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QUESTION – North East Link – SMART taxpayers design

Aug 29, 2019 | Parliament

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:15): My question is to Minister Syme, representing the Minister for Planning. A group of residents from the Banyule area have presented design suggestions for the northern end of the North East Link that mitigate many of the issues raised by the community through the consultation process. This SMART taxpayer design proposes a simpler M80 ring road interchange; extending the tunnels north of Lower Plenty Road under Watsonia Hill; diverting the north end of Greensborough Road over the rail alignment; and removing the interchange at Lower Plenty Road at this point in time. There are implications in costs and timelines from their suggestions, I have no doubt. But there are great benefits in having community options for this important piece of infrastructure carefully considered by bidders in the final design. So I ask the minister: will he ensure the SMART taxpayer design be given consideration by bidders and allow them to present the best final design for the North East Link?

Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Resources) (12:16): I thank Mr Barton for his interest in this important transport project, and I will endeavour to get a response from the Minister for Planning in due course.

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:16): Thank you, Minister. There seems to be a general feeling among those most interested and impacted by the North East Link that the community consultation has been more of a marketing and education process rather than a two-way conversation aimed at achieving the best outcome. I am yet to meet a resident or business that does not agree with me or with the government that this road is a much-needed project. However, despite the current hearing process there is concern that the community is expected to accept the draft design and get on with it. So I ask the minister: how will he guarantee that the needs of the community and their input be incorporated into the actual road that is built for the North East Link?

Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Resources) (12:17): I thank Mr Barton for his supplementary, and I will pass that on to Mr Wynne.

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