Upcoming Council Elections

Thank you to the many individuals and community organisations that have shared their time over the past seven years. It has been an absolute honour to represent the Loughnan’s HIll Ward and the Mullum Wards in the City of Maroondah.

We accomplished a lot over these years, including new investment in community infrastructure, a focus on public transport advocacy and a Council that responds to needs in the community. During my time as Mayor I reversed twelve years of budget deficits and improved the accountability of Councils by encouraging debate and discussion during Council meetings.

I was the first elected Councillor to regularly maintain a blog, documenting my Council activities and to engage communities through social media. I provided a range of contact options to ensure that constituents were able to easily make contact with an elected representative.

After seven years I will not be renominating at the upcoming Council elections. I would like to thank the many people who have offered support and encouragement for providing the opportunity to respond to their concerns.

We have a great seven years together but it now time for me to focus on my career and other pursuits. I like the people of Loughnan’s Hill Ward and the Mullum Ward for the opportunity to serve as their elected representative.

Maroondah Leader: Trains unreliable

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the decline in reliability for trains serving Maroondah through the Belgrave and Lilydale lines.

Cr Alex Makin said the lack of services left passengers waiting up to 30 minutes to get from Croydon to Ringwood.

While peak-hour services continue to suffer from reliability issues, there is also a lack of frequent rail services serving stations beyond Ringwood during inter-peak times.

“The whole notion of Ringwood being the Central Activities District is built on the notion of reliable and frequent public transport.”

While the Government should be commended for committing to the redevelopment of Ringwood Station from 2014, there is a need to provide frequent services to reduce the delays in travelling to and from Ringwood and other stations in Maroondah.

Maroondah Leader: Half-hearted trips

While there was a definite need for the Department of Transport to undertaken a review of bus services across metropolitan Melbourne, some of the resulting changes have not provided better services.

The Maroondah Leader has reported on changes to bus route 364, which was altered to terminate at Warrandyte Bridge instead of Doncaster Shoppingtown.

Cr Alex Makin said Warranwood and Ringwood North residents were worse
off and that he would raise the issue at the next Eastern Transport
Coalition meeting.

This means that there is no longer a seamless service for Ringwood North or Warranwood residents to get to destinations like Doncaster Shoppingtown making public transport less efficient and more difficult to use.

The review undertaken for bus services need to provide service improvements, specifically more frequent services that connect destinations. Overall implementation of the review has been poor and the new State Government needs to ensure that resources are allocated to provide improvements to bus services.

Media Release: Final call for commitment for Ringwood Station upgrade

Maroondah City Council has issued a final call to all political parties to commit to the redevelopment of Ringwood Station into a safe, accessible and integrated transport interchange.

“Both the Greens and Liberal parties have listened to the concerns expressed by the Maroondah community regarding the urgent need to upgrade Ringwood Station within the term of the next government, but unfortunately the call has fallen on deaf ears with the current State Government.”

“While Council received a commitment in 2008 from Labor to fund the development of the Ringwood bus interchange and other improvements around the station, to date we have had no commitment to fund the upgrade of Ringwood Station itself,” said Cr Makin.

“We now wait in hope that the Labor party will follow its parliamentary colleagues, listen to the Maroondah community and commit to an upgrade,” said Cr Makin.

“Council has worked closely with the Maroondah community on a high profile advocacy campaign to highlight the urgent need for the funding commitment, as well as a commitment of starting date,” said Cr Makin.

“The campaign called for all major political parties to commit to an upgrade of Ringwood Station within the term of the next government. The Greens and Liberals listened to our community’s concerns and are now on board, we continue to await a commitment from the Labor party,” Cr Makin said.

“Council’s campaign has received enormous community support with a Ringwood Station upgrade petition receiving almost 3000 signatures,” Cr Makin said.

“The strong community support for the campaign has secured a commitment from two out of three major state political parties. It is extremely disappointing to note that the Labor Party not only continues to ignore the Maroondah community but ignores the need to fund the missing piece of its own Central Activities District,” Cr Makin said.

“The feedback I have received from people during the course of the campaign is that people want a station which is safe, accessible and integrated,” Cr Makin said.

“I will be presenting a copy of the petition, with all signatures and comments to both the Greens and Liberals in an acknowledgement of their support to the Maroondah community,” said Cr Makin.

