The Age: Heat on Napthine government to deliver Metro rail link. February 25, 2014. Aisha Dow
Melbourne City Council is turning up the heat on the Napthine government to deliver the proposed Metro rail link, as councillors bristle over plans to reroute the tunnel around the CBD.
On Tuesday night the council voted to help find a way to fund the planned $9-11 billion project, even if it meant asking the community and businesses to chip in some cash.
Recent statements by Premier Denis Napthine have angered councillors, including the Premier’s claims the need to close Swanston Street for two years to build the tunnel would divide Melbourne ”worse than the Berlin Wall”.
The comments have been widely interpreted as the government distancing itself from the project. It has been since been revealed the government is considering aligning the tunnel through Fishermans Bend, bypassing the CBD.
On Tuesday, Melbourne Cr Arron Wood said he was “deeply concerned” about the premier’s Berlin Wall comment.
“As a councillor, as a Melbourne business owner and as a resident of our great city I feel anger about this great project suddenly coming under a cloud,” Cr Wood said.
“The Metro One rail project is the City of Melbourne’s number one transport priority, it remains a priority ready-to-go project for Infrastructure Australia and up until one week ago the Victorian government’s own submission flagged a start date of January 2015.
“This new hybrid freight project for Fishermans Bend now being pushed by the Premier has completely confused the situation.”
The city council will investigate alternative funding methods for their key public transport project, including a “beneficiary pays” concept that could see local councils, universities, developers and residents contribute to some of the costs.
Though Cr Wood stressed the bulk of the money would still need to be found by the state and federal governments.
He said the contribution from council and others would help show policy makers that the residents and businesses of Melbourne were fully behind the “game changing” infrastructure project.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said bigger global cities were embarking on similar projects, so he could not understand why Melbourne could not manage the challenges too.
“We can’t afford not to do this because of the importance to our economy in the city and there the state as a whole,” he said.