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Tram bridge is alive and well

01 Nov 2018

Tram bridge is alive and well Image

It’s clear that the Yarra’s Edge tram bridge proposal is not going to figure as a state election issue, because no major party is prepared to sink the concept.

Some 1457 Yarra’s Edge voters are central to the outcome of the November 24 election in the seat of Albert Park, but look like being denied any point of difference on this issue.

The Liberal Party says it doesn’t like it, but stops short of ruling it out. The Labor Party candidate didn’t even turn up to talk about it at an October 24 forum in Docklands.

Greens candidate for Melbourne Ellen Sandell wants other alternatives looked at but her Albert Park candidate colleague, Ogy Simic, was, like Labor’s Martin Foley, also absent.

The most joy given to the opponents of the scheme came from Reason Party leader Fiona Patten who said she was “all for the immersed tube” idea.

“I’m a believing in ‘buy it nice, or buy it twice’,” she declared, saying any tram crossing from the CBD to Fishermans Bend needed to be done properly.

The major parties have both pledged money to examine tram route options before a final decision is taken.

The forum was hosted by We Live Here, the Docklands-based lobby group which has grown from residential reaction to short-stay letting in apartments. The night at Library at The Dock was moderated by Yarra Residents Action Group chair Keith Sutherland.

Not surprisingly, candidates were also quizzed on their views on short-stay letting in residential apartments.

Again, on this issue, The Greens and Reason Party presented the most palatable views. The Greens, in particular, have “adopted” a strata-friendly approach, with the launch of a “Liveable Apartments” policy. On short-stays, The Greens are talking about regulation as the solution rather than empowering owners’ corporations to decide the issue.

Ms Patten said: “We can’t take it back but we can work towards fixing it.”

Labor candidate for Melbourne Jennifer Kanis said she understood residents’ frustration that nothing had really been done about the issue since she pledged to take action if re-elected to Parliament.

She pointed out that, having lost the seat in 2014, there was little she could do outside of Parliament. Her theme of the night was to remind locals that only a local member from the winning party could advance local issues.

“Decisions are made by those who are inside the room,” she said. “And, if you’re not in the room, you’re not in the room.”

She urged voters to “make Melbourne matter”.

Liberal planning and public transport shadow minister David Davis attended the forum for a short time.

As well as the tram bridge and short-stays, the two other major themes of the evening were the West Gate Tunnel and planning inadequacies.

Again, Ms Kanis had the most difficult position on the West Gate Tunnel considering she represents the party responsible for the road project that will dump thousands of more vehicles into Docklands every day.

“It’s already underway,” she said. “It can’t be stopped.”

“But I will be a dedicated, persistent and consistent voice for this community.”

In the absence of a Liberal candidate for Melbourne, Albert Park Liberal candidate Andrew Bond said a future Liberal government would not “rip up the contract”.

Ms Patten said the politicisation of public infrastructure projects had to stop. “It does no good for any of us,” she said. “Bipartisan planning should sit outside politics.”

On planning generally, the candidates had diverging views.

Ms Patten said the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) needed reform.

“It’s the answer to everything and the solution to nothing,” she said. “VCAT can’t cope.”

Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said her party would restore third-party appeal rights to capital city zone residents. Ms Kanis suggested that Labor’s appointment of the City of Melbourne as a referral authority was as good as granting locals third-party appeal rights.

“Residents should, and do, have a voice,” she said.

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