Murphy V East West Toll - please donate!


Dear householder,

I write to ask for your help with a Supreme Court case against the East-West tollway, led by former Federal Court judge Ron Merkel QC.

A courageous citizen from Brunswick, Tony Murphy, has filed this case on grounds that the government has misled the public about the tollway, and thus breached consumer protection laws.

However, Mr Murphy doesn’t have the tens of thousands of dollars this case could cost, despite receiving a great deal of pro-bono legal support.  Nor do the many small organisations and individuals helping him, including the Public Transport Users Association and many community organisations from Clifton Hill to Flemington and beyond.

Please stand with Tony and us against this destructive project, and contribute to the court case fighting fund.  No contribution is too small, it all helps.

The State government wants to sign contracts to build the East West Tollway only weeks before the election.  This case could delay the signing of the contracts until after the election.

Residents along the route have been told that the process of compulsorily acquiring their homes and businesses will commence in early August.  So there is a real urgency to stop this project from proceeding.

The Cities of Moreland and Yarra are now also challenging the project’s planning approval in court.  Theirs is a separate case, and Mr Murphy’s case may yet decide the fate of the project, and still needs support.

Please stand with us now for clean air, our city’s amenity and heritage, sustainability and fairness, economic common sense and truth and transparency in politics.

If built, the East-West tollway can be expected to drive down property values right along its route, affecting not only directly abutting properties.

Local property devaluation is a well-established side-effect of new urban motorways, just as price uplift occurs with new rail.  Nobody wants to live near a traffic sewer.  Everyone wants to live near a train station.

Though the tollway business case is still shrouded in secrecy, we believe it doesn’t stack up from economic, employment, congestion, social, health or environmental perspectives, and lacks public support.

Infrastructure Australia told the Senate that the tollway’s realistic Benefit-Cost Ration is about 0.8, not the 1.4 claimed by the government because of questionable “agglomeration benefits”.  That means for every dollar spent on the tollway, Victorians would only get 80c back.

The State government has also guaranteed to the contractor and operator of the tollway that Victorian taxpayers will make up any shortfall in the toll revenue.  We would carry this debt for decades.

Smart Growth America analysed US GFC stimulus funding, and found that public transport projects created, dollar for dollar, about twice as much employment as highway projects.  The $2 – 2.5 billion Dandenong line upgrade is expected to create about 3000 jobs, but only about 6500 jobs are expected on the $18 billion East-West tollway.  Many more jobs would be created by investing in public transport.

All Melbourne’s motorways were meant to fix congestion, but one by one they’ve all clogged up and slowed to a crawl.  The East-West tollway would be another toxic car park at peak hour.

The government’s own experts admitted at the Comprehensive Impact Statement hearings that traffic would return to its current levels in Alexandra Parade in less than 10 years.

Most of Melbourne’s outer suburbs’ only public transport is buses 40 minutes apart, which stop at 7pm and don’t run on Sundays.  This is unfair, especially to the many elderly people and people with disabilities who can’t drive, and teenagers wanting more independence and to give mum’s/dad’s taxi a rest.

Keeping most people car-dependent is bad for public health.  Diesel fumes contain known carcinogens, yet this tollway would funnel trucks through residential areas, and more traffic right past the Royal Children’s and Women’s Hospitals, where our sickest kids are trying to breathe.

By increasing greenhouse emissions from transport, the tollway would worsen global warming.

Please help Tony Murphy in his David-and-Goliath battle against this economically, socially and environmentally damaging project, by chipping in whatever you can afford to help fund his court case.  Tony will be back in court soon, and his team really needs to know by 30 August 2014 whether they can afford the disbursements that could make or break the case.

The current state government was elected promising better public transport, and denying plans to build the East-West tollway.

On 2 November 2010, then-Liberal-leader Ted Baillieu said of the Doncaster rail line: “The first step is to plan it, and find a route in detail, with the community, then find the funds, and then build it.  We are committed to proceeding down that path.”

On 17 November 2010, the current Transport Minister Terry Mulder said, regarding traffic congestion, “the answer is an efficient, reliable public transport system”.

In the same interview, Melbourne’s most outspoken public transport advocate, the late Paul Mees agreed, “There is no city of four or five million people anywhere in the world that’s been able to get rid of traffic congestion and Melbourne isn’t about to become the first.  There are too many people wishing to travel to the centre of the city in the morning peak hour for it to be possible to get them all on the roads and not have congestion.  Terry is right, the only thing you can provide, the only thing that cities that have been beating us have been able to provide is a viable alternative means of transport”.

Please help send a clear message to all politicians that we won’t put up with politicians who say one thing and do another, or those who propose damaging trophy projects despite strong public opposition.

Please contribute now to the fighting fund for Tony Murphy’s legal case against the East-West tollway.  We think we can stop it, and get something much better.  We hope you do too.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Clarke
Committee member, Public Transport Users’ Association,
Former City of Yarra Mayor (2010-11) 


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