THURSDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECT: Trackless Rapid Transit for Melbourne’s South East.
CARINA GARLAND, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CHISHOLM: Welcome everyone to Chisholm this morning. I’m Carina Garland, the Labor candidate for Chisholm and I’m so excited about an amazing infrastructure announcement we have today. I’m joined here by the shadow minister Catherine King; Michelle Ananda-Rajah the Labor candidate for Higgins; and Clare O’Neil, the Member for Hotham. And, of course, Margaret Gardner, the Vice Chancellor of Monash University, which is where we are this morning. Catherine over to you.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Thanks very much. Can I start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather and pay my respects to elders past present and emerging. To Carina, it is fantastic to be here in the heart of Chisholm and to Michelle, our candidate for Higgins: it’s terrific to be here with you. And of course, Clare O’Neil my parliamentary colleague has joined us here, just off maternity leave I think. With Greta as well. Margaret, the Vice Chancellor here at Monash University, can I thank you for having us on campus and also Josef Seidler from Vicinity, who operates and runs amongst many other things the Chadstone Shopping Centre. I’m here to make a terrific announcement today for the southeast of Victoria. This is a community that whilst I don’t represent is actually dear to my heart. I spent my years from the age of 17 to 21 at Priceline in the Chadstone Shopping Centre, and it was that work that put me through university and enabled me to be able to have a future and career that I’ve been able to have. I also spent many, many a day here at Monash University because the campus I studied at was a long way away and so being able to have a university campus here in this region was incredibly important to me growing up. But one of the things I knew growing up was it was really hard to get to this campus. It was really hard to get to work at Chadstone because there were very limited public transport opportunities. And now, many, many years later from when I was working there, that has not been resolved. So I’m really delighted that both Monash University and Vicinity have put together a substantial proposal to bring trackless rapid transit to the Southeast. This is a proposal that will link Caulfield Station, Chadstone Shopping Centre, Monash University’s Clayton campus, right the way out to Rowville, solving that public transport corridor that we know has been the bane of this area’s – a brake really on the economic development and productivity of this region. So I’m very pleased to announce today that an Albanese Labor government will make the commitment to put $6 million into building the business case for this proposal. We know that this fantastic Heart Hospital is due to open in a year’s time. We know the suburban rail loop is due to open in 2035. Connections are going to be critically important to making sure that the Heart Hospital – people are able to access it and that our economic development in this precinct continues. So that commitment is for the business case. We’ve been working very closely with the Andrews State Labor government to ensure that this proposal stacks up and we’ll have more to say about public transport in this region in the coming months. But this announcement today really does deliver for this community a proposal that has been long in the making. I’m going to hand over to Margaret the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University to say a few words about the importance of this project to the region. Thanks Margaret.
PROF MARGARET GARDNER AC, VICE-CHANCELLOR OF MONASH UNIVERSITY: Thank you, Catherine. Monash University has been very pleased with Vicinity to support this proposal for trackless trams because it will deliver much better connections, much better public transport, an ability to move many greater numbers of people through this region from in fact, through the Chadstone shopping centre, through the hospital, here through the campus here, out to Rowville. This is really important for our students, our staff, but for this community. This is a vibrant community, which has all sorts of possibilities, but great difficulty accessing public transport. And this is one way of making that public transport available.
KING: Any questions?
JOURNALIST: an you describe the status of your discussions with the State Government? Will you be asking Daniel Andrews for money for the business case as well?
KING: No, we won’t, the full business case will be funded by an Albanese Labor government. So it’s $6 million for that business case but they are very supportive occurring and supportive of this proposal. It’s important that we do the business case first to ensure that this project stacks up as value for money. It’s very important. But the discussions with the Andrews state government are advanced and that’s the discussion we’ve had no there’s no further money for the business case, it’s fully funded.
JOURNALIST: Would a future Albanese Labor Government support Suburban Rail Loop as well?
KING: So we’ll have more to say about the Suburban Rail Loop and obviously the stages of that are incredibly important, and in the last federal election campaign it was only the Labor Party that was actually committed to putting in money from the federal sphere to that particular project so we’ll have more to say about that particular project later. But this Trackless Rapid Transit proposal does link up to Suburban Rail Loop and again creates a whole precinct and system of public transport here for the Southeast.
JOURNALIST: This would be the first trackless tram we have in Melbourne why have you decided to choose this technology [inaudible]?
KING: There are business cases being developed across the country – in Western Australia and in Queensland. This is probably one of the most advanced proposals that we’ve seen. We also want to see – which I should have mentioned as part of the announcement – part of the business case we’ll also be looking at how do we get the best possible jobs in the economy for the local community. So as part of our national rail plan, we’ve announced we would actually start making sure we’re building more trains here, we’re building more trams here, we’re building more ferries here. And now hopefully, as part of this will investigate being able to build and invest in manufacturing trackless trams here in Victoria as well as across the rest of the country. But the reason we’ve chosen this is it is a very well-developed proposal. Obviously, it needs the business case to look at the economies of scale in terms of building them here, but also it makes absolute sense from a public transport corridor perspective. This corridor has been one of the missing links in Melbourne to be able to connect. You know, we’ve got lots of corridors going this way, lots going the other way, but not through this particular area. And this is a really important connector.
JOURNALIST: And just to confirm, the business case will be looking at the proposal by Monash University?
KING: That’s correct. It’s also cheaper. We know that it’s cheaper, trackless trams so they still have their own dedicated route. So they’re not competing with cars. But what it actually does do, it is cheaper than light rail, certainly cheaper than trams.
KING: Well, I think at the moment – you know, certainly congestion is a significant issue in this area. COVID has meant that we’ve had some relief for that for a short period of time, but I don’t think it’s going to be very long before those issues of congestion come back here into the southeast and across Melbourne overall. And that’s a good thing in the sense that people are getting back on our roads.. [inaudible]. But what it also does mean – part of the business case – is investigating exactly where we’ve got a fair idea about where the route is, but in terms of the capacity for easements and road expansion to actually build this – that’s part of the business case to look at it. And if you look Wellington Parade, there’s a fair bit of room in terms of some of the median strips and easements along the side to create a dedicated line for trackless trams.
JOURNALIST: You said that the Hospital is due to open next year, do you have any idea on the cost it took to build this?
KING: That’s a really a question for the Victorian State Government who’ve invested substantially in this hospital alongside Monash University, but how extraordinary for Victoria to have a dedicated heart hospital here in this community. It’s such an incredible thing to do and I know patients will benefit hugely from having consolidated research here on the university campus, having cardiologists, having allied health professionals all working together, actually looking at the heart health of Victorians.
JOURNALIST: So you’ve got not idea on the costs?
KING: It was in the state government that has invested in this project. So I’m not aware of that. But it is incredible – I haven’t seen it before. I saw the original proposals but it’s actually extraordinary to see.
Thank you so much for coming, everybody. Thank you.
CATHERINE KING – TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW – MELBOURNE – THURSDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2021