19 March 2019
I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, who I note is at the table this evening.
The action I seek is a written explanation as to why the government-appointed community reference groups for both the Mentone and Cheltenham level crossing removal works were not convened or consulted prior to the minister unveiling the final project designs and awarding project contracts.
The minister’s announcement last week has raised more questions for my community than it has answered.
Some of the questions my community seeks answers to include why were the Friends of Mentone Station and Gardens not consulted about the final designs, and why have they not been briefed on this announcement?
Why were local councils not briefed on these final designs before they were released?
Will there be additional car parks built at both stations to cater for our increasing population?
Has Heritage Victoria been consulted about and agreed to these final designs for the Mentone and Cheltenham stations, and if not, how can the government claim that they are in fact final designs?
How does the government propose to preserve the heritage features of Cheltenham station?
With reference to the government’s Suburban Rail Loop, will there be a duplication of construction works if grade separation works now proceed at Cheltenham?
And what guarantee can the government give that their announced project time frame is accurate, and has a time frame requirement been built into the contracts awarded?
These community reference groups were intended to provide a local perspective, particularly in relation to project design and the minimisation of construction impacts on local communities, yet both community reference groups have been ignored.
Last week I spoke with the president of the Friends of Mentone Station and Gardens, Dorothy Booth.
For 17 years Dorothy and her volunteer team have advocated and cared for the heritage-listed Mentone station. It is unfathomable that Dorothy and her team of volunteers have had no input into the final designs.
Together with my community, I want these projects to proceed.
In fact many residents within the Sandringham district would like to see the level crossing removal works be expanded to include Highett, Sandringham and Hampton stations.
It is important to get major projects right, and that means fair dinkum consultation with local community is absolutely necessary.
That is why this coming Friday morning the shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure, David Davis, and I will be at the Cheltenham and Mentone stations.
Together we will do what the government has to this point fundamentally failed to do—that is, give local residents a fair dinkum opportunity to have their say on this major project that will significantly impact themselves and their local communities.