“I will also be delivering a copy of the petition to Mr Brian Tee, Parliamentary Secretary on Public Transport, and Maroondah’s representative for the Eastern Metropolitan Region of the State Legislative Council,” said Cr Makin.

“The petition containing the almost 3000 signatures and comments will surely provide a weighty reminder to the Parliamentary Secretary and his colleagues in the Victorian Labor Party to sit up and take notice of the Maroondah community,” said Cr Makin.

Some of the comments posted on Council’s online petition:

“This station urgently needs an upgrade due to the increasing older population, to assist in making the train more accessible. It is very difficult for the elderly to manage stairs etc and updating the station would hopefully make it more secure for travellers. Older people don’t want to travel for this reason, it limits their freedom.”

“No one feels safe at this station. Our worries should not be ignored.”

“The upgrade is urgently needed if it wants to attract future residents. It’s needed to keep the existing travel users safe and secure. What happened to the Government’s duty of care. What happened to the Government’s responsibilty to Maroondah residents?”

“The current state of Ringwood Station is unacceptable. It is clearly not safe for the community- particularly those who are vulnerable ie pregnant women, elderly, disabled, mothers with prams- and its complete redevelopment should be the government’s highest priority.”

“This is an issue of great importance and ought to be a priority on the agenda for state political parties. Ringwood has been very much left behind and the upgrade would not only assist with the mobility of disabled commuters but will also make the area safer for all commuters.”

– ENDS –

Maroondah Leader: roll out the issues

The State Election is just over a month away and the Marooodah Leader has canvassed community organisations on the issues facing Maroondah and Melbourne’s outer east:

Mayor Alex Makin said the council’s focus was on funding for the $48 million Maroondah Aquatic and Leisure Centre, but the major parties should also provide an ongoing commitment to Ringwood Central Activities District, preserving local government’s authority over planning decisions and more frequent public transport services.

It is imperative that all parties commit to a shared vision for Maroondah, including Ringwood’s status as a Central Activities District. This requires an ongoing commitment and planning certainty, as well as facilities that serve not only Maroondah but the wider eastern region.

Media Release: Ringwood Station funding pledge

“On behalf of the Maroondah community I would like to congratulate the Liberal Party for listening to the community’s concerns and pledging $60million to upgrade Ringwood Station,” Maroondah City Council Mayor Councillor Alex Makin said.

“I thank our local members of parliament Ryan Smith and Heidi Victoria for advocating strongly on behalf of the Maroondah community and securing not only the funding, but a commitment to start the project within the next term of Parliament,” Cr Makin said.

“The Liberal Party’s commitment follows last week’s announcement by the Greens who pledged their support to transform Ringwood Station into an accessible, safe and integrated public transport hub,” Cr Makin said.

“We have now secured a promise from two of the major political parties to upgrade Ringwood Station. I now call on the Labor Party to join with their colleagues and commit to an upgrade of Ringwood Station to improve the future prosperity of Ringwood and Melbourne’s eastern region”, Cr Makin said.

“A safe, vibrant and integrated Ringwood Station is the missing piece of the State Government’s own Ringwood Activities District and to date Council has collected more than 2000 signatures on a petition calling on all major parties to commit to funding an upgrade to Ringwood Station within the term of the next government,” Cr Makin said.

“During the course of Council’s campaign calling for the Ringwood Station upgrade we have received support from many members of the community including several disability advocates. A video was produced and uploaded to YouTube which highlighted the concerns people with a disability have about accessing Ringwood Station,” Cr Makin said.

“This video was an important part of the campaign and I thank those people who were willing to share their personal stories as a way of highlighting the inadequacies of the current station layout,” Cr Makin said.

“The community support has been critical in demonstrating the need for improvements to Ringwood Station. I congratulate people for standing up for what they believe in and making the political parties realise that they can no longer ignore the needs of the Maroondah community,” Cr Makin said.

– ENDS –

Media Release: Community seeks commitment to Ringwood Station at Forum

The Maroondah community took the opportunity to quiz representatives from the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party and The Greens on their public transport credentials at a forum hosted by the Eastern Transport Coalition last night.

Maroondah Mayor Councillor Alex Makin said the event, held at the Karralyka Centre, was attended by candidates contesting the lower and upper house seats, which cover Maroondah.

