8 March, 2016
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety and relates to the recent announcement about the widening of the Warrandyte Bridge. My request is that the minister organise a public meeting to explain to residents how this final decision on the traffic treatment was made.
If I can just give a bit of background, in 2014 the emergency management commissioner, Craig Lapsley, came to Warrandyte. He identified the Yarra River crossing as one of concern, as if there were a fire incident, then we would have a lot of difficulty getting residents out of the area. He further identified that it was not just an issue during a bushfire event but also a day-to-day congestion issue and needed to be dealt with.
The former government allocated $140 000 to VicRoads to look at the options that were possible to free up the traffic. On the Labor Party coming to office that funding was retracted. After some significant time and the raising of the issue with the CEO of VicRoads, the emergency management commissioner and the minister, the funding was restored. Around November of last year VicRoads and the emergency management commissioner held a public meeting in Warrandyte, detailed four options, put them on the table and said very specifically — the slides from the presentation from VicRoads show this — that from November to February there would be an opportunity for the community to have input on the options they had put forward in very limited detail.
My subsequent action was to ask the CEO of VicRoads and the minister how the community might have some input into those options. Those approaches fell on deaf ears. I did not get any response but, thankfully, we have recently had an announcement to the community that there will be work done, which is fantastic news for the community, although there are some concerns.
It is unfortunate that members of the community did not get the opportunity to have their input. They are now saying they should have been afforded that opportunity, because they were promised that opportunity at the November meeting. It is of some concern to them that the consultation opportunity did not happen. I am not even saying that the minister was under any obligation to do so, but given his agency, VicRoads, had told the community that was the case it is somewhat surprising that it did not actually happen. There is certainly support for the changes; however, as I said, there is always a need to bring the community with you when you are making significant changes, particularly to an area like Warrandyte that prides itself on the village feel it has.
I think it would be belated, but I certainly think that holding a meeting with VicRoads and perhaps also with the emergency management commissioner would go a long way to helping people understand the details, how decisions were made and how this would benefit them in a fire situation as well as with the day-to-day congestion they face, and I ask the minister to arrange that public meeting.