Residents walked away from yesterday’s Whittlesea Metropolitan Transport Forum still questioning what Yan Yean state election candidates are going to deliver.

Yan Yean state Labor MP Danielle Green, Liberal candidate Sam Ozturk and Greens candidate Daniel Sacchero were grilled on how they will tackle transport issues.

It was no surprise the first two questions were driven by the Access Denied campaign.

The first question, as voted by residents, asked when the O’Herns Rd/Hume Freeway interchange would be built.

Ms Green said she had been following the issue since last year’s grassfires in Epping.

“If we have more fires, more people’s lives will be in danger,’’ Ms Green said.

“Labor (has announced) a $1 million outer suburbia road fund.”

Yan Yean state Liberal candidate Sam Ozturk. Picture: Valeriu Campan

Mr Sacchero said while the Greens wouldn’t commit to providing money for road projects, they agreed councils in growing areas were not getting their fair share of funding.

Mr Ozturk said he didn’t have any announcements to make.

“We are currently looking at transport options as a whole for this area,’’ Mr Ozturk said.

The spotlight didn’t shift from Mr Ozturk as he was asked to tell residents when his party would make an announcement on a rail extension to Mernda.

“You can expect announcements for our policy on transport issues to be presented before the election,’’ he said.

South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance spokesman Darren Peters. Picture: Valeriu Campan

Buses were another hot topic, with residents asking if cancelled services would be reinstated.

“We agree services need to be more frequent, start earlier and finish later,’’ Mr Sacchero said.

Ms Green labelled the Liberal’s bus restructure a “destruction”.

“We will undertake a bus review and prioritise those areas that do need new services, and services returned,’’ she said.

Mr Ozturk again said his party was looking at transport options for the whole area.

“That does include buses,’’ he said.

Yan Yean state Labor MP Danielle Green. Picture: Valeriu Campan

Friends of South Morang spokesman Trevor Carroll said there was not enough public transport, and whatever was already in place was not integrated.

“The buses still do not connect on time with the trains at South Morang railway station,’’ he said.

“There is no connection between Bundoora RMIT university and the South Morang rail station.”

Forum chairman Bob Seiffert said the integrated transport system question had been asked for the past two decades.

“Let’s see if you can solve it,’’ he said.

Ms Green said integration would only occur with more bus services, Mr Sacchero said the Green’s focus was on public transport and Mr Ozturk said his party was reviewing the transport policy.

Aurora Community Association spokeswoman Cara Horner asked candidates what they would do to alleviate the problem of mismatched funding versus need.

Mr Sacchero said the biggest problem was that money was tied up with the East West Link.

“If that tunnel get’s built there won’t be any money,’’ Mr Sacherro said.

“We need to stop the tunnel so we can invest in the north.”

Yan Yean state Greens candidate Daniel Sacchero answers a question. Picture: Valeriu Camp

Mr Ozturk said the East West Link was “a critical link to reduce the reliance to the M1”.

Ms Green said the fairer funding campaign was music to her ears.

“I think that Labor actually gets the northern suburbs,’’ she said.

Whittlesea Mayor Mary Lalios thanked candidates for their time and said she hoped residents received enough information to cast their vote.

Residents show their support for the Access Denied campaign at the forum. Picture: Valeriu Campan

Forum Q & As

What is your stance on the tram 86 extension?

Ms Green (ALP): “This project is in another electorate, I’ve got to prioritise my electorate first.”

Mr Ozturk (LIB): “On the issue broadly, we’ve introduced 10,000 more services per week, buses, trams and rail in Victoria.”

Mr Sacchero (GRN): “The Greens do support the extension of the tram.”

Is there an investment envelope for public transport in the next financial year and if so, how will you prioritise which projects go first?

Ms Green (ALP): “We will build the Mernda rail extension next year.”

Mr Ozturk (LIB): “We’ll be making an announcements closer to the election.”

Mr Sacchero (GRN): “I will only support the government with the Mernda rail extension.”

How are you are going to protect the autonomy of local government and support them?

Ms Green (ALP): “We will set up an outer suburban fund so council will have access to more grants.”

Mr Ozturk (LIB): “We won’t be producing Labor’s rate cap policy.”

Mr Sacchero (GRN): “We do agree with the Auditor General that fast growing communities are not getting a fair share of funding.”

Yan Yean state election candidates Sam Ozturk (Liberal), Danielle Green (Labor) and Daniel Sacchero (Greens). Picture: Valeriu Campan

What will you do to elevate traffic congestion when Melbourne’s wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market relocates to Epping?

Ms Green (ALP): “A lot of trucks will be off the Western Ring Road now, but it does need work.”

Mr Ozturk (LIB): “I recognise that issue needs to be addressed.”

Mr Sacchero (GRN): “The area is out of the seat of Yan Yean so I’d rather not answer the question.”

Why hasn’t there been a proper plan for this area? We’re always catching up, why can’t we be ahead?

Ms Green (ALP): “I think the planning has been good; it’s been a failure to fund.”

Mr Ozturk (LIB): “They criticise us for wanting to build a station at the Docklands because no one lives there, but that’s precisely why we want to avoid problems like this.”

Mr Sacchero (GRN): “Both parties have actually not invested in the area.”

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