No tram funding in budget
Despite a huge injection into a range of major transport and infrastructure projects in the state government’s recent 2020/21 budget, public transport to Fishermans Bend missed out.
While the impacts of COVID-19 to the state’s economy will see Victoria in debt for years to come, the state budget on November 24 saw a swathe of major projects given funding as the state government chooses to invest in productivity in response to the downturn.
But despite the 2019/20 state budget allocating $5 million over two years for a business case to explore options for a tram route linking the city to Fishermans Bend by 2025, many had hoped the project might be brought forward in this budget.
The original Fishermans Bend plans, which are in the planning scheme, still have a new tram bridge linking Collins St in Docklands to Yarra’s Edge over the river despite fierce opposition from local residents and many businesses.
But with the state’s increasing debt issues escalating even further due to the impacts of coronavirus, Docklands News reported in September that all tram route options were understood to be back on the table.
While public transport will have to wait another year, a $2 billion “Breakthrough Victoria Fund” was included in this year’s budget, of which Fishermans Bend’s employment and innovation precinct will be a beneficiary of.
The University of Melbourne has purchased land in the heart of the employment precinct for a new engineering and design campus which it expects to open in 2025. RMIT is having similar conversations about a campus of its own.
With the campus establishing in the heart of Fishermans Bend it will be surrounded by the likes of Boeing, the Australian Department of Defence’s Science and Technology labs and the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB). The Breakthrough Victoria Fund is expected to aid in bolstering connections in the precinct to leverage it as a world-class employment and innovation cluster focussed largely on advanced manufacturing.
“This fund gives our research and development sector the certainty they need to keep striving for the next discovery and the next innovation that will change lives, save lives and drive our economy,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on November 26.
But Fishermans Bend Business Forum (FBBF) executive officer David Weston said the impacts of COVID-19 and the state government’s delays to delivering public transport meant the assumptions of its original plans should be revised.
With the state government still forecasting 80,000 residents and 80,000 workers to Fishermans Bend by 2050, Mr Weston said these forecasts were becoming increasing unrealistic.
The state budget also included $66.1 million for the continued planning and purchasing of land for new community hospitals, one of which will be in Fishermans Bend.