East-West link cancellation putting the brakes on local business

EXTRACT FROM PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES  HANSARD

 Thursday, 19 March 2015

ADJOURNMENT

Eastern Freeway

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — I raise an issue of grave concern for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. I seek immediate action to get an undertaking to relieve congestion on the Eastern Freeway and EastLink. It appears that on a daily basis my electorate office is contacted by constituents frustrated by the Eastern Freeway, with complaints of significant queues banking up around Hoddle Street every single morning.

Recently I have had discussions with one of the country’s largest transport operators, who also expressed frustration that every day his trucks are stuck in traffic, which not only adds significant costs to his business but he also has to pass on the flow‑on costs to his customers. This is just totally unacceptable.

I have also had discussions with one of the country’s largest distributors of food. Again, there was frustration about trucks being stuck in traffic. These rigs can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and instead of delivering six loads a day they may be down to delivering three or four loads a day. This is hardly a productive way of utilising assets. It is also a lot worse when we have accidents or breakdowns on the Monash Freeway and Melbourne becomes gridlocked.

The Eastern Freeway carries about 140 000 vehicles per day and this amount of traffic is only going to increase as the population increases. But it is not just about the growing population; the growth of businesses and industry is also crucial for a prosperous state. I fear that with this congestion of the Eastern Freeway motorists will look for alternatives and will start clogging up local roads and streets, and that is the last thing we need.

It is well known that the Napthine coalition government took action and signed an agreement to build the east–west tunnel. It would be a real boost for our state with thousands of jobs created. Of course the issue now is if the Andrews government is going to tear up that contract, what will it do with regard to easing congestion on the Eastern Freeway to ensure that transport operators can distribute goods around Melbourne effectively and people can leave work and get home at a reasonable hour to spend time with their kids and have quality time with their families?

The action I seek is that the minister tell us what the government is going to do with regard to relieving congestion on the Eastern Freeway as a consequence of it tearing up the east–west link contract.