Turnbull’s train selfies won’t fix Melbourne’s trains

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The Hon Michael Danby MP, Federal Member for Melbourne Ports

In Melbourne we have seen pictures of our Sydney Prime Minister crouching down outside the Melbourne Club prior to taking selfies of himself on trains and trams. But these selfies aside, we want someone to actually fund public transport, not just take pictures of themselves. Just like his predecessor, the Prime Minister is refusing to give Victoria funding for its most vital and high-priority transport infrastructure project, Melbourne Metro. As I have said before, new show bag, same content.

As you know, the Melbourne City Loop is at full capacity in peak hour. There is no room for more trains. The trains are severely overcrowded—something you do not see in the Prime Minister’s selfies. Some of the trains where 800 people can fit have 1200 people on them now—Japanese-style; Tokyo-style.

There has been a 70 per cent increase in people catching trains in Victoria in the past decade, 40 per cent over the past five years. That’s why Infrastructure Australia had a business case for Melbourne Metro ready years ago.

In early February Anthony Albanese—someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about public transport—visited Melbourne Ports. He stood with me at the Domain Interchange on St Kilda Road reaffirming that Melbourne Metro will be Labor’s first priority for infrastructure in Victoria if we are elected at the forthcoming election. The Domain Interchange, currently a major tram interchange, will host a new Melbourne Metro train station, part of a new increased capacity of the train network to link people from St Kilda and the south-east suburbs to hospitals and universities north of Victoria Parade.

Mr Albanese was in Melbourne to speak at a public forum on public transport. Over 120 people crammed into the Old School Hall at Saints Peter and Paul’s in South Melbourne on a Friday lunchtime to discuss the need for increased federal funding of infrastructure—in particular public transport infrastructure—in Victoria.

We spoke about the previous Labor Government’s establishment of Infrastructure Australia, the need to properly analyse all proposed infrastructure projects before committing funds, and the vital importance of building public transport infrastructure.

“If you leave public transport infrastructure just to the market, you won’t get a good outcome”, Mr Albanese said. “You need a government that is willing to deliver it.”

The question and answer section covered local transport issues, such as bicycle lanes, sustainable cities and the development of Fishermans Bend. Albo admitted that I had been in his ear about the need for infrastructure development in the area, and promised that all prospective infrastructure funding, including Fishermans Bend, would be carefully analysed and costed.

Mr Albanese echoed a point made by state Treasurer Tim Pallas that only nine per cent of Commonwealth infrastructure money is coming to Victoria. By contrast, 36 per cent is going to New South Wales. The people of Victoria are being cheated by this current government. If you are sitting on the crowded no. 16 tram, think of this arrogant Sydney-centric government trying to deny people from Victoria the necessary money for the essential building of our public transport.

Michael Danby is the federal member for Melbourne Ports

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