The Age: Petrol price sky high, pressuring rates

As reported in The Age rising petrol prices have become a familiar sight in recent times as an increasing number of commentators reiterate that that the era of cheap petrol is over:

PETROL rose to a record high $1.45 a litre across Melbourne yesterday following warnings that it will increase further – potentially boosting inflation and putting pressure on interest rates.

While organisations such as the RACV favour the removal of taxation on fuel it should be blatantly apparent that such simplistic measures are not the solution, as oil prices will simply continue to increase due to strong demand from China and India on the world’s limited oil supplies.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin said it was obvious that petrol prices would keep increasing – and repeated the call for better tram, train and bus services.

He said Melbourne’s outer suburbs, which are heavily car reliant, would become “financially unviable” unless car dependence was reduced.

Melbourne’s outer suburbs need an alternative to car dependence and high petrol prices and that alternative will only be realised through the provision of better public transport.

A published report entitled Oil Vulnerability in the Australian City has explored the repercussions of rising petrol prices within Melbourne and has found the following:

Clearly outer-suburban areas, locations that contain low socio-economic status populations, and suburbs which have high levels of car dependence will be the most affected by such increases. Acknowledging this uneven distribution of impacts will be critical to policies that governments may pursue to adjust our urban systems to cope with costlier fuel.

With transport being one of the largest items of expenditure within a household budget (averaging 15.2%) it is clear that rising petrol prices will disproportionately affect those people who do not have an alternative to car dependence.

The responsibility rests with the State Government to improve public transport through providing much needed tram and train extensions and substantially improved bus services.

The report can be downloaded via the Urban Research Program at Griffith University.

VLGA Seminar: Does the buck stop with Councillors

Tonight I attended a seminar hosted by the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) which provided an overview of council budgets, the federal grants commission and the rating system.

The seminar proved quite informative in understanding the Federal grants system towards local government and the growing dependence on rates for councils.

Dandenong Community Cabinet

As the branch convener of the outer east branch of the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) I, alongside Cr. Roz Blades from the City of Greater Dandenong and June Whitton, the co-convener of the PTUA south east branch attended the Dandenong Community Cabinet to seek a delegate with Transport Minister Peter Batchelor.

In a complete contrast the Maroondah Community Cabinet in 2005, Minister Batchelor was rather courteous and seemed appreciative to hear the PTUA’s input and requests to improve public transport within the outer suburbs.

Minister Batchelor offered a glimmer of hope through the Transport and Liveability Statement stating that it would provide a framework and funding towards new bus contracts resulting in streamlined bus routes and improved services.

There is growing speculation regarding the Transport and Liveability Statement and it must be hoped that the State Government finally delivers on the promises it has made towards public transport.

Maroondah Leader: Ashley on wrong track

The following letter was written and published in the Maroondah Leader on the 25th of April in response Bayswater State Candidate Gordon Ashley’s proposal to relocate Ringwood Station from the heart and Ringwood and into a poorly located position near the EastLink freeway:

While it is encouraging to see independent candidate for Bayswater, Gordon Ashley’s, continued focus on the Ringwood bus and train interchange it is unfortunate that Mr. Ashley appears intent to remove public transport from the heart of Ringwood.

As Mr. Ashley should be aware passengers utilise a service to travel in the most efficient manner to their destination. The extremely well patronised bus service along Wantirna/Stud Roads connects Ringwood with Knox and Dandenong in a more direct route that any future bus services along EastLink. This is why the Public Transport Users Association and a number of local councils successfully campaigned to secure a future SmartBus along Stud and Wantirna Roads.

Ringwood Station is a prominent and extremely well patronised transport hub and while integration and accessibility require urgent improvements the basic principles are solid.

The success of Ringwood will depend on strengthening the town centre as a prominent destination in eastern Melbourne. Since Ringwood Station is prominent transport hub any moves to diminish or remove public transport from the town centre will literally drive people and therefore business from the heart of Ringwood.

