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PTUA: State Election 2002 Comment

The state election is coming up on 30th November, and to help our members make an informed decision about how to make their vote count for better public transport, we have drawn up a comparison of the major parties' transport policies. We have rated them and compared them to the PTUA's policies, recently published in "It's Time To Move.

Editorial - Judgement Day for Labor

Victorians had good reason to be optimistic with the election of the Bracks government in 1999. The new government had made public commitments to several worthwhile initiatives in public transport, and it seemed that urban freeways were to take a back seat for a while. But three years later, it is difficult to see that much has changed at all, let alone anything positive that can be attributed to the current government.

The government came to office promising to be active in planning, monitoring and regulating all public transport services. Unfortunately, this has failed to materialise. Transport Minister Peter Batchelor claims with monotonous regularity that he is powerless to act due to the privatisation contracts entered into by the previous government. With the serious financial difficulties of the operators, the government is in an excellent position to reclaim control of the system. Instead the government has approved over $100m of extra subsidies and obtained nothing from the operators in return.

The promised 200 additional conductors and station staff have not been delivered. The tram extension to Knox City has been bogged down in feasibility studies. The proposed extension of train services to South Morang, Craigieburn and Tullamarine Airport show no progress, with the latter officially scrapped. Indeed, when compared with their commitments at the last election, the proposals for Labor's second term are truly insulting.

The Bracks government committed to consult with local communities on regional transport plans. Apart from some piecemeal bus improvements and some behind-closed-doors work by bureaucrats and consultants, these plans are still nowhere in sight.

Labor's pre-election policy was largely silent on roads, but the government is now planning to proceed with billions of dollars worth of new urban freeways, pushing Melbourne further down the path towards an antipodean Los Angeles. This is despite the clear anti-freeway message from the public forums for the Bracks-initiated Melbourne 2030 strategy.

In rural Victoria, the situation is a little more encouraging. The government committed to significant infrastructure works to improve the speed of regional trains, though at this stage it seems likely that the end result of the fast train project will be one additional slightly faster train per day on each of the lines affected. Frequencies proposed are equally disappointing on the promised return of the Mildura, Ararat, Bairnsdale and Leongatha lines.

Despite some positive measures, the Bracks government has little to show for its first three years. It is now up to the Victorian public to decide whether another chance is deserved.

How to vote for PT

Over the page you will find comparisons of the major parties' policies. The rating at the bottom is an indication of the strength for each party’s support for public transport. PT First are clearly out in front here, and by voting for them, you will help send a message to the politicians that people really do think public transport is an important issue for the liveability of our state. In seats where PT First are not running, the Greens have also come up with a very strong policy, and deserve your support.

Of the major parties, neither has policies which are likely to produce big improvements in public transport, and preferences could be directed to whichever one you feel is likely to serve your interests better. If anything, at this stage, the Liberals have a slight edge.

Last Modified: 22 November 2002