My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, and the action I seek is for the minister to rethink the North East Link. Today on the steps of Parliament local residents spoke about the devastating impact that this toll road will have on their local amenity, their environment and their green spaces. I was presented with a joint letter signed by hundreds of people calling on the government to stop the North East Link, which I will read into Hansard. It is to ‘Dear Premier’ and the minister: We call on you to stop the controversial North East Link project from going ahead. The North East Link proposal will waste $16.5 billion of public money which should be spent on public transport solutions.
This toll road through our suburbs and parks is a poor use of money when we urgently need long-term mass transport options, improvements to air quality, protection of open space, and to reduce the greenhouse gas impacts on Victoria’s transport system. Melbourne’s north eastern suburbs, like much of … Melbourne, have few viable public transport options. Please invest in public transport to tackle congestion NOT more mega toll roads. Safe, accessible and enjoyable public transport is what the community needs. And this is signed by hundreds of people. At a time when we have around a decade to prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change, when carbon emissions from transport in Victoria are on the rise, building a new toll road to reduce carbon emissions is like replacing an old coal-fired power station with a new coal-fired power station.
At a time when we are facing a species extinction crisis; when we know just how import our urban green spaces are to our environment, the plants and animals that live there, to the livability and of course to our health; when financially the Premier is saying he is going to have to make some tough decisions about finances, to spend $16 billion on a mega toll road that will cut through some of our most sensitive urban green spaces is environmental and economic vandalism. It is a road that is going to increase the pressure for the east–west link to be built through inner-city Melbourne. The solutions are clear—they are all around us—more trains, more trams, more buses, a second tunnel linking the north and the west through the inner city, not more toll roads.