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Media Release


Outer East Transport Assessment Kept Secret

Release would "engender confusion in the community" says government!!

The PTUA and other environment and community groups are still calling on the Minister for Planning, Robert Maclellan, to release the report of the independent expert panel which assessed the Environment Effects Statement for the proposed Scoresby Freeway. The panel conducted public hearings in December 1998, and forwarded its report to the Minister in April. Normally, panel reports are released within a month of going to the Minister. The PTUA applied for release of the report under FOI in June but the request was rejected by the Department of Infrastructure. the PTUA then asked, as entitled under the act, for a reconsideration of this decision and the department again refused to release the report. The department claims that the release would not be in the public interest as, "it would be likely to engender confusion in the community". Such a statement is an insult to the intelligence of the community. More likely the confusion is on behalf of the government when they must concede that public transport is the preferred option.

Public Transport Users Association President, Dr. Paul Mees, claimed that the refusal to release the report is likely to be because the independent panel has found that the Scoresby Freeway cannot be justified on environmental and economic grounds. If this is the case, it would be the first time in Victoria's history that a proposed freeway had failed assessment. Dr Mees claimed the report would now be suppressed until after the state election as the government would find the pro-public transport stance embarrassing.

The PTUA, together with over 40 community and environmental groups, argued at the panel hearings in December that:

* the Scoresby Freeway would not materially reduce traffic congesion, even on routes like Springvale and Stud Roads, because most traffic is local or radial (heading towards the city), with very few people making the trips such as Frankston to Ringwood that the freeway was designed to handle.

* the freeway would generate additional traffic, increase pollution and lead to pressure to complete the "missing link" of the metropolitan ring road through the Yarra Valley "green wedge".

* for much less than the $1 billion freeway, the outer east of Melboune could be provided with dramatically improved public transport such as a rail line extension to Rowville, a tram line extension to Knox City and frequent feeder buses through every neighbourhood, as well as much-needed road improvements such as eliminatining railway level crossings at notorious locations like Springvale and Nunawading.

Dr Mees said:

"The Scoresby corridor study is the most important planning exercise in Melbourne's history. The cost of the Scoresby Freeway keeps rising more and more, yet the area through which it passes houses over a million people with almost no usable public transport. The community is entitled to know what the panel has said so an informed decision can be made about transport options in Melbourne's outer eastern suburbs. The community has paid for the whole environmental assessment process, which cost around a million dollars, and we are entitled to see the results. The report should be released immediately, the public has the right to know."

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 22 November 1999