“Whilst the ALP and Liberal representatives did not provide any new announcements, the Greens gave a commitment to support the full redevelopment of the Ringwood Railway Station. The Greens Candidate for Kilsyth, Justin-Paul Sammons told the forum that he saw an upgrade to Ringwood Station as a priority, which needed to be addressed in the term of the next state government,” Cr Makin said.

“Prior to the forum, Greens candidate for Warrandyte Chris Padgham also signed the petition calling on all major parties to commit to an upgrade of Ringwood Station,” Cr Makin said. “Shadow Transport Minister Terry Mulder and incumbent Warrandyte MP Ryan Smith have also signed the petition but have yet to deliver any commitment.”

“I am absolutely delighted The Greens have pledged their support to transform Ringwood Station into an accessible, safe and integrated public transport hub. I call on all political parties to match this announcement and commit to the future prosperity of Ringwood and Melbourne’s eastern region”, Cr. Makin concluded.

Other issues which were raised at the forum included the number of buses in operation and the frequency of all public transport in the eastern region.

– ENDS –

Eastern Transport Coalition – State Candidates Forum at Maroondah

The Eastern Transport Coalition is a council initiated advocacy group, covering Melbourne’s seven outer eastern Councils; Greater Dandenong, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash Whitehorse and the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

As part of its advocacy campaign, the Eastern Transport Coalition is holding a series of candidate forums, throughout each of the member councils. The evening was attended by representatives of each of the three major parties, the Australian Labor Party, the Victorian Liberal Party and the Victorian Greens.

I provided the introduction to tonight’s forum to highlight the current public transport deficiencies within Maroondah. The speech is available within this entry:

Welcome candidates and the community to the Maroondah City Council Eastern Transport Coalition Public Transport Forum.

Maroondah City Council, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledges that we are meeting on the land for which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians for many centuries, and on Land which the indigenous Australians have performed age old ceremonies.

We are fortunate tonight to have secured Mr Clay Lucas as our independent moderator. Clay may be well known to some of you as he is part of The Age’s city team having worked The Age and The Sunday Age since 2005 as a city reporter. This role sees Clay reporting on a range of topics across the transport sector, including roads, public transport, planning and development. In 2009 Clay won a Quill for transport reporting with Age investigative reporter Royce Millar.

Before I hand over to Clay to get the evening underway I just want to provide a quick overview of the public transport issues that Maroondah sees as important to the community and help set the context of public transport in the east.

Regional Perspective

The eastern region is an established area experiencing significant economic and population growth.
This growth is mainly occurring through infill and consolidation of existing residential, commercial and employment areas.

The network is struggling to keep up with demand and provide services that the community require to carry out their day to day activities as viable alternatives to the motor vehicle.

The Victorian Transport Plan – Does not deliver for the east

To keep pace with the population and economic growth the current public transport system needs to expand.

The Victorian Transport Plan does not adequately consider or respond to the needs of the East and greater investment is still required, if the eastern suburbs are to continue to be liveable and met the State’s land use and transport plans as outlined in Melbourne @ 5 million.

The high household car ownership in the City of Maroondah is evidence of the public transport systems inability to provide a service that allows our community to undertake their daily activities. The ETC and Maroondah City Council call on the government for the development of a long term regional public transport strategy for the Eastern region.

Ringwood Station Upgrade

Ringwood is identified as one of six Central Activity Districts which will offer CBD type services in suburban locations. In recent MTF public survey, Ringwood Station was voted as Melbourne’s second worse station, after Richmond.

The current Ringwood Station is difficult to access with steep ramps to station platforms that fail the State Government’s Disability Discrimination Act requirements.

The footpath access from each side of the station is not safe, particularly for people in wheel chairs and there is not direct wheel chair access to the car park which is located at the bottom of a steep stairway.
There has been no significant upgrade to the station in more than 50 years and it is desperately needing to be modernised.

For Ringwood Station to be truly accessible to all and permit convenient transferring between transport services, it is imperative that it is clean, comfortable, accessible and safe and secure.

Triplication for the Belgrave/Lilydale line

As Central Melbourne will continue to be a major location for employment, the arts, culture, sport and leisure, central Melbourne should be conveniently accessible by public transport for all Melbournians.
The demand on the Belgrave/Lilydale lines, with approximately 93,000 daily boardings, make these lines one of Melbourne’s most highly patronised rail corridors.

