As a public transport lobbyist and community advocate I regularly meet MPs in regard to issues that require urgent attention. During my last meeting with Phil Honeywood, the Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Warrandyte, I left a copy of the February 2005 edition of the PTUA newsletter which included a list of unfulfilled promises pledged by the Bracks Government during both the 1999 and 2002 State Election campaigns.
Among the list of broken promises was the construction of the third rail line from Box Hill to Ringwood. The construction of this third track would provide faster train journey times and increase the frequency of services to Ringwood. Currently this pledge is yet to be honoured more than six years after the initial promise was made.
In response to our discussions Mr. Phil Honeywood raised the matter in State Parliament on the 21st of April 2005:
Mr HONEYWOOD (Warrandyte) — The matter I wish to raise is for the attention of and action by the Minister for Transport. I note that he is unwell but ask him to respond to me. The action I seek is for inclusion in the state budget, which will be handed down in the short period of a couple of weeks, to ensure that consideration is given for funding for the third railway line, which was promised by the ALP in its 1999 election policy entitled ‘Rebuilding the transport network’. Not only was it promised, it was actually costed and funded. The policy states:
Labor will provide the following funds for this initiative …
The chart provided indicates them to be $4.5 million in 2001-02 and $5 million in 2002-03. The policy goes on to state that the $9.5 million would be used:
… to construct a third track between Blackburn and Mitcham.
This will allow the introduction of Belgrave and Lilydale flier trains during morning and evening peak periods running express Ringwood-Box Hill-Richmond …
The flier trains will take more than 5 minutes off the present journey …
Then, of course, nothing happened in the two years in which the track was meant to be funded. Following the state budget in 2001 the Minister for Transport issued a media release. It states:
The Minister for Transport, Peter Batchelor, said work was progressing on train and tram extensions announced in the 2000-01 state budget as part of the Bracks government’s $1.5 billion Linking Victoria program.
These projects include:
Flier trains on the Dandenong, Frankston and Ringwood lines …
It states also that the government will be looking at providing an additional third track on the Ringwood line.
When nothing had happened after four years, despite the $9 million funding commitment in the 1999 election policy, at the same time last year — just before the budget came down — I raised the need for the funding commitment to be met and progressed. It is interesting to note that in the Maroondah Journal of 25 May 2004 a government spokesperson on behalf of Minister Batchelor was quoted as saying:
The issues raised with regard to train services on the Ringwood line will be addressed in the government’s metropolitan transport strategy, due to be released later this year.
That was later in 2004. Again here we are with absolutely no funding commitment for the third train line to ensure that my constituents and constituents in the outer east in a number of marginal Labor electorates have that 1999 election promise met. I am indebted to the Public Transport Users Association for highlighting that that is a broken promise. A third rail track to Ringwood was excluded from the metropolitan transport plan and therefore it is a broken promise.