The Age Letters: This crisis offers a chance to do better

The Age Letters: This crisis offers a chance to do better (11th November, 2008)

If the world financial crisis causes extravagant, unsustainable infrastructure projects like Sir Rod Eddington’s $9 billion road tunnel to be scrapped (“Transport strategy delay as federal funding wobbles”, The Age, 8/11), there would be a silver lining to this otherwise dark cloud.

Let’s hope it hinders other unsustainable projects like the desalination plant, which will double the cost of water, and the Frankston bypass, which bisects the last metropolitan habitat of the southern brown bandicoot and pastoral landscapes down to Moorooduc. If it takes developer pressure off green wedges, so much the better.

Let’s follow Ross Garnaut’s advice and use the the $12 billion left in the Building Australia Fund for projects that contribute to solving, rather than worsening, climate change problems. Let’s build railway lines to forgotten suburbs; put money into recycling stormwater and sewage so we can close the Gunnamatta outfall and the stinking drains into the bay.

The credit crunch has silenced self-serving housing industry pleas for more land for affordable housing, which developers do not provide anyway. Let us build public housing by the Government purchasing 20% of new housing, which should be environmentally sustainable developments. Let’s provide what people need, not just construction company profits.

Rosemary West, Edithvale

Heads in the sand on this
Most of the Melbourne lord mayoral candidates claim to oppose Eddington’s east-west tunnel “if it impacts on local parkland”. There’s no “if”, as there is no way this monstrosity could be built without wrecking and stealing our parklands. In the case of Royal Park, which voracious successive governments have regarded as terra nullius, the recently completed wetlands will be destroyed just as water birds have made them their home, a rare sanctuary.

The freeway seems designed to cut through the storage pond before exiting in the middle of CityLink. The State Government contributed $5 million for these wetlands before the Commonwealth Games, and doesn’t seem bothered by this waste of money.

As well, the City of Melbourne has just embarked upon an expensive project costing several million to install water storage tanks under the Ross Straw Field. This is one of the few water reservoirs in inner Melbourne but this, too, will be destroyed by the invasive freeway, and all those signs, at the park’s remaining sports grounds and the golf course, saying “using recycled water” will not be needed.

Pamela Lloyd, West Brunswick

Not in my backyard
I have lived in Melbourne’s western suburbs all my life. In the past 15 years I have seen some big changes. Yarraville, Seddon and West Footscray have been invigorated and renewed, and there is now a real sense of community in these areas. Who is responsible for this change?

Not the State Government, which continues to take the western suburbs for granted. It hoped the new transport strategy would go unnoticed and unchallenged. But the residents of West Footscray will continue to protest against the east-west tunnel plan and demand that more money be spent on upgrading and improving public transport.

Catherine Leslie, West Footscray