24 March, 2016
Today I rise to talk about a ridiculous proposal being put forward by the Andrews Labor government, a proposal which is being spun to cover a lack of funding and the lack of a plan for the removal of the Abbotts Road level crossing in Dandenong South. The Andrews government has no intention of removing this level crossing; rather, the proposal being put forward is to simply close the road. This decision has been made despite the fact that local businesses have repeatedly voiced their dismay and strongly demonstrated the impact that it would have on their businesses. Indeed an example of their concern has been shown by the petition that was tabled in the other place yesterday, carrying the signatures of over 500 affected business owners and residents.
Such is the government's blind pursuit of its objective that it has ignored Casey City Council's advice, which is that the road closure would dramatically add to the peak-hour chaos on Thompsons Road — another apparently shovel-ready project that is going nowhere. While the Andrews government has promised community consultation, this has proved to be the same sham demonstrated to the Oakleigh residents about sky rail. The CEO of the Level Crossing Removal Authority, Kevin Devlin, is reported as having agreed when questioned by local business owners that closing Abbotts Road is counted as a level crossing removal and as a key performance indicator for him. Let me be very clear: business owners do not want this to happen, and the broader community does not want this to happen.
The member for Dandenong needs to stop being an apologist for the Andrews government in her district; rather, she needs to bring her community's concerns to this place and ensure that this closure does not go ahead. It is her role to emphatically back her community and be their voice in this place. That is her job — and, frankly, local businesses do not feel she is doing it very well.