Member for Morwell Russell Northe has expressed profound disappointment with the State Government’s plans to force Victorians who live to the east of the City, including Latrobe Valley residents, to fund the building of their West Gate Tunnel project.
“Last week in Parliament, I spoke on the Andrew’s Government West Gate Tunnel Bill 2019 in the Legislative Assembly”, Mr. Northe said, “this Bill will pave the way to build a tunnel in Melbourne’s West, and building infrastructure for our road and transport networks is something I support. Whilst I congratulated the Government in progressing positive infrastructure builds, I expressed my disappointment at how hard-working Gippsland people will be slugged with additional costs to pay for it”.
“The Bill imposes astronomically high increases in tolls on users of all City Link roads across Melbourne including the Monash and Tullamarine Freeways, bringing about a 4.25% per annum increase for the next ten years”, Mr. Northe said. “If you use toll roads on the Monash or Tullamarine Freeways, you will be slugged extra tolls to build the Westgate tunnel even if you never use this road – and that is not fair”!!
“In addition, there are new city access charges for those travelling into the CBD between 7:00am and 9:00pm coming from the Monash and Tullamarine Freeway”, Mr. Northe continued, “despite whether these users access the city every day, or perhaps just on the odd occasion for travel or appointments”.
Even more unacceptable, is that the requirement to pay tolls on City Link will now extend from 2035 to 2045, meaning these costs will only continue to rise and rise over the next twenty five years for individuals, businesses and households.
“I also used the opportunity to again highlight in Parliament, the plight of Latrobe Valley residents who do not have access to cheaper and reliable public transport into Melbourne, particularly by way of a dedicated rail line like Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo”, said Mr. Northe. “Due to our abhorrent train service, we are forced into using the road network to commute to work, access important medical appointments and to get to the airport”.
“My constituents already tell me that already the tolls on the roads are prohibitive in many respects, and many families, individuals and sometimes businesses take alternative routes to minimise their costs”, said Mr. Northe. “In my view, if it is indeed cost prohibitive, we do not want to see motorists using alternative roads and providing issues in other areas”.
“I am not opposed to the construction of new tunnels and roads across our State”, Mr. Northe said, “however, common sense should prevail – why should costs to the public explode across Victoria for the next twenty five years, just so the Andrew’s Government can deliver those in West Melbourne a quicker commute to work? How are these charges fair and equitable?”