Drivers on Sydney’s proposed WestConnex motorway will pay a toll for almost 50 years, according to documents released to state parliament last week. Tolls will also be introduced to existing free motorways and extended on those due to expire. The government’s plans were revealed when boxes of documents relating plans to build the WestConnex motorway were delivered to New South Wales Parliament House last week at the request of the NSW Greens Roads and Ports spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi.
About 140 people attended Manningham City Council’s forum on February 20 to hear speakers discuss the case for a railway line to Doncaster, Victoria. Doncaster Rail has been promised since the late 1890s and Manningham City, comprising 10 suburbs and only 12 kilometres from the CBD, is the only Melbourne municipality without a railway line even though it is a rapidly growing area. At the 2011 Census, Manningham had a population of 111,300.
The Rail Revival Alliance is a group formed in response to the Victorian coalition government’s Rail Revival feasibility study into returning passenger trains between Geelong, Ballarat, and Bendigo via Meredith and Newstead. After being let down by the previous state Labor government, the group is now determined to hold the coalition state government to their policy.
Paul Mees, well known to many Victorians, was an academic specialising in urban planning and public transport. He was an associate professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. He died of cancer on June 19. Mees was an indefatigable campaigner for sustainable public transport. One of his last public appearances was in a video shown at the launch of the Yarra City Council’s “Trains Not Toll Roads” campaign, just days before his death.
For many years the Manningham council in Melbourne’s northeast, which consists of 10 suburbs, the largest being Doncaster and Templestowe, has been advocating for some form of mass rail transport. Manningham is the only Melbourne metropolitan municipality without train or tram services. At the 2011 census, Manningham had a population of 111,300 people, 41% of whom are classified as low-income earners — a higher percentage than Melbourne’s average.
A global survey of 27 of the most important cities in the world has ranked Sydney as fourth-worst for public transport. Sydneysiders also pay more for public transport than anywhere else. The study was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers. If this was not bad enough, the situation is set to worsen. The November 16 Sydney Morning Herald said a high-level RailCorp document outlined another 690 jobs to be cut in the train sector.
With impeccable smiling customer service staff motioning to myki readers and swarms of grinning, armed, uniformed officers pursuing passengers for a chat, the Victorian Liberal government hopes to win support for its public transport agenda. Public Transport Victoria stopped selling weekly, monthly and yearly Metcards on July 2. More than 80% of Metcard machines have been removed from train stations. The expensive and unpopular myki system will soon take over.
Fremantle in Western Australia is emerging as a key battleground between a Liberal-National state government committed to building freeways at any cost and a community that wants to see better public transport and an expansion of rail freight. Container movements at Fremantle Port are predicted to double by 2020, yet the percentage being carried to port by train has declined from 17% in 2007 to 11% in this year. It is predicted to dwindle to 8.5% by next year.
In the following article Margarita Windisch explains why she is running as Socialist Alliance candidate for Footscray in the November 27 Victorian election. Socialist Alliance’s other candidates are Mitch Cherry for Bellarine, Trent Hawkins for Brunswick and Ron Guy for Melton. * * * I moved to Australia from Austria in the late ’80s and currently teach welfare work at Victoria University TAFE in Footscray. There I have had firsthand experience of the Brumby government’s misguided “skills reform” agenda for the sector.
There is something rotten in the state of Victoria. The legacy of secrecy in government reached a high point under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government in the 1990s. It continued under the Bracks Labor government and the current John Brumby Labor government. The main reason for this was widespread privatisation and the policy of funding infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs) — a policy begun by the Kennett government and continued by Labor.