Kew looms as referendum on the East West link

Melbourne Leader: Kew looms as referendum on the East West link. Greg Gliddon. 17 November 2014

The East West Link dominates discussion among Kew election candidates. Picture: News Limited.

The upcoming state election looms as a referendum on the East West Link and the electorate of Kew sits as a key stakeholder in the controversial road’s future.

Labor candidate James Gaffey threw down the gauntlet to Liberal rival Tim Smith during interviews that Leader conducted exclusively with Kew candidates, suggesting the link could spell the end of any future Doncaster rail extension.

Candidates were asked a series of questions without notice to gauge their opinions on a range of key issues before the November 29 poll.

“We (Labor) are keen to get public-private transport balance right,” Mr Gaffey said.

“We believe we have the better transport infrastructure policies.

“We are keen to find a solution which doesn’t increase through traffic through Kew which is likely to result from motorists avoiding tolls.

“Also if this (the East West Link) does go ahead and do that expansion, the government is being coy as to how that will take place.

“The only likely place (for extra lanes on the Eastern Freeway) is the median strip and if that goes in it destroys the Doncaster rail option for all time.”

The Government announced last year that the Eastern Fwy would be widened by one lane in both directions to accommodate the expected increase in traffic.

However, Mr Smith argued greater interconnectively was essential for a growing city.

“Kew residents are sick of commuting into town every day on the eastern and hitting the worst traffic bottle neck in Melbourne at Hoddle St,” Mr Smith said.

“From a jobs perspective we need these large scale infrastructure projects to drive our local economy on.”

Greens candidate Lynn Frankes said her party would also oppose the link.

“It is an incredibly expensive project that will starve funding for public transport for years to come,” Ms Frankes said.

“We need to get people out of their cars and onto a world-class public transport system.”

The candidates were also asked about the Kew Cottages development, with both Mr Gaffey and Ms Frankes saying they would personally support an investigation into Major Projects Victoria and its handling of the development, as has been demanded by the Kew Cottages Coalition.

Mr Smith said those with concerns about the development had every right to request an investigation by the Independent broad-based anti-corruption commission (IBAC).

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