12 March 1991 - Current
Ms WARD (Eltham) (10:52:23) — Acting Speaker Carbines, it is good to see you in the chair this morning because the first thing that I will be talking about regarding the budget will be the fantastic announcement that helps both your electorate and mine, which is the north-east link. There is $110 million in the budget to fast-track the planning process for the north-east link so that we can go through and get all of the environmental surveys and other studies done so that as soon as we do get re-elected in November we can get started on this incredibly important project. It is incredibly important, this project, which will link communities across Melbourne, this project that will help trucks going from Gippsland all the way up into the northern reaches of the state. There are a lot of things that will benefit from the north-east link.
You and I both know, Acting Speaker, that our communities are crying out for a solution to the road challenges that we are currently experiencing. They want a road which will get traffic that does not belong in our communities, that does not live in our communities, that does not work in our communities off their roads so that they can have their local roads back. As we have said many times before, it is about giving local roads back to local people.
What I am disappointed to note is that our opposition does not want to build this road. They do not see it as important. They do not understand how important this road is to our communities. They had no interest in the north when they were in government, those four sad years that they were in government, no interest in the north whatsoever and it is sad to see that they still have no interest in the north. I would like to read from a newspaper article from the Manningham Leader of 13 April which talks about the north-east link. The Leader of the Opposition is quoted as saying that their proposal, along with their bizarre intersection removal plans in Heidelberg, could rapidly speed up eastbound freeway traffic. As you and I both know, Acting Speaker, that would just turn Rosanna Road into even more of a freeway. But the Leader of the Opposition is quoted as saying:
… it is the Liberal Party's policy to build the east–west link, not the north-east link.
This is just crazy. It is the craziest policy position I have ever seen. Clearly they have no idea what is important to people in the north-east and the needs of people in the north-east. It is just ridiculous. Why would you not want to support a project that matters so much to the people who live in our community? Why would you not listen to what people want?
Acting Speaker, your experience would be exactly the same as mine, which is that people are not saying, 'Oh no, wait, we don't want you to build it yet. Can you please do all this other stuff? Don't build this for a decade or two or more. Please, we could wait 20 more years for this road'. That is not what they are saying. What they are saying is that they want it built now. They would love it to have been built yesterday.
It is only the Andrews government that will build this road. Make no mistake: the missing link will not be built by the opposition. It will only be built by an Andrews government. Why would you not want to support a road project that takes between 11 000 and 14 000 vehicles a day off Fitzsimons Lane? Why would you not want those vehicles off Fitzsimons Lane? Why would you not see that as a priority? Why would you not want to create 10 300 new jobs? Why would you not want that investment in our economy? Why would you not want that investment in the communities of the north-east? Why would you not want to support a project that returns $1.30 for every taxpayer dollar spent? When you look wider for the economic benefits it actually goes to $1.40 in benefits to the Victorian community — $1.40 for every taxpayer dollar spent. Why would you not want to support this project? There will be $250 million in economic value each year from better business connectivity when the north-east link is built — $250 million a year when this road is built.
Acting Speaker, you and I both know that we need to do a lot of things to address traffic throughout the city of Melbourne and it is not just about building the north-east link. A number of things have to happen in the meantime. This is why we have put money into fixing Fitzsimons Lane. We will redo the intersections and we will get rid of the bus lanes between Porter and Foote streets and we will make the traffic flow — it is good to see the Minister for Roads and Road Safety here — along Fitzsimons Lane better. It will be improved while we get about the business of building the north-east link, that desperately needed missing link.
We have also put money in for traffic lights at Leane Drive and Main Road, and I thank the Minister for Roads and Road Safety for coming out to visit my community and this intersection and having a look at the effect that it will have once it is put in. This is something that local residents have wanted for some time. Admittedly — the Minister for Roads and Road Safety will agree — it took a little while for VicRoads to come out and have a look and see how they could actually make that stretch of road better and safer, and I thank VicRoads for doing that.
I also think the minister for his investment in my community and for addressing the concerns that my community had around that intersection. I am pleased to share with the minister that I rang a local resident near Leane Drive and let her know of the news that we would be getting traffic lights there and she said to me, 'I could give you a hug. I am so happy I am almost in tears. I want to give you a hug. This news is just fantastic'. I accept that the hug was for me and not for you, Minister, and I apologise for not sharing the love with you. But she was ecstatic, as has been every other resident I have spoken to about this intersection. They are very happy, although I will flag with you, Minister, that they do want cars travelling a bit slower on Leane Drive. We will have a conversation with Nillumbik council about that.
Mr Donnellan — It's the hill.
Ms WARD — That is exactly right, it is the hill.
I also want to thank local residents John Fecondo and Stijn Liem for their support and advocacy in getting traffic lights for this intersection. These people were fantastic. Stijn is a student at St Helena Secondary College. He came out, he doorknocked local residents with me and we got surveys together so that we could tell VicRoads about the importance of this intersection and get them to do the necessary work to understand how to improve connectivity and safety on that stretch of road in my community.
There is also funding for studies to work out how to improve the connectivity, safety and thoroughfare of the Wallowa Road and Ryans Road intersection as well as the Civic Drive roundabout.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Carbines) — Order! The member for Eltham will have the call when the take-note motion resumes. The time has come for me to interrupt business under sessional orders for questions without notice and ministers statements.
Business interrupted under sessional orders.