Friday, May 31, 2013

federal funding for public transport a must

report from the roundtable - 28 may

At this week's council meeting I moved a motion that Council:
1.    Write to the Federal Opposition Leader, Mr Tony Abbott, with a copy to Tony Smith MP, advocating for Federal funding to be allocated to urban public transport projects.
2.    Advise the Premier of Victoria and Minister for Public Transport of Council’s resolution.

I have been very concerned about comments made by Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, where he said "We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it’s important that we stick to our knitting and the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.” 

As chairperson of the Eastern Transport Coalition, which comprises seven municipalities from Melbourne’s East, (City of Greater Dandenong, City of Knox, City of Manningham, City of Maroondah, City of Monash, City of Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges Council) representing approximately one million residents, I am acutely aware of the importance of federal funding for urban rail projects.

The Eastern Transport Coalition advocates for sustainable and integrated transport services to reduce the level of car dependency to secure the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Melbourne’s outer east and aims to work in partnership with Federal and State Governments to ensure the future sustainability of Eastern Melbourne.

The ETC has over many years advocated for funding of public transport improvements by the Federal Government in partnership with the State Government.

The ETC has welcomed Federal investment in public transport over recent years and is encouraged by the recent release of the Federal budget for 2013/14, with the government committing to support the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel, subject to matching funding from the State.  The Federal opposition however has declared a coalition government would not invest in urban rail projects, which is of great concern.

The government has established Infrastructure Australia to provide advice on strategic projects for the country.

Infrastructure Australia advises governments, investors and infrastructure owners on a wide range of issues. These include:

  • Australia's current and future infrastructure needs
  • Mechanisms for financing infrastructure investments, and
  • Policy, pricing and regulation and their impacts on investment and on the efficiency of the delivery, operation and use of national infrastructure networks.
From their website;
Infrastructure Australia believes that, to maintain the economic success and environmental sustainability of Australia's cities, the time has come for an unprecedented commitment to the creation of world-class public transport in our cities. 

Infrastructure Australia is therefore recommending, for the first time in Australian history, significant Australian Government investment in public transport in our cities.

A number of immediate priorities are identified, alongside a list of future public transport projects which, although still under development, show real potential to transform our cities.

Infrastructure Australia recommends targeted investment in innovative public transport systems which drive productivity and urban renewal in our major cities to maintain their economic success and environmental sustainability.

Melbourne’s East continues to require improvements in public transport such as the extension of heavy rail to Doncaster, extension of heavy rail to Rowville, duplication of single track sections of the Belgrave and Lilydale line, upgrading of the Dandenong rail corridor, removal of at grade level crossings, bus service improvements and other public transport efficiency improvements. Many of the improvements to the rail network in Melbourne rely on the construction of the Melbourne Metro tunnel to build capacity in the network.

Without support from the Federal government, the State government will not be able to deliver these projects for many decades to come.  It is therefore imperative that funding support for public transport is provided at a Federal level to meet community needs, achieve economic success, and ensure ongoing environmental sustainability.

The case for federal funding needs to be made in the strongest possible terms as to why it's so important for Yarra Ranges, let alone the east of Melbourne.

I'm pleased to report the motion was supported unanimously by councillors (note Crs McCarthy and Avery absent).

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