Focus now shifts to November 29, 2014
With Tony Abbott's Public Transport adverse policy costings released yesterday, there's no point in hoping for a brain fart on the same scale as Kevin Rudd's last week on the Minister for Cities. The Federal Government will continue to dangle the purse strings and it will be up to the states to put the right infrastructure projects up for Federal funding.
Despite the hopelessness of the Federal campaigns and the almost foregone conclusion which could have been traced back to when Rudd knifed Gillard, at the state level we are actually seeing some major policy differentiation.
It's no secret, I - and no doubt many other editors and contributors on Urban Melbourne - applaud the current Spring Street government's planning Matthew Guy for making his mark on Victoria's planning regime. Where some media outlets and opposing politicians have dubbed him unfairly Mr Skyscraper, I believe the single greatest achievement has been to reconfigure Victoria's planning regime to give local councils - the level of government which can best engage with the community - more control over corridors where density can increase. This will allow councils to clearly delineate "go" and "no go" development zones giving the community, architects, developers and new residents who will buy in to these buildings certainty.
I challenge the ALP or Greens to come up with a better way of ensuring planning surety and if they can't, don't change it if the Government changes at the next State election.
Focus now needs to shift toward clearing the arterial roads where the new "go" development zones reside and coming up with innovative ways to support localised non-motorised activity regardless if the suburb is Pakenham, Thornbury, Windsor or Altona. The current Spring Street Government failed when they reversed the previous Bracks/Brumby government's clearways programme and furthermore they are failing by ramming the East-West project through an area which doesn't need the current traffic sewer being shifted westward, it needs alternative transport modes to reduce the amount of cars traveling through the inner-city.
I will always favour a major public transport project over a freeway project, but that's not to say I don't believe the Melbourne Metro project doesn't need the same public scrutiny I and many others all over the web are calling for on the East-West Project. The right thing to do is get both projects to a point where a proper comparison can be made - with all the costs, benefits and assumptions; social, economic and environmental - made public and thrown open for debate and only then choose to proceed with the project which will benefit Melbourne & Victoria the most.
Unfortunately the Federal Coalition have promised to cut $75 million in funds already allocated from the most recent Federal budget for Melbourne Metro; money that would have been set aside to get the project to the point where conceivably a proper project comparison with East-West made.
The only thing to do now is advocate for the Senate to make any documentation Infrastructure Australia has on East-West public; this is possible as Josh Gordon wrote yesterday in the The Age. I implore the ALP, Greens, Liberal Party members who wish to exercise their jealously-guarded conscience votes and any independent or minor party who recognises the public have a right to know if a project which has been rammed through by the Victorian State Government, now wanting Federal money, is truly the right one to pick.
Go hard, very hard.