West Gate Tunnel (Truck Bans and Traffic Management) Bill 2019
Ms SULEYMAN (St Albans) (14:28:26): I rise to speak on the West Gate Tunnel (Truck Ban and Traffic Management) Bill 2019. As a westie MP I am absolutely delighted to speak on this bill and explain what it means to the people of the west, and also as someone who not only represents the seat of St Albans but as someone that was born and raised in the west. Let me say that my electorate has been waiting for a very long time to see an alternative to the West Gate Bridge. We know that the West Gate is already at capacity and actually at over-capacity. At the last election we took this to the people of the west. Let me say that they overwhelmingly supported our plans not only for the West Gate Tunnel but also for Victoria. We have seen a record amount of money and investment and creation of jobs across the west, and most importantly, we are delivering on the infrastructure needs for the future. The west deserves this tunnel. It will mean that up to 20 minutes of traffic time will be saved. Also there will be up to 13-minute travel time savings between Melbourne’s west and the port of Melbourne. That means there will be an opportunity to expand and, more importantly, a much clearer path from the port to Melbourne. Hopefully we will see less vehicles on the West Gate Bridge—up to 28 000 every day. We will see trucks off the West Gate Bridge—approximately 7500 per day. Most importantly, as the previous speaker, the member for Ivanhoe, noted, there has been a long campaign by MPs in the west in relation to inner-west streets and trucks being off those particular streets. They have been working with the community and advocating for over 25 years. This is absolutely an achievement and a testament to how local members can actually work together with the local community and stakeholders to achieve a satisfactory outcome. We will see not only a CBD bypass, which means removing traffic from the streets, but also reliable travel times and much more efficient express lanes from the M80 to the bridge. This is about having smart road technology and of course additional lanes and also creating nearly four Melbourne Cricket Grounds worth of new parks and wetlands, which I know is important for the local community. We are also planting more than 17 000 trees. I know from my electorate that cyclists will be impressed to see 14 kilometres of upgraded walking and cycling paths, and as I said, this has been absolutely welcomed by the people of the west. This shows not only that Labor listens but that it also delivers, and when we talk about transport options, it does not forget the cyclists and pedestrians. So it was very interesting today to hear the contributions from the Greens. I must say it was really disappointing, quite frankly, to hear some of the comments made. It is no wonder that the Greens do not understand the west, because quite frankly the west was quite clear about what they felt about the Greens in the last election. They rejected the Greens’ policy in the west, and that is why there is no Greens member in the west. When it comes to understanding the west, no other party understands the people in the west like the Labor Party and the Andrews Labor government. We understand that we need real solutions for real problems. This project was taken to the election, and as I said, my constituents have overwhelmingly supported this project. They want to see this happen and they deserve this second crossing across Melbourne. There is no question that the families, the mums and dads and the people in St Albans want to be able to travel to work and have that option. We know that when an unfortunate problem or incident occurs on the West Gate, the whole of Melbourne comes to a standstill. We have seen that. There needs to be a fix, there needs to be a solution and there needs to be the infrastructure to deliver this. Our government has wasted no time. In 2014 when we were elected we started and continued this project. There is no doubt that this project has been endorsed. Quite frankly, the West Gate Tunnel project is only one component of the investments that we have made. This project will see 500 apprentices, cadets and trainees, but also more jobs— Mr Fregon interjected. Ms SULEYMAN: Thank you very much. Of course we have seen infrastructure spending on things like the additional lanes on the EJ Whitten Bridge and the M80. Let me say this has been a fantastic outcome for the people of the west. I cannot wait to travel on this particular path. I use the West Gate on a daily basis to get to and from work, and I know that my constituents will be looking forward to this particular project. When we look at the investment, there is no government other than the Andrews Labor government that is providing real solutions to the people of the west. On the eve of International Women’s Day I would like to make a point about the two tunnel boring machines for this project. They are named after two incredible Victorian women. Bella, the first tunnel boring machine, has already arrived and will begin the work on the longest of the tunnels. We have heard about it from previous speakers today; it is absolutely massive. The name is in recognition of Bella Guerin, who was the first woman to graduate from a university in Australia in 1883. The second tunnel boring machine will be called Vida, which has been named after Vida Goldstein, a groundbreaking campaigner for women’s rights who established the right for women to vote and stand for election. They were both trailblazers. On the contents of this bill, in particular in relation to making sure the tolling system is fairer and streamlining the tolling offences, we see that you cannot be prosecuted every day for seven days; it will be once. There is a trap when it comes to receiving infringements. Suddenly they escalate, and it is a really heartbreaking situation. People are facing hardships. So I am pleased to see that this bill makes provision for people facing hardship and makes sure that it is a fair and more accessible process for all. I am extremely pleased with this investment in the west. But it is not only about the people of the west, it is about everybody in Victoria. We need the appropriate infrastructure that will sustain the future growth. When we look at the western corridor we see amazing growth, and most importantly, this investment has been done in consultation with the local community, making sure we also remove some of those trucks off our inner-city streets. also want to thank the member for Williamstown and the member for Footscray for their advocacy in this area. Yet again we are seeing that only an Andrews government delivers for the people of the west and provides solutions. Most importantly, we have a number of transport options. It is not just about building roads; we are also building Melbourne Metro, the Suburban Rail Loop and of course my favourite, the airport rail link, with a super-hub station in the heart of St Albans, in Sunshine. I know, Acting Speaker McGuire, that you are absolutely passionate about super-hub stations. I cannot wait. The west is in a period of growth and in a period of amazing opportunity. There is no other government than the Andrews Labor government that will deliver on that growth so we can see the potential of the west. I commend this bill. I would say to the Greens: it is about time you actually started looking at some of the great work that the Andrews Labor government is doing instead of whingeing. Quite frankly, the people in my electorate spoke in November 2018. They support this project and cannot wait to see the conclusion.