The Eddington report commissioned by the State Labor Government has proposed the biggest capital expenditure program in Australian history at $18 billion. The report has recommended that more than half of this money should go to the building of a tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway to Melbourne’s western suburbs.
The Socialist Party is totally opposed to this plan. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly the tunnel will not ease congestion or solve Melbourne’s transport problems. Secondly the money should be spent on public transport as an alternative to cars.
Contrary to what the State Government has been telling people, this tunnel will not ease traffic congestion or make it quicker to get into the city. Most figures show that over 85 percent of traffic is not traveling from the east-west through the city. The majority of people are actually going into the city for work. This tunnel is not about making the lives of ordinary people easier it is about serving the needs of the big transport companies.
It is the State Labor Government backed by the Federal Government who are pushing for this tunnel. At the same time we have Federal Labor Ministers like Lindsay Tanner and State Labor Ministers like Dick Wynne who are claiming they oppose the plan.
There is also a raft of Labor candidates in the upcoming Council Elections on November 29 who are opportunistically saying they also oppose the tunnel. These people can not have it both ways. While Tanner says he opposes the tunnel, as Finance Minister he will be the one signing the cheque for the Federal Government contribution to the tunnel!
You can not be a member of a party which consistently prioritises roads above public transport and then claim to be an environmentalist when your seat is at stake. The Socialist Party urges people to turn the November Council elections into a referendum on the tunnel. Labor need to be punished for their lies and for putting big business ahead or ordinary people.
The Victorian road freight industry is actually very big business. It contributes 14.5 percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. This is expected to grow significantly in Victoria, especially after the bay has been dredged and bigger ships with more containers start coming into the Melbourne docks.
It is estimated that by 2031 the Port of Melbourne will be handling about 8 million containers a year, a fourfold increase from this year!
With such a big increase the transport companies need quicker and easier ways to move their goods. A tunnel linking Melbourne’s west to the east would mean a much more profitable option for the trucking companies wanting to move stock into the eastern suburbs. Big business profits is at the heart of the issue not traffic congestion or the environment. We need to move towards moving this stock by rail instead of road.
To top it off this road will be tolled and the costs will be out of reach for many anyway. In a time of global warming and environmental crisis it is crazy to be pumping such large amounts of money into roads when public transport is lacking in most suburbs.
Public transport creates more jobs and is better for the environment. With a fraction of the $18 billion we could revolutionise public transport therefore eliminating the need for such reliance on cars.
The Socialist Party supports ALL Melbourne suburbs having access to a regular and integrated public transport system. This is the only solution to solving Melbourne’s transport problems and reducing the effects that cars have on our environment.
It is clear that Labor can not be trusted to deliver decent public transport in this city. On that basis the only way we will achieve this is by organising an active campaign against the tunnel and for free public transport.