A community campaign is fighting the Victorian Liberal government’s planned East West toll link tunnel. The multi-lane road tunnel will cost $6-8 billion and involve the demolition of large areas of inner city parkland, sports fields, and wetlands, as well as the compulsory acquisition of homes.
The Victorian Liberals are echoing Abbott’s climate irrationality, by planning for increased car and road usage when Australia has just faced its hottest year on record due to climate change. Public transport action groups are campaigning for a much-needed rail network instead of the tunnel, which could be built at a fraction of the cost.
The rapid expansion of Melbourne’s suburbs means that many working people are commuting hours a day. This tollway will not deal with the drastic need for public transport in outer suburbs.
The campaign is focusing on a legal challenge to the tunnel, alongside ongoing pickets where testing drilling is happening at the planned site.
Lifelong resident Keith Fitzgerald, who faces the demolition of his Collingwood home if the tunnel goes ahead, joined the pickets. He told The Herald Sun, “I’m 70 years of age and I’ve lived in this house for 69 years. But it’s more than just my house, I’m fighting for public transport, heritage, schools and our community.”
To win, we need a mass campaign that builds on public sentiment for action on climate change and better public transport. Union support was critical to stopping the expansion of a freeway through the same area of Melbourne in the 1970s. The same union power alongside community protests could do it again.
By Feiyi Zhang