Report On No Road Tunnels Protest At Premier Brumby’s Transport Summit

Report on Fridays Rally by Julianne Bell, Convenor Royal Park Protection Group Inc.

Dear Campaigners for Sustainable Public Transport No Road Tunnels – Report On No Road Tunnels Protest At Premier Brumby’s Transport Summit

Thanks to Protestors
Firstly, many thanks to all – about 50 people – who attended the community protest in the Plaza at the John Batman’s Datum (i.e. the red flagpole marking Batman’s Hill) at the Telstra Dome on Friday last 5 September 2008. It was at the difficult time of 1: 15 am for an 11:30 am start but was determined by the Premier’s Transport Summit which was scheduled to start at 12 noon.

Success of Community Protest
A measure of the success of the protest was that it was covered by four TV stations Channels 2, 7, 9 and 10. Channel 3 may be doing a documentary on the opposition to road tunnels. The Herald Sun mentioned our protest but not the Age news. (There has been a letter published today see below.) We expect that it may feature in local papers in the coming week including The Melbourne Times, The Moonee Valley and Melbourne Leader papers. (See the website for TV footage and photos by Cory Baudman. See also, YCAT website (Yarra Campaign Against the Tunnel)

Also an indication that we had been noticed – Premier Brumby refused to face the protest and went into the Transport Summit by a side door via the car park. We were there to present him, with the resolution passed at the rally. See attached and below. See also our media release of 4 September 2008.

Background – Failure of Government to Consult
Here is some background. As you may know the Brumby government staged 8 transport forums organised by the Department of Transport, ostensibly to consult with the public on Victoria’s Transport Plan. Members of Parliament with inner metropolitan seats. Members of Parliament with inner Melbourne seats – namely Bronwyn Pike (Melbourne), Richard Wynne (Richmond) and Carlo Carli (Brunswick) belatedly and at extremely short notice held their own forums.

These forums were intended to provide community feedback for the Premier’s Transport Summit, which was originally scheduled for mid September. Although the MP’s declared that their forums were for local residents they were by invitation only and, significantly many community organisations, individuals and local residents were refused invitations and admission.

See Letter in the Age 8 September 2008: “Talking to all the ‘right’ people

PREMIER John Brumby claims that we have been consulted over Sir Rod Eddington’s grand transport plan for Melbourne (Insight, 6/9). In the past month, eight transport forums – Clayton’s consultations – were held in country Victoria and outer suburbs, none in central Melbourne.

Then some Government MPs did their own thing and held forums. Carefully selected individuals and community groups were invited, but many were refused admission. ALP members did score invitations.

Forum facilitators ensured that controversial topics were not raised – such as Eddington’s $9 billion road tunnels through the inner city and elevated freeways through the western suburbs.

On Friday, the Premier evaded protesters waiting to present him with demands for sustainable public transport, slipping into his transport summit through the Telstra Dome car park. Not only is the Premier not properly consulting, but he also isn’t listening to the wider public on Melbourne’s transport fiascos.

Julianne Bell, convener, Royal Park Protection Group, Hawthorn

Organisers of Community Protest Opposing Road Tunnels
The Royal Park Protection Group (RPPG) and Yarra Campaign Against Tunnels (YCAT), in consultation with resident and environmental groups in the East and West of Melbourne facilitated the Community Protest for a wide range of groups and concerned individuals at the Premier’s Transport Summit. A special thanks to Freda Watkin of YCAT for her work on arranging the protest.

After recognising the Wurundgeri as traditional owners of the land, I – acting as MC in Rod Quantock’s absence – called on the speakers. Colleen Hartland, Greens Upper House Member of Parliament for the Western Metropolitan Province, spoke on the threat to the western suburbs of Eddington’s option for an elevated roadway through the western suburbs. It appears that 800 residences in its path may well be compulsorily acquired. Residents are in a state of uncertainty given that no proper plans have been released. She said that a number of groups in addition to the Greens have been formed including “No Freeway 4 Footscray”.

Daniel Bowen, President of the Public Transport Users Association (PUT) spoke on the extraordinary demands on public transport and the need for funding. He also covered the news of the breaking scandal of the 8 Hitachi railway trains carriages, which had been been sold off cheap to a collector, but bought back for service and again decommissioned when it was found that they were rusted throughout.

John Cox spoke for YCAT on the threat to Yarra municipality of Eddington’s road tunnels and I spoke for the Royal Park Protection Group on the certain destruction of Royal Park if road tunnel construction proceeds. On an Open Mike session we had comments from organizations including the Carlton Residents Association; the Kensington Association; the Mt Alexander Road Campaign Group; and the West Sunshine Residents’ Group. Also attending were representatives from No Freeway 4 West Footscray group and Greens campaigning for No Freeway through Nillumbik.

Resolution to Premier
The meeting agreed unanimously to pass the draft resolution to the Premier. See attached and below. Protestors walked down the concourse with banners – and the media in attendance – and reassembled at Gate 9 where the Premier was expected to arrive at 12:30 pm. His staff insisted that the resolution be given to them to be passed onto the Premier. He evaded both the protest group and the media by entering the Transport Forum via the carpark. RPPG plans to distribute the resolution to members of Parliament.

That this protest meeting, comprising community representatives from across Melbourne and facilitated by the Royal Park Protection Group Inc. (RPPG) and the Yarra Campaign against the tunnel (YCAT), resolve to request the Transport Summit and the State Government NOT to endorse Sir Rod Eddington’s proposals for road tunnels.

We demand that the nominal $9 billion allocated for the East West Link be invested instead in infrastructure for improved and expanded public transport and rail freight in Victoria. We ask that this include rapid transit rail to Doncaster along the Eastern Freeway.

Report from Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. on Transport Summit
A representative of PPL VIC (a coalition of 80 or so Victoria wide environment, heritage and community groups) and attended the Transport Summit. We will circulate any reports we receive.

Signed: Julianne Bell, Convenor Royal Park Protection Group Inc. Phone 0408 022 408