Melbourne Metro Rail Project

Mr RICHARDSON (Mordialloc) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Public Transport. The action I seek is for the minister to prioritise investment in the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Melbourne Metro rail includes two 9-kilometre underground rail tunnels that will transform Melbourne’s public transport system. The project, which will create 3500 jobs during peak construction, includes five new underground stations: Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain.

Firstly, I acknowledge the work of the Premier and the Minister for Public Transport in establishing the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority. I also note that $40 million in funding has been fast-tracked to establish the authority and start work on the project as soon as possible. The authority will oversee immediate planning works, complete development of the reference design and undertake detailed site investigations.

Our city and its suburbs are growing at a significant rate. It is estimated that the population will increase from 4.3 million people to 7.7 million people by 2051. In my region, the City of Kingston estimates that its population will increase by 20 per cent — a fifth of its existing population. Currently in my region around one in nine people catches public transport for work or social purposes, and our challenge is how to encourage more people onto the system and how to increase capacity and reliability.

A key challenge for many communities, including in my electorate of Mordialloc, is the stranglehold of congestion. With increasing pressures on governments to fund vital services, such as health and education, we need to be even more strategic and even more stringent in the investment and projects we undertake. Our city is in need of a second rail tunnel to support our population in the future. As I have said on other occasions, we must strip away the short-term politicking and look to the longer term needs of our state and what delivers the best outcomes and return on investment.

The city loop rail tunnels were a substantial upgrade that transformed our city and suburbs. The project spanned two decades — from its inception prior to 1971 to its completion with the opening of the Flagstaff station in May 1985. This was the equivalent of transitioning through coalition and Labor governments. The time for a second rail tunnel is well and truly here. I note that the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel has been listed by the nation’s independent auditor of infrastructure priorities, Infrastructure Australia, as the no. 1 priority for Victoria. It has been reported that Melbourne Metro could return an economic benefit of $1.90 for every dollar invested. We need to get on with planning and commencing this important project.

In conclusion, I request that the Minister for Public Transport prioritise investment in the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, which will significantly benefit my community.