Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Labor can't have it both ways on East West Link

The East-West Link is an $8bn proposal to build a major highway linking the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road. Part of this extension will be a tunnel under Royal Park which will seriously undermine the amenity of the park, affect the zoo and create traffic problems in Moreland and surrounds. In addition the supposed benefits of the link are not expected to be sustained past twelve years. Despite these factors, and polling showing that the community does not support the building of this road, the Napthine government seems determined to push on with the project.

The Labor opposition, while ostensibly opposing the road, has said that it will honour any signed contracts. This is despite the tenders being received before the consultation period and various other issues surrounding the issue of these contracts.

On 30 March there was a rally against the East-West Link in Brunswick.

Rally against the East West Link
Approximately one thousand people marched up Sydney Road in Brunswick to oppose the project, demonstrating that there is significant community opposition to it. The march concluded at Warr Park, where several speakers took the stage.

East West Link protest marching up Sydney Road in Brunswick
The speakers included the local ALP member, Jane Garrett. In her speech, Garrett only obliquely referenced the East-West link, preferring instead to focus on the Abbott government's antipathy towards public transport.

Jane Garrett addresses the rally at Warr Park after the march

While this is worthy of criticism, the focus on the Abbott Government's failings was deliberately evasive - a vain attempt by Garrett to deflect from the ALP's equivocation on the East-West Link. Garrett was duly booed off to chants of "rip up the contracts".

Rally at Warr Park after the march
The ALP wants to have a bob each way - trying to gather votes in marginal Outer Eastern seats while simultaneously trying to keep the voters of the Inner North on side.

The ALP must make a choice on this issue or Garrett will not only be booed of the stage at a protest, she will be booed out of the seat of Brunswick by the electorate and replaced by the Greens.

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