Gridlock is THE issue in Docklands

Traffic management is emerging as the major state election issue for Docklanders.

At a “town hall-style” meet the candidates forum at Harbour Kitchen on October 21, most resident concern centred around the increasing difficulty of getting in and out of Docklands by car.

Victorians go to the polls on November 27 and the evening was organised by Docklands News to inform Docklanders on the policy positions of the major parties.

Other major issues are:

The Port of Melbourne’s proposed low rail bridge in front of the Bolte Bridge;

Amenity issues caused by serviced apartments; and

Lack of community input into planning issues.

The meeting heard that at certain times of the day, it can take half an hour to move a few hundred metres down Bourke St to Harbour Esplanade.

And with more than 10,000 extra residents and 20,000 workers expected in the suburb within the next decade, Docklanders are wondering how bad it will become.

“People are walking away from apartments and walking away from purchasing,” resident Peter Henderson said.

“People can’t build viable businesses where you’ve got a situation where you can’t get into or out of this place,” Mr Henderson said.  “If you don’t do something about it, this area will become a white elephant.”

Other residents said they were having trouble visualising the effect of this population increase.

Greens candidate Brian Walters said: “This is a simple question of physics.  You can’t go forever without having, not only gridlock, but super-gridlock.”

Mr Walters said better public transport was the answer.  “We will not remove gridlock by building more freeways.  We have a public transport system which is not working and is underutilised,” he said.

The Member for Melbourne, Labor candidate Bronwyn Pike, defended the Government’s record in servicing Docklands by public transport.

“Trams are now running every five minutes in Collins St,” Ms Pike said.

Liberal candidate Luke Martin said Labor and the Greens were avoiding the issue and stated that every Docklander had a right to own and drive a car if they wanted to.

“The people of Docklands have been let down by poor planning and co-ordination by VicUrban, the City of Melbourne and the State Government.  Docklands needs a better transport plan,” Mr Martin said.

On the low rail bridge issue, all three candidates said they opposed the proposal.  However, Ms Pike said her view was a personal one and she could not speak officially for the relevant minister.

On the serviced apartment issue, Ms Pike said she sympathised with residents who were frustrated by short-term rentals.  But she said a balance needed to be struck between the rights of owners to rent their properties and what was best for the broader community.

“In the end, do we want a government to be able to tell people who own property what they can do with it?” she asked.

Mr Walters claimed it would be simple to stamp out serviced apartments. “It (short-term renting) undermines community to have people coming and going with no commitment to the place,” Mr Walters said.