Minister contradicts himself, bulldozes ahead

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By Andrew Herington

The Napthine Government has rushed into two new decisions in its haste to get the East-West Link contracts signed before the election.

Most significantly, the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy has gazetted the "Project Area" under section 93 of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act. This clears the path for him to now issue Notices of Intention to Acquire to residents, triggering the acquisition of homes by October.

This action totally contradicts his previous commitments. In Guy’s original response to the Assessment Committee recommendations the Minister included these concessions:

Impacted Properties

46. I have included as a condition of my approval decision a requirement that the Development Plans be accompanied by a report prepared to my satisfaction which identifies properties that are materially impacted by any elevated structures shown on the Development Plans (the Property Impact Report) in consideration of the fact that the final design for these structures has not been resolved.

47. This will allow further consideration of whether any adjustments should be made to the land identified in Figure 1 of the Incorporated Document forming part of Planning Scheme Amendment GC2 and whether there is a need for Linking Melbourne Authority to acquire additional properties within or immediately adjacent to that land. The Property Impact Report will also consider whether any further mitigation measures are required to ameliorate significant impacts on affected properties.

Minister Guy has blatantly broken each of these commitments. There has been no redesign and no Development Plans and no Property Impact Report. He has adopted the LMA’s original "proposed project boundary" without resolving any of the numerous submissions for the variation of the official project area.

The Assessment Committee recommendation against the acquisition of properties in Bendigo St and urged the redesign of the western portal has been totally ignored. Similarly the Committee recommendation against the "sidetrack" north of Alexandra Parade and the whole of Part B have been ignored.

Despite accepting the Assessment Committee’s recommendation that Elliot Avenue be excluded – the area remains in the project area and the impacts above ground to 200 metres east of Elliot Avenue. Clearly large scale cut and cover is still on the agenda and those who think Royal Park has been saved have been badly misled.

The second significant development is that the Linking Melbourne Authority has brought forward the date for "best and final offer" from the two remaining consortia to next Friday 8 August.

An industry newsletter has reported the government had originally planned on selecting a preferred bidder next month but will now do this in September with the intention of signing contracts at the end of September or early October. Parliament will rise on 16 October and the election caretaker period commences on 4 November.

Clearly, the government is rushing ahead in their race against time, throwing due process to the wind and contradicting their previous commitments. The Assessment Committee’s recommendations have now been totally rejected and the mechanisms promised to review the design seem to have been abandoned.

The credibility of the process has completely evaporated. The validity of the Minister’s decision is now in grave doubt given he has failed to meet his own conditions that he imposed as part of his June 30 decision.

There is a community meeting this Saturday 2 August at 2pm at the Holy Rosary School, Gower St Kensington. Representatives from community groups across the inner suburbs will be discussing their priorities for the coming month. 

There is also a residents meeting to discuss the legal situation concerning property acquisition on Tuesday 5 August at 7pm at the Clifton Hill Primary School, 185 Gold St.

For more information about either meeting, please email: info@ptnt.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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