Lack of transparency is a slippery slope

The Age – Letters: Lack of transparency is a slippery slope. 5 October 2014

The government’s ongoing secrecy is merely part of the broader problem of the use of ”commercial-in-confidence” provisions in contracts with the corporate sector. The insidious use of such clauses limits public accountability and undermines crucial scrutiny of the performance of the companies. This lack of transparency – also used extensively by previous Labor governments – is a slippery slope to corruption. Daniel Andrews might wish to consider there is a political windfall for a party that states unequivocally that any government he leads will not hide behind the cloak of commercial-in-confidence. Companies bidding for government projects must expect their potential massive profits come with a requirement that recognises the sovereignty of the taxpayer.

Richard Aspland, Rosanna


Parkland will never recover

I pray this truly awful project is not built. That Royal Park West will not be destroyed by the seven elevated viaducts weaving through it. The map’s glossy blue and green depictions do not represent reality. The ”wetlands” under and between the viaducts will not provide quality habitat and biodiversity for birds and other fauna. Passive recreation along ”boardwalks” and a ”water-themed playground” will not be possible. At the panel hearings, it was stated high noise levels from the roads would not be conducive to passive recreational pursuits. No noise amelioration measures will be installed in parkland areas.

The plans do not show the destruction of the large areas of additional parkland to be used for construction purposes. Or that it will take many years for vegetation to be re-established. Recognised remnant native vegetation and significant faunal habitat will never be replaced. And yet more parkland will be excised for the Zoo’s shameful and opportunistic land grab for a large new car park. To say nothing of the 20 metre-high ventilation stack to be built high on the railway embankment with its visual detriment and emission concerns.

Kaye Oddie, Friends of Royal Park, Parkville


Stop-start traffic a feature of all cities

Gina Wilson (Letters, 28/9) repeats a common misconception about road transport – even though experts busted it decades ago. The thinking goes that by building more roads you can convert stop-start traffic into free-flowing traffic. It’s reinforced by the fact that short-term relief does often occur. But the lesson from the last half-century is that traffic expands to fill the space available, reproducing the same congestion but with more people caught up in it. Worldwide, you simply do not find large cities without stop-start traffic, however many or few big roads they have. Honest planners design for a fixed level of congestion, not a fixed volume of traffic.

According to the government’s own comprehensive impact statement, any congestion benefits will vanish within a decade. Going on the experience with CityLink, it’ll be more like five years. Investing in alternatives to car use, and not in big roads, removes the need for so many to travel by car in the first place. Ultimately that’s the only way we’ll keep congestion manageable for those who need to drive.

Tony Morton, president, Public Transport Users Association


Debate sidelined

Victorian voters are being led by the nose down a dark cul de sac – again. This election has now become a referendum on the East West Link. The polling of both parties must indicate to them that they are on a winner.

The victor will claim it has a mandate to press ahead with its policies. But the victor certainly doesn’t have a mandate in all the more important areas that have been sidelined by the East West focus. Where do the major parties stand on the homeless, the disadvantaged, health, education, short and long-term development issues; and how do our votes try to send a message that it is in these areas that we are judging them? We all want a liveable Melbourne but we also want a liveable society and six kilometres of road is way down the priority list for many. The political process remains deeply flawed and the number of disenchanted voters is growing ever larger.

Peter Thomson, Richmond


How about local roads?

Dr Napthine, what will the East West Link do to improve roads like Warrigal Road, which must rate as one of the worst in Melbourne. It is a nightmare 24/7 for the people who live on it and those who use it. It is a constant stream of truck traffic sharing the road with commuters and locals vying for pole position all squashed into two lanes. Will $6 billion spent on a tunnel make any difference to roads like this?

Mary Halfpenny, Carnegie

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