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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1483


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (19:57): I rise this evening to discuss a matter of increasing importance to those living in Australia's major cities such as Melbourne, and that is the matter of planning infrastructure for growing populations. Who is responsible for planning our cities? What criteria are being applied? How can Commonwealth funding contribute to sensible and sustainable planning for Melbourne? These questions are relevant because, as I am advised, during the coming month Infrastructure Australia will recommend to the government whether funding should be provided for various infrastructure proposals, including proposals by the Victorian state government.

I am concerned that funding from the Commonwealth to Victoria should best meet the needs of Victorians, and particularly the needs of those in the electorate of Melbourne. Without sensible and integrated planning we risk wasting millions of dollars on massive projects that serve only the needs of a few. The electorate of Melbourne is the heart of Victoria's economic and transport systems and is home to Australia's busiest container port. The Victorian government has applied for funding for road and rail links to connect the Melbourne electorate with its metropolitan regional limbs and branches.

Included in the wish list of the Victorian government is $30 million for planning an east-west road tunnel and $130 million for part of a metro rail tunnel. I have written to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister Albanese, to urge him not to provide any funding for the proposal for an east-west road link by the Victorian government and to urge him to ask the Baillieu government to prioritise submissions consistent with national aims to transition our cities to greater efficiency and sustainability.

The east-west road tunnel has been widely criticised for a number of reasons, not least that the majority of road traffic—about 60 per cent—travels into or out of the city of Melbourne and congestion would not be alleviated by the construction of a cross-city tunnel. I have consistently called for projects such as the Doncaster rail line to be given priority to improve efficiency and productivity. We also know that in excess of 60,000 vehicles travel along the Eastern Freeway in the morning peak period without a rail alternative. I have urged the minister to discuss with the Victorian government the need to prioritise public transport alternatives such as rail from my electorate to Doncaster and better rail infrastructure for moving freight from the Port of Melbourne.

As the population of cities like Melbourne increases, we will require more infrastructure—schools, medical clinics, aged-care facilities, affordable housing, trains and trams, digital technology and open space. In allocating funding to priority infrastructure, we must be sure that transport proposals are synchronised with planning and other infrastructure provision. We must ensure that essential infrastructure and basic services are provided before buildings go up and people move in. Building without such planning has resulted in communities like Docklands, which is without a school, without a park and without reliable access to television. If you, Mr Speaker, were to look at buying a flat in Docklands you would be well advised to check which side of the building it is on first because, believe it or not, in the middle of Melbourne's CBD you can find yourself without TV reception.

I look forward to the forthcoming national urban policy, which, according to answers given to Senator Scott Ludlam recently, has an emphasis on lower emissions and sustainability and will inform Infrastructure Australia's recommendations and the decision of the minister. We urgently need a new approach to sustainable and integrated planning.

House adjourned at 20 : 00