To further its campaign for public transport improvements in the eastern suburbs, the Eastern Transport Coalition funded a delegation to Canberra to lobby Federal Parliamentarians for involvement in urban public transport.
I was part of this delegation which consisted of Knox Councillor and ETC Chair, Cr. Mick Van de Vreede, Manningham Councillor, Grace La Vella and the CEO of Greater Dandenong, John Bennie. In addition, the trip also had the support of the Metropolitan Transport Forum, meaning that the delegation was in effect representing most of metropolitan Melbourne.
In 2005 The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment And Heritage tabled its report on an inquiry into Sustainable Cities. This report identified the need for sustainable cities through a vision of economically, socially and environmentally vibrant and healthy urban centres. In particular, the report identified that there is a need for the Federal Government to assume a significant leadership role in achieving sustainable cities. Despite these findings neither the Australian Liberal Party or the ALP have currently formally responded to the recommendations listed within the report.
Despite delays at Melbourne Airport, where our 8.25 am flight did not depart until 11.10 am, the trip proved to be beneficial through direct meetings with Federal Parliamentarians, advisors and other key industry groups.
The delegation left Melbourne on Tuesday the 14th of August and arranged meetings with:
- Dr. Mal Washer, Member for Moore and Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage;
- Martin Ferguson, Shadow Minister for Transport;
- Stewart McArthur, Corangamite and member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage and member of the Sustainable Cities Inquiry;
- Simon Crean, Shadow Minister for Regional Development;
- Advisors to Mark Vale, Minister for Transport;
- Anna Burke, Member for Chisholm
In addition, Mick van de Vreede and I also met:
- The Australasian Railways Association;
- The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
The ETC prepared a presentation outlining the economic, social and environmental benefits of public transport and highlighted the national costs of these issues to explain the need for Federal involvement in urban public transport. There was general consensus that, with the exception of Western Australia, State Governments across Australia have failed to adequately improve public transport and that models examining the potential for federal funding are worth exploring.
The delegation provided an opportunity to directly lobby members of Federal Parliament and other key stakeholders over issues surrounding the sustainability of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. In particular these discussions will allow the Eastern Transport Coalition to develop further content to explore suitable models for Federal involvement in urban public transport.