Eastern Metro MP Rod Barton is calling for a cost comparison between the relocation and compensation of the Bulleen Industrial Zone businesses and extending the North East Link tunnel to avoid the area completely.
After meeting with members of the Bulleen Industrial Zone Group (BIZ Group) this week, Mr Barton said the cost of fairly compensating and relocating these business, plus the negative impact of removing a precinct that contributed over $132 million each year to the local community deserved more than the cursory mention in the Environmental Effects Statement.
“Bulleen businesses have worked in good faith with the North East Link project managers for many months but to date have no answers on what will become of them or where they will go – they are living in a highly stressful state of uncertainty,” said Mr Barton.
Fair compensation, which included a like-for-like replacement, could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, he said.
“The true cost of uprooting these businesses, their employees and the services within the Bulleen community needs to be properly investigated. To date there are no options on the table regarding suitable local offsets or how businesses will be valued,” he said.
“I want to know how that disruption compares to the cost of tweaking the tunnel exit and Manningham Road interchange in the current draft design to accommodate this very important community?”
Mr Barton said a lack of appropriately zoned industrial land in the local area meant there was no obvious opportunity to create a single new industrial area, and any potential sites faced issues with rezoning and existing use.
“Federal and state governments were prepared to front a $2 billion support package for Ford prior to the closure of its Geelong and Broadmeadows manufacturing operations and the loss of 1200 jobs, yet they are hesitant to consider design alterations that would save an area of small local businesses employing a similar number of people,” said Mr Barton.
“This doesn’t make sense. What will be the unintended consequences of this project on the Bulleen community?”
A workforce survey conducted by BIZ Group showed almost half the workforce were over 45 and two thirds were male, working largely in blue-collar roles. Around 90 percent have permanent jobs and over 50 percent have been in the current roles for more than 6 years, with a third with that employer from more than 10 years.
“This is a settled workforce; a settled community. They deserve more certainty about their future than they currently have.”