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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6556


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (09:31): Whilst a struggling Melbourne has benefited from thoughtful planning, there remain 172 level crossings within the metropolitan area, in comparison with only eight in Sydney. Many of these crossings are positioned on, or adjacent to, Melbourne's busiest roads and major arterials. The Burke Road intersection and railway crossing is but one significant example in my electorate.

Railway crossings cause substantial delays to motorists, road based freight and public transport, whilst imposing capacity constraints on rail based public transport. Along the Dandenong rail corridor, hands down the single largest issue facing constituents on a daily basis is the need to remove level crossings and the associated congestion. It influences key decisions: where people will shop and send their children to school, and how they will access work. I have heard this directly from my constituents, through my surveys; through my regular mobile office meetings; at train stations, and in Koornang Road, Carnegie; through the community forum I held at Carnegie Community Centre; through telephone calls to my office; and by simply knocking on doors in the local area to say hello. The traders agree. Both the Murrumbeena Village Traders Association and the Carnegie Traders Association know that the railway crossings hurt business and impact the amenity of the local community.

The 2012 RACV Redspot survey ranked three of Higgins's level crossings in Victoria's top 10 worst congestion sites: Murrumbeena Road, Murrumbeena, is No. 1; Koornang Road, Carnegie, is No. 4; and Burke Road, Glen Iris, is No. 5. Since 2011, the Victorian government has been unsuccessful in seeking federal government support via Infrastructure Australia and the Nation Building Program for Commonwealth funding to augment the more than $400 million it has already committed to level crossing removals.

I congratulate my state colleagues for focusing on this issue. In their three years of government, they will have removed five level crossings. In the previous state Labor government, over 11 years they removed only three level crossings.

There is broad agreement as to the nature of the problem and the need for action. How these projects are funded remains less clear. The magnitude, the costs and the potential productivity dividends require federal intervention. I am pleased to present this petition of more than 1,151 signatures which draws to the attention of the House the severe congestion caused by the regular closure of the level crossings along the Dandenong rail line. I ask the parliament to give greater priority to their removal. I table the petition.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of the residents of Melbourne draws to the attention of the House the severe congestion caused by regular closure of the level crossings along the Dandenong Rail Line.

In particular we note:

1. The substantial congestion of pedestrian, car and road freight traffic caused by constant level crossing closures during peak train times.

2. The negative impact for local business and community life as a result of level crossing related traffic congestion.

3. The consequent stifling of economic growth and loss of productivity within the Dandenong Rail Line catchment area, which currently accounts for approximately half of Melbourne's GDP or 9% of national GDP.

4. The failure of the Commonwealth Government to provide any funding, as per the Victorian Government's 2011 Infrastructure Australian Bid, to address level crossings within the 2012 Commonwealth Budget.

We therefore ask the House to prioritise the funding for the removal of the level crossings on the Dandenong Rail Lines through road/rail grade separation of level crossings at Koornang Road, Carnegie, Murrumbeena Road, Murrumbeena and Poath Road, Murrumbeena commencing with the 2013 Commonwealth Budget and subsequently via the next Nation Building Program.

from 1,151 citizens

Petition received.