Cr. Alex Makin

Outer East Branch Convenver
Public Transport Users Association

It is unfortunate that Gordon Ashley seems intent to cause grave inconvenience to public transport users and pedestrians by removing public transport and a convenient walking environment from the heart of Ringwood.

Anzac Day Dawn Service

This morning at 5:45 am I had the pleasure of attending the Anzac Day dawn service at the Ringwood Clocktower. The proceedings were organised by the Ringwood RSL and it was extremely encouraging to see such large crowds in attendance.

Anzac Day is a time of reflection, to commemorate the sacrifice made through war and to remember those that have fallen. The Maroondah community should be honoured over the large turnout the community provided to this service.

EVs Youth Centre

FreeZA is a State Government program which providing funding to bodies such as local councils to form committee of young people to run cultural events for people aged 12 to 25.

The Maroondah FReeZA Group consists of about 12 young people who are responsible for hosting live local music events and includes responsibility in all areas of running these events, such planning, budgeting and promotion.

I attended one of the FreeZA meetings this afternoon, which is based at EVs Youth Centre located in Mount Dandenong Road, Croydon. EVs is home to a number of entertainment acts throughout the year organised by the volunteers within FreeZA.

For more information on EVs please visit

Maroondah Disability Forum

Maroondah’s Disability Forum is a quarterly forum which allows people with to raise issues directly with Maroondah Council in regard to accessibility, transport and support services.

Today’s agenda included details of Maroondah Council’s new accessibility works and a representative from Connex was available to discuss new accessibility initiatives for the rail network.

The next Disability Forum will be held on the 31st of July from 10am to 12pm at the Ringwood RSL.

Ringwood Film and Video Makers

Tonight on behalf of Maroondah City Council I had the honour and privilege of attending the Ringwood Film and Video Makers 50th anniversary.

It is remarkable to see a non-profit organisation continue so strongly after 50 years and it is a testament to the dedication provided by the many members within the club. The Ringwood Film and Video Makers was formed in 1956 so that can members can make and showcase their movies and the organisation has prospered throughout this time readily adapting to new technology including the latest in video editing and DVD recording.

The evening showcased footage created by the Ringwood Film and Video Makers from the past 50 years and it was remarkable to see such high quality content and the usage of creative special effects.

I wish the Ringwood Film and Video Makers all the very best and no doubt they will continue to prosper as they approach their 75th and 100th anniversaries.
Congratulations to all past and current members of the Ringwood Film and Video Makers it is an incredible achievement to be a part of a non-profit organisation that is still thriving after 50 years.

For details on the Ringwood Film and Video Makers please visit their website at

MAV Transport and Infrastructure Advisory Group

I was recently appointed onto the MAV Transport and Infrastructure Group which held its first meeting for 2006 this evening. The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is the industry recognised organisation representing local government within Victoria and as such is addressing transport and infrastructure needs on a strategic level.

There is a clear understanding within local government that public transport must be improved to secure Melbourne and Victoria’s future economic, social and environmental wellbeing. The MAV is particularly concerned with the disjointed approach the State Government has provided towards public transport and it is clear that this must be rectified.

The State Government’s last opportunity to address this will be within the upcoming and much anticipated Transport and Liveability Statement. Melbourne deserves better that the haphazard approach afforded to us over the past six years.

Heatherdale Road Action Group

Prior to being elected onto Maroondah Council I was a regular attendee to meetings held by Heatherdale Road Action Group and I have continued to attend these meetings since being elected last November.

Since being elected onto Maroondah City Council I have endeavoured to keep the Heatherdale Road Action Group informed particularly in regard to the upcoming contest mention against Southern Rocycling which is now scheduled for the 2nd of May at the Ringwood Magistrates Court.

Residents of Heatherdale Road are fortunate to have an active and strong community action group and I appreciate the ongoing involvement I have with the Heatherdale Road Action Group.