The patronage of both lines is reaching capacity with overcrowding a regular passenger experience. To facilitate more efficient and comfortable commuting for those passengers coming from beyond Ringwood Station, the triplication of the line between Box Hill and Ringwood is required.

Better Buses

Buses are the largest public transport option available to residents within Maroondah and the neighbouring municipalities. Bus patronage is growing, particularly on services with long operation and high frequency of service, i.e. the SmartBus Routes.

The recently conducted Metropolitan Bus Service Reviews was a step in the right direction with identifying inadequate service and generating regional specific solutions. However, very few of the recommendations have been implemented and they have only been small route extensions or minimal frequency and duration improvements.

Bus services in Maroondah remain poor with limited out of peak services and long wait times between services throughout most of the day. Improving bus services in coverage, service frequency and duration will provide real alternatives to the private vehicle and enable the community of Maroondah to have real choice in transport.


The provision of a more equitable, accessible public transport will reduce the detrimental effects of poor access to public transport in the eastern region, such as, social isolation, high car dependency, reduced financial freedom or the inability to access services.

A truly integrated and accessible transport network will also reduce the regions vulnerability to changes in the environment, such as climate change and peak oil.

I thank you for your attendance tonight and look forward to hearing how the candidates respond to your issues.

I’ll now hand you over to Clay to get the evening underway.

Launching the Missing Piece – Advocacy for Ringwood Station

Ringwood Station fails to meet disability compliance standards and is perceived to be unsafe due to the poor station design, including narrow and steep ramps. The community has continually called for the full redevelopment of Ringwood Station into a safe, accessible and integrated interchange that will meet the needs of Ringwood as a vibrant urban centre.

While public transport is a State Government responsibility, Council must advocate on behalf of its community and it is clear that Maroondah is seeking a commitment for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station.

Council has been circulating a petition for the past month which has now attracted over 2000 signatures with approximately 1000 visitations through social media tools, including Facebook and Youtube. This evening Council officially launched the Missing Piece campaign with a direct call to action for all political parities to commit to the station upgrade.

Alex with Margaret launching Maroondah's Missing Piece campaign calling for the upgrade of Ringwood Station into an accessible, safe and integrated transport interchange
Alex with Margaret launching Maroondah's Missing Piece campaign calling for the upgrade of Ringwood Station into an accessible, safe and integrated transport interchange

Ringwood Station is the Missing Piece in a vision for Ringwood, since a lack of commitment diminishes the residential, commercial and community investment that is taking place. Margaret Stevens, a renowned accessibility advocate who spent a week at Eastland collecting signatures for the petition, joined me in launching the campaign and calling on all political parties to commit to Ringwood’s future.

Council’s video highlighting the condition of Ringwood Station was displayed throughout the launch reinforcing the accessibility difficulties that exist.


The speech provided during the launch is available within this post:

In the spirit of Reconciliation, we acknowledge that we are meeting on land for which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians for many centuries, and on land which the Indigenous Australians have performed age old ceremonies.

We, Maroondah City Council, accept, respect and have shared with the Wurundjeri people in their customs of welcome.

The Wurundjeri people support the coming together of all people, respecting their individuality to focus on a unified and cohesive nation.

As you have gathered here this evening, you will have seen the video playing overhead showing the difficulty people in our community, and particularly those with a disability, have accessing Ringwood Station and the 50 year old ramps leading to the station platforms.

This video has been an important element of an advocacy campaign Council has been running over the past six weeks.

The campaign is seeking a funding commitment from all state political parties in the lead up to the State election for the upgrade of Ringwood Station within the next term of government.

The campaign has been running for six weeks with significant support and media coverage from Maroondah’s two local papers, editorial has appeared each week for the past 6 weeks.

Community support has been extremely strong, and to date we have over 2000 signatures to the petition, from individuals and community groups.

One of these individuals is here with us tonight, and I would like to acknowledge Margaret Stevens for her dedication to the cause in securing over 600 signatures from the Maroondah community and beyond during a week at Eastland. In addition, several members of the community, including Dawn Oliffe spent time at Ringwood Station securing signatures for the petition.

Margaret is one of many voices demanding action for Ringwood Station. I have spoken with many people during the course of this campaign and the message from the community is clear, Maroondah residents are tired of waiting, they want a safe, integrated, accessible and vibrant Ringwood Station, and they want it in the term of the next government.

Tonight, Council is launching “The Missing Piece – Ringwood Station” in the lead up to this evening’s Eastern Transport Coalition Forum.

Alex with Margaret launching Maroondah's Missing Piece campaign calling for the upgrade of Ringwood Station into an accessible, safe and integrated transport interchange.
Alex with Margaret launching Maroondah's Missing Piece campaign calling for the upgrade of Ringwood Station into an accessible, safe and integrated transport interchange.

Significant investment and development continues in Ringwood, with support from the State Government and private enterprise, however the commitment to fund the redevelopment of Ringwood Station remains the missing piece of the vision for the Ringwood Central Activities District.

As you can see within the Ringwood Central Activities District jigsaw, we have EastLink providing an important road transport corridor from Mitcham to Frankston, an area responsible for 40 percent of Victoria’s manufacturing output and over 1.3 million people living in the area and providing more than 350,000 jobs.

The sporting, recreational and leisure facilities that either currently exist (Maroondah Federation Estate/Maroondah Art Gallery, tennis, croquet, football and cricket), are under construction (Soccer), or awaiting funding (proposed Maroondah Aquatic and Leisure) in the Jubilee Park precinct are within walking distance from Ringwood Station and the Central Activities District.

New businesses and services are moving to Ringwood, bringing increased employment and spending, as evidenced by the Connect East building perched over EastLink.

Ringwood Lake Park is an icon of Ringwood, providing enormous leisure and recreational pleasure all year round for people of all ages and abilities.

The $39million bus interchange is poised to change the face of Maroondah Highway, however, it does not provide an interface with the existing Ringwood Station.

Residential housing development is showing consistent growth within the Central Activities District with private building developers showing their support for the vision of Ringwood. The new 10 story co-operative housing development will soon be home to over 100 people early next year.

Eastland and the Ringwood Market site are expected to see construction and expansion of retail, community and business floorspace, changing the face of Ringwood significantly.

The Lake to Creek project will see pedestrian and cycling links between the Mullum Mullum Creek and Ringwood Lake, adding another vital layer to the accessibility of our city.

It is time to add the missing piece to the Ringwood Central Activities District jigsaw, a new Ringwood Station.

It is time for each state political party to not only acknowledge the need for an upgrade to Ringwood Station, but to actually stand up and commit to fund this important piece of public transport infrastructure that remains the missing piece of the vision for the State Government’s own Ringwood Central Activities District.

Media Release: Safety a key priority in Ringwood Station upgrade

Safety has become a key factor in Maroondah City Council’s push to secure a commitment to upgrade Ringwood Station within the next term of government.

Maroondah Councillor and Community Safety Reference Group representative Rob Steane said everyone deserved access to safe, accessible public transport.

“Media reports earlier this year highlighted Ringwood as having one of the highest levels of crimes across the metropolitan railway network. Regardless of whether or not these reports are a true reflection of Ringwood Station, they have resulted in a public perception that Ringwood Station is unsafe,” Cr Steane said.

“People have a right to feel safe when they are using public transport, and at the moment many people are scared to use Ringwood Station,” Cr Steane said.

“An upgrade to Ringwood Station would not only improve the amenities of the Station but it would also go a long way to improving public perceptions of safety,” Cr Steane said.

“The current layout of the station means there are many areas that are not visible from Maroondah Highway and Station Street, especially the ramps linking the platforms,” Cr Steane said.

Maroondah Mayor Alex Makin said he had spoken to many people in the course of the campaign with most commenting on safety concerns.

“Most people have commented on their insecurity when using the station at night. Many choosing to continue onto another station rather than have the worry of being at the station alone,” Cr Makin said.
– MORE –

“The proposed upgrade to the station would open the whole area up to scrutiny and therefore act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour,” Cr Makin said.

“It will also provide a better link to the central retail and business district making the area a safer, more visually attractive and user-friendly public place,” Cr Makin said.

“Securing this funding for an upgrade is an important start to improving Ringwood’s transport interchange and town centre. We will continue to lobby the state political parties on behalf of the Maroondah community for a funding commitment,” Cr Makin concluded.

– ENDS –