There is a joke in Australia that there will be a high-speed rail service linking the major cities on the Eastern seaboard that will run about once in every three years — whenever there is an election looming. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, like the previous Labor government, again floated the idea.
East West Link
Many Victorians had hoped the election of a state Labor government signaled an end to the East West Link and the dawn of a new age of public transport projects, with the Andrews government committing to start building the $11 billion Metro Rail Project in 2018. Now, federal Liberal MPs from Melbourne’s outer east are trying to resuscitate the East West Link. On August 8 they held a small rally with the demand “Build the Link”.
Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton spoke to Dave Holmes about her work as an elected socialist local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne. * * * You were elected to the Moreland City Council for Socialist Alliance in October 2012. Many of the themes and issues raised in your campaign struck a chord with a wide range of people. There was also a fair bit of accident and luck: you headed up a ballot with 24 names on it and the ALP ticket was split.
"No West Connex: Public transport is the answer," was the theme of a public forum sponsored by Green Left Weekly on March 17 at the Sydney CBD Resistance Centre. Up to 30 people gathered to hear Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance councillor from Moreland, Melbourne, and Chris Elenor, No WestCONnex activist, discuss issues surrounding the huge toll road projects being pushed in Australia's major cities.
Days before the Victorian elections on November 29, the Labor opposition promised to scrap the East West Link, a massive road project in Melbourne with an estimated cost of $18 billion. On the back of a large community campaign to stop the project, this position helped Labor win the election. The history of the campaign to stop the tunnel provides lessons on how the community can successfully beat the power of corporations and governments.
Five hundred people rallied in Melbourne on November 15 to protest against the Coalition government's proposed East West toll road. The rally had three main demands: scrap the East West Link, rip up the contracts and invest in public transport. Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Pascoe Vale in the Victorian election, Sean Brocklehurst, gave this speech to the rally. * * * My name is Sean Brocklehurst. I am a candidate for the seat of Pascoe Vale. I am also an activist with Moreland Community Against the Tunnel. We are against this tunnel.
Sean Brocklehurst is running as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the November 29 Victorian election. This is a speech he gave at the election launch on September 20. *** We are here because we want to see change in Victoria. We want to see community need put before corporate greed. Victoria is going in the wrong direction. It is being run by and for the corporate elite and not in the interests of ordinary people.
The Ron Tandberg cartoon in the Age on September 24 sums up what a rort the East West Link is. In it, one person asks someone from the East West Connect consortium: “Are you concerned that Labor might stop the project?” They answer: “Either way we'll make a killing.” The cartoon is referring to the announcement by Labor opposition leader Daniel Andrews on September 11 that Labor would not build the East West Link if the Moreland and Yarra councils win legal action against the project in December.
The Herald Sun has launched a vitriolic campaign against two councils in Melbourne for their opposition to the Victorian government’s $15 billion East West Link toll road project. In an appalling lack of sensitivity, the paper has also sought to use the rape and murder of journalist Jill Meagher in defence of the paper’s pro-corporate and road-building agenda.
The Coalition government in Victoria has disregarded public opposition and transparency and named a Lend Lease consortium to carry out phase one of the $6-8 billion East West Link toll road.