Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (18:04): The matter I raise tonight is for the Minister for Public Transport, Minister Horne. I ask the minister for an update on the progress of planning and design works on the Rowville public transport extension. In April last year the Labor government announced $3 million for design and planning works for a train or rail extension between Caulfield and Rowville. At the time they said these works would be complete in a year—tick-tock. The 2018–19 federal budget also promised $475 million over a five-year period towards construction of a heavy rail line to service Monash.
In talks with Knox council this week we reviewed their public transport vision. The council’s preference is to run heavy rail from Huntingdale through to Rowville. They expressed concerns that stopping at Monash would disadvantage those travelling from the east and that any future business case for a further extension would never stack up if only part of the project was completed now.
Commuters in the eastern suburbs are car captives, the public transport offerings to move around these areas are minimal, and this contributes significantly to increasing congestion on our freeways and roads. Businesses along the proposed extension in Knox and Monash generate almost $27 billion to our state and national economy. These business communities are expanding rapidly, offering jobs, apprenticeships and education opportunities to local residents and those travelling from new suburbs further out. However, getting to work by public transport is almost impossible and car congestion in the area is a nightmare and will only get worse. So I ask the minister to release the findings of the planning and design works through to Rowville or provide an explanation of why this project has been delayed.
Dealing with unfinished business of the taxi and hire car industry has been the top priority for Transport Matters party leader Rod Barton during the first quarter of his term in Victoria’s Legislative Council.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (09:41): I am pleased to rise today to congratulate Knox City Council on its innovative solution to expanding change room facilities to accommodate the increase in female participation in sports. It is great news that girls are flocking to our AFL, basketball, cricket and other sporting clubs, but the lack of change rooms means numbers often drop off as girls get sick of changing in their cars. The issue for councils now is that in order to add or to enhance the existing facilities, the entire building must be refurbished to meet the latest building standards, which in many instances blows out the costs dramatically.
In Knox they have come up with a unique solution, which I think should be applauded. Prefabricated modular change facilities are manufactured offsite then installed and finished onsite. Because they are stand-alone buildings, the huge costs of refurbishing the entire building can be delayed. Knox Gardens recently benefited from this modular solution, with many others in the area planned for construction. I applaud the council for thinking outside the box and encourage our young girls and women to continue in their sporting pursuits.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (15:49): My constituency question is to the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Minister Williams, in the other place. I wrote to Minister Williams earlier this month to share my concerns for the future of a fantastic program in the Eastern Metropolitan Region called Speaking Out, and I asked if she could commit to ongoing support for this program. Speaking Out trains and supports women who have experienced family violence or sexual assault. These women are able to share their stories with the public through media interviews, community engagements and involvement through other committees. The program has a current group of 30 women actively taking their messages out into the community. These incredibly brave women are frontline fighters for awareness and as a group take on two or three engagements each week. I ask the minister: what is her office doing to support this valuable program in eastern metropolitan Melbourne to ensure it can continue to raise awareness through first-hand accounts of the effects of family violence and sexual assault?