The Age: Letters – 18 May 2014 – Labor should promise transparent plan for all
So Premier Napthine is lining up his spending, pre-election, with the Abbott government’s ”king of the roads” policy obsession, while ignoring social welfare needs including education, hospitals and ambulances (”The great divide”, 11/5). State Labor, ahead in the polls, has the chance to take a statesman-like stance on public transport and refuse to match the desperate Coalition, which is behind in the polls, project for project. The ALP should commit to sensible ongoing policies that raise passenger capacity on all lines such as high-capacity signalling and more new suburban trains. But the centrepiece of ALP policy should be a proper, open, comprehensive and consultative public transport development plan for all of Melbourne with emphasis on value for money and meeting the needs of all suburbs, rather than ”grand” projects paid on the never-never.
John McPherson, Collingwood
A two-card trick?
The Coalition obviously believes it has pulled off a massive con job persuading the public that the East West Link will benefit them, despite evidence that it won’t relieve congestion, will cost more than four desalination plants, cannot be justified via a business case, and is a project for which they have no mandate. So why not repeat the exercise with a completely new plan to build a railway to Fishermans Bend for which again there is no obvious benefit, no population density and no business case.
Somewhat contradictorily they are willing to disrupt and destroy Royal Park, but wish to save us from a similar fate with the unappealing Swanston Street. Is it simply that the Coalition won’t follow through on any plan devised by Labor? One that has cost millions in planning by transport academics to the point where it is shovel ready and has proven benefits for people already living in the inner and outer suburbs desperate for higher-capacity public transport. Or are they so full of hubris that they believe the voters will not examine carefully what’s proposed and will fall for an exorbitantly expensive and inappropriate two-card trick?
Mike Reece, Balwyn North
Policy on the run
We’ve had a Coalition government that for three years has sat on its hands on serious infrastructure projects. Ted Baillieu’s government was elected on promises to fund public transport (Doncaster rail), but instead voters were lumped with Denis Napthine’s East West Link – a project with spurious benefits, significant impacts, a dangerously short time in planning, a secret business case, and a development timeline that has bids submitted before community consultation is concluded, and contracts signed before the public get a chance to vote on it.
Now we get the Melbourne Rail Link – a (less metro) Melbourne Metro. Melbourne has long been crying out for action on public transport – all the more pertinent with the increase to petrol excise – but is this it? Better public transport and east-west connectivity are grand promises to bring to the election, but can these be trusted? Policy procrastination has meant that both projects seem to have been planned on the hop and this short-changes Victorians.
Andrew Bullen, Clifton Hill