8 July 2014

Council last night agreed to a Greens motion moved by Cr Rohan Leppert insisting that the sham East West Link project be put to an election, and that no contracts be signed before then.

In a tight 6 to 5 vote (Greens Crs Leppert and Oke, ALP Crs Foster and Watts and 2 independent Crs Wood and Mayne voting for, and the Lord Mayor, 3 of his team Crs Riley, Louey and Pinder-Mortimer, and Liberal Cr Ong voting against), the Council has taken its strongest position so far this term.

The Council has participated fully in the formal consultation and planning processes for the East West Link and its Comprehensive Impact Statement, and the Assessment Panel agreed with the majority of the Council’s most significant submissions, including that part B of the East West Link (the elevated freeway down the Moonee Ponds Creek corridor) be set aside as it is unnecessary, or at least to explore alternative routes which are not “physically and socially unacceptable.”

The Planning Minister Matthew Guy, however, ignored this most significant of the Assessment Committee’s recommendations, and approved the Moonee Ponds Creek section of the East West Link (though subject to further secretive planning processes to be led by the Linking Melbourne Authority without consultation).

The interface between the East West Link and both CityLink and Flemington Rd, which will require the destruction of parts of Royal Park no matter how sensitively the interchanges are planned, will also be subject to further secretive planning processes.

In moving the motion, Greens Cr Rohan Leppert said that the Minister’s decision created even more uncertainties for the community, and that his decision to ignore the Assessment Committee has “created an even bigger crisis for the communities of Kensington, North Melbourne and Parkville”.

Cr Leppert said that the purpose of the motion was that “it is time for the City of Melbourne to say ‘enough!'” and to respond to the community’s calls for the Council to take a strong stand on the matter at long last.

In opposing the motion, the Lord Mayor said that there was no proof that the community opposed the East West Link, and cited Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of the project as being ‘meritorious’ and an important project for Melbourne.

After a lively 40 minutes, the motion passed by 1 vote, and Council’s all purpose ‘Future Melbourne Committee’ resolved:

That the Future Melbourne Committee:

1.    notes the release on 30 June 2014 of the Assessment Committee’s report on the East West Link Comprehensive Impact Statement and the Minister’s decision to approve the East West Link subject to conditions;

2.    notes that the most significant recommendation of the Assessment Committee agreed with the City of Melbourne’s submission to set aside stage 1B of the project or, if it is to proceed, to spare the western bank of Moonee Ponds Creek and delete the Arden Street ramps, but that the Minister rejected this recommendation;

3.    notes also that the Minister has approved a new interchange between the East West Link and Flemington Rd, and flyovers connecting the East West Link to CityLink at Ross Straw Field, subject to further planning;

4.    reaffirms the strong opposition of the City of Melbourne to the destruction of Moonee Ponds Creek and parts of the Kensington community by Stage 1B of the East West Link;

5.    objects to the serious lack of clarity brought about by the Minister’s decision to approve two East West Link interchanges ‘subject to further planning’, but which will in any event require the net loss of parkland in Royal Park;

6.    strongly criticizes the decision of the State Government to proceed with the East West Link in a way which denies the scientific and legal assessment processes and the professional recommendations of the Assessment Committee, and which ignores the clear will of the community;

7.    insists that any contracts to build the East West Link not be let until the people have had the opportunity to pass judgment at the general election in four months’ time;

8.    requests the CEO to send a copy of this resolution to the leaders of all parties represented in the Victorian Parliament;

9.    requests the CEO to immediately request of the Linking Melbourne Authority that the City of Melbourne be consulted in the drafting of the Development Plans referred to in the conditions of the Minister’s approval; and

10.  requests management to report to a public meeting of this Committee as soon as reasonably manageable (a) details of the extent to which the City of Melbourne’s submission on the CIS was taken up by the Assessment Panel and the Minister, and the impact of the Minister’s decision on the City of Melbourne, and (b) an explanation of the opportunities by which the City of Melbourne can participate in and influence the project as per the conditions of the Minister’s approval.

The audio of the debate can be found here.