Belinda Coates wants mayor to lobby to denounce East-West tollway

The Courier: Belinda Coates wants mayor to lobby to denounce East-West tollway By Rachel Afflick. May 26, 2014

Belinda Coates will call on mayor Joshua Morris to denounce the Coalition’s East-West tollway on behalf of the City of Ballarat.

Cr Coates claims rural and regional communities are getting a raw deal and that public transport, cycling and walking projects should be prioritised before the East-West link.

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has requested the personal support of Cr Morris and a financial contribution from the council, to publish an open letter to Premier Denis Napthine seeking the redirection of the funds.

Cr Coates has filed a notice of motion ahead of Wednesday’s council meeting to advocate for the initiative.

She said spending billions on the East-West tollway had dubious benefits for the Ballarat region.

“That’s money that takes away from regional infrastructure projects,” she said.

“As pointed out in the letter, walking and cycling infrastructure, as well as public transport, are a priority in Ballarat.”

The PTUA letter describes the cost of the East-West tollway – at $1300 to $1800 million a kilometre for the first stage, as “staggering” and claims it would come at the expense of major public transport upgrades and extensions, cycling and walking infrastructure, level crossing removal and some arterial road maintenance.

In Ballarat, priorities such as more frequent and reliable train services, bus upgrades, unfunded bicycle projects and arterial roads maintenance would be unlikely to get adequate funding, PTUA stated.

Cr Coates said she believed councils had a role in lobbying governments and could effect change.

She said proposed federal government changes to the Racial Discrimination Act had come under pressure by the number of councils opposing them.

“With Ballarat in a marginal seat in a state election, it is possible to argue that we’re in a position to have some influence on that,” she said.

“It’s common knowledge that our public transport could do with some additional funding.”

Cr Coates said improvements to public transport infrastructure were more efficient environmentally, and also economically.

Editorial, page 15

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