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Meeting Our Transport Challenges – The Media Verdict

By May 18, 2006No Comments

News of the government’s transport and liveability statement featured in both the Herald-Sun and The Age with both papers focused on the poor response the statement had received: Herald-Sun:

THE Bracks Government’s election-year transport statement has been met with both praise and disappointment. Winners such as Connex, Metlink and the Bus Association of Victoria were among the grinners. But the major motoring body was unhappy that the transport statement fell short on roads. And commuter and green groups slammed the Government for not going far enough on public transport.

The negative response was due to the fact that The Transport and Liveability Statement delivered media spin above any real substance:

The Public Transport Users’ Association said that despite an extension of bus services, many Melburnians would still be in transport black holes. “This statement is just the latest of a continuing saga of plans that have simply been regurgitated to provide endless re-announcements with very few tangible improvements,” spokesman Alex Makin said.

The failure of the Statement to provide tangible improvements to public transport has demonstrated that despite the continued rhetoric the government is unable to integrate planning and transport needs.

“The failure of this statement to radically boost the frequency of bus services and to immediately implement much-needed rail extensions is a result of the failure to create an efficient planning and public transport authority. “This statement was the last opportunity to give credibility to Peter Batchelor and the Bracks Government.”

The Age provided further details:

THE State Government’s 25-year transport blueprint has met with a mixed response, with public transport and road lobbies declaring it too little too late, but others warmly welcoming it.In one of its most important pre-election showpieces, the Government outlined a $10.5 billion package that touched on the full range of transport modes, from adding lanes to freeways to fixing up local bike paths. But so disappointed was the Public Transport Users Association that it called for Mr Batchelor’s resignation.

The Government has unfortunately failed to deliver any tangible improvements to public transport to make it competitive with car travel. After almost seven years, the Bracks Government should have already begun implementing its vision for public transport. Unfortunately the Govenrment has simply failed to implement a cohesive and integrated vision despite the fact that increasing petrol prices are placing a severe financial strain on households.

“This statement was the last opportunity to give credibility to Peter Batchelor and the Bracks Government,” said spokesman Alex Makin. “Peter Batchelor has botched his portfolio and must now resign so the Government can start afresh.”

While the decision to call for Peter Batchelor’s resignation was not taken lightly it is imperative that the government realises that it must deliver a plan that will provide an alternative to car dependence.

Both Labor and the Opposition agree that transport is a high-order issue in an election for the first time in decades.

With the State Election to occur in November this year it is imperative that both the Baillieu Liberal Opposition and the Bracks ALP government deliver a platform to will provide tangible public transport improvements and not continued hype and broken promises.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said Victorians had again been let down by the Government. “They’ve been waiting for seven years, suffering traffic jams, suffering transport delays which are only getting worse, and now they find that the best this Government can offer them is another five years before a major project kicks in,” he said.

The Age succinctly surmised the failure of the Statement by comparing it to the State Government’s goal of increasing public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020:

In assessing it, let’s use the Government’s benchmark: getting Melburnians out of cars and onto public transport. Labor’s aim in 2002 was that by 2020, 20 per cent of all motorised trips would be by public transport. The figure then was about 9 per cent and has increased a little since. Effectively the Liveability statement is the belated action plan to achieve this goal.

With the State Government failing to provide much needed rail extensions to South Morang, Rowville and Doncaster and a failure to provide at least fifteen minute bus services it is clear that the Government has no intent to fulfil its own goal.

Little surprise then, that the 20/20/20 goal is mentioned once, only in passing, in this long-awaited statement supposedly dedicated to it.

Alex Makin

Alex Makin

Alex Makin is a councillor for the Mullum Ward in the City of Maroondah. Alex has been a councillor since 2005, representing ratepayers, businesses, community groups and residents. I aim to continue making a difference and welcome any thoughts you may have in regard to life, community and business in Maroondah. Phone: (03) 9870 8202 or 0408 311 645 Email: alex@alexmakin.com.au

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