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Media Release


Batchelor Needs a Bex and a Good Lie Down

The Public Transport Users Association has expressed astonishment over Transport Minister Peter Batchelor's outburst against the Association.

"Mr. Batchelor needs a bex and a good lie down." PTUA Secretary Vaughan Williams said. "In the past few weeks, Mr. Batchelor has hysterically attacked respected public policy academic Professor Bill Russell, the Labor-controlled councils of Moreland and Darebin, as well as the PTUA."

Mr. Williams said that the outburst would be laughable were it not for the fact that it conceals a sinister side. "Mr. Batchelor has admitted that he is banning the PTUA from consultative processes because we believe freeways are not the answer to Melbourne's transport problems. We have always held this view, under the Hamer, Cain, Kirner and Kennett governments, but not even Jeff Kennett tried to ban us because of our beliefs. Our view that freeways are not the answer is hardly a radical one. It is shared by most environmental groups, by many Labor party members, and by the world's most respected transport planning experts. Are all these people to be banned too?", Mr Williams asked.

Mr. Williams said that while the PTUA has been banned from the Eastern Freeway study Reference Group, the RACV and the trucking lobby umbrella group the VRTA have been invited by Mr. Batchelor to join.

Mr Williams also pointed out that little more than a year ago, Mr Batchelor described the PTUA as "a key representative body for public transport users in Victoria" (letter dated 30/12/99). "We opposed freeways then, so what has changed?" Mr Williams asked. "The only person to have changed position on freeways since the 1999 election is Peter Batchelor."

Mr Williams said that Mr Batchelor's colleague, Planning Minister John Thwaites, seemed happy to allow the PTUA to participate in consultative processes. The PTUA is represented on the Reference Group for the Melbourne Metropolitan Strategy and as recently as last week was invited by Mr Thwaites to participate in a workshop to help develop new environmental procedures for Victoria.

"The Minister cannot govern effectively if he refuses to engage with the key stakeholders in his portfolio. There is no point having a community consultation process if people are excluded simply because they disagree with aspects of government policy," concluded Mr Williams.

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 26 April 2001