The C4GF Board and team wishes everybody a happy and safe holiday season, and a prosperous 2019.
THE Committee for Greater Frankston’s second year was jam-packed with events and infrastructure funding victories. The committee outlined three initial priorities when it was launched in February 2017 – Lathams Road duplication, creation of a specialised teaching hospital, and extension of the metropolitan electrified rail line beyond Frankston.
Lathams Road, Carrum Downs
On 1 May, the state government presented its Budget and allocated more than $80 million to duplicate Lathams Road, Carrum Downs Industrial Estate’s main arterial road. Congested Lathams Road and surrounds has been a barrier to economic growth and efficient production for many years as well as a safety hazard.
Duplication was first proposed by Frankston Council in 1989, but the project had languished since then. A concerted campaign led by the committee with the crucial support of Carrum Downs and other businesses as well as a passionate champion in Carrum state MP Sonya Kilkenny saw the road go from near the bottom of the “to-do” list to the top in 7 months. Two days after the Budget, Roads Minister Luke Donnellan visited Carrum Downs Industrial Estate with VicRoads officials to meet business owners and flesh out project details. The government’s Major Road Projects Authority has confirmed that contracts will be signed by the end of 2019 with construction to start in 2020 and be completed by 2023.
In late October, the committee hosted a breakfast meeting at Carrum Downs for business owners to consult with officials of the state government’s Major Road Projects Authority over the design of the duplication project. The following month the authority agreed to include a right-hand turn lane at Levida Drive based on strong feedback gained at this meeting. The design win highlighted the importance of early and in-depth community consultation for major projects.
In December, Frankston City Council announced the combined Carrum Downs and Seaford industrial precinct now contained almost 20 per cent of the municipality’s jobs and produced 30 per cent of its output. By comparison, Frankston CBD was home to 14.2 per cent of jobs and 14 per cent of output.
Frankston Hospital and the new health and education precinct
The dream of Frankston Hospital becoming a specialised teaching hospital was realised in September when the state government pledged to spend $562 million to build an 11-storey tower to expand the facility, the biggest suburban hospital rebuild in Victoria’s history. Construction is due to start in 2020 and be completed by 2024.
The facility will be a cornerstone of the health and education precinct being created by Peninsula Health, Chisholm TAFE, and Monash University’s Peninsula campus. An academic and research centre will provide modern facilities to train the next generation of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. The expanded hospital brings 500 new jobs, in a region where professional career opportunities are in short supply.
Construction is already underway on Monash Peninsula’s six-storey, 150-room student accommodation building, scheduled to open for the coming academic year; the new Rehabilitation, Aging and Independent Living (RAIL) research centre will open later in 2019; and the stage 1 TAFE redevelopment is well underway. The Peninsula Health–Monash University research program is progressing with senior post-graduate appointments made in medicine; primary and allied healthcare; and addiction research.
Frankston rail extension – halfway there
Priority item No 3 also went from a dream to solidity this year when the federal Coalition government announced in its May Budget half the money needed to extend the metro train line beyond Frankston.
The Victorian Liberals pledged to match the amount in July during the state election campaign. Later that month, federal Labor jumped on board when its infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese told a C4GF lunch that a federal Labor government (the election must be held by May 2019) would match the amount of $225 million – and build the extension sooner than the Coalition.
In May the committee hosted a presentation at Frankston Civic Centre by Melbourne transport expert Dr Chris Hale of his report for Monash University’s Peninsula (Frankston) campus about access and transport connectivity. The report included that a station built between Frankston Hospital and the university campus on the proposed rail extension would be in the top 25 of busiest suburban stations in Melbourne, would increase the number of students within 50 minutes’ travelling time six-fold, and “profoundly rejuvenate” the Frankston line. In October, C4GF board and transport committee members attended a consultation session with Transport for Victoria officials about the progress of the business case for the rail extension.
The rail extension has captured the interest of our community following strong media coverage in the Frankston Times and Frankston Leader. The Leader published articles under the banner “Extend the Frankston line” including the history of proposals to electrify the rail line beyond Frankston and the project’s community benefits.
The rail extension remains up in the air as the recently re-elected Victorian government has not yet committed to it, but is preparing a business case using a $3 million federal government grant. In April, the state government announced it would now begin consultation with stakeholders in the Frankston area, and the business case was expected to be finalised in early 2019.
This bipartisan federal support puts the project well on track and provides crucial momentum. The federal Budget allocation is the largest amount ever for public transport in Frankston. The committee will continue to urge the state government to commit to the project, take advantage of the federal money, and start the project during this term of government, 2018–2022.
Much committee energy during the year was focused on strategically addressing the shortage of affordable and accessible Frankston CBD car parking. The Frankston community recognises car parking is an economic problem for our city, not just a matter of convenience.
Since 2017, the committee has been vigorously advocating for improved car parking in Melbourne’s outer suburbs including, of course, at Frankston. Frankston traders strongly backed the need for a rail extension as part of a long-term plan to free-up CBD car parking. One thrust has been to ask the state government to change state planning rules to reflect the greater car dependency of outer suburban areas like Frankston compared to compact inner suburbs like Richmond and South Melbourne, which are better serviced by local public transport.
In September, C4GF organised a car parking forum at committee member Phil Jones’s Frankston International Hotel. It was attended by committee members, representatives of Frankston City Council, state and federal MPs and election candidates, Frankston traders, and Michael Watchorn, Monash University’s Peninsula campus manager. Attendees unanimously agreed that access difficulties in the CBD were holding back Frankston’s economy and that provision of affordable car parking was vital for our region to grow economically. Several innovations for improving parking in the CBD were put forward. The forum was the first of several, all aiming to solve the economic restrictions imposed by lack of affordable and accessible parking.
Right on cue parking-wise, on 13 September state Opposition Leader Matthew Guy promised, if elected, to build a $30 million 450-space multi-deck commuter car park at Frankston station. Two weeks later, the state Labor government said it would, if re-elected, build a 500-space multi-decker, at a cost of $35 million in conjunction with a federal Labor government.
2018 events and advocacy program
Committee for Greater Frankston’s 2018 events started with a lunch at the McClelland Gallery cafe with Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy in January. In campaign mode 10 months out from the state election, Mr Guy said his party, if elected, would support the proposed rail extension and Frankston Hospital expansion, and would revive development of Port of Hastings and consider moving a government department to Frankston.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt was guest speaker at a lunch in February held at Functions By The Bay at Frankston Park. He reaffirmed strong support for a nationally recognised health and education precinct at Frankston, and said that it would generate jobs at a rate of 2.5 per cent above the national average. In the future, a medical school could be established at Frankston. Peninsula Health’s new chief executive Felicity Topp provided the first overview of Frankston Hospital’s redevelopment, which would include a clinical research and education centre to be run in conjunction with Monash University.
In March, Victoria’s Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports, Luke Donnellan, was guest speaker at a business lunch at Sandhurst Club and hinted at Lathams Road duplication going ahead (confirmed in the May state Budget). He outlined other road projects in the region, and said the government was backing rail freight (including a Port Melbourne to Dandenong/Lyndhurst intermodal terminal).
In April, the committee hosted a manufacturers’ roundtable at Seaford with Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who heard from committee members and others about how escalating energy costs were affecting the region’s businesses. Several big employers in Carrum Downs told the minister that rising electricity costs were outpacing savings made from installing energy efficiency systems. Ms D’Ambrosio said new renewable energy projects “should see downward pressure on power prices over the next two years”.
Soon after the state and federal budgets were released in May, the committee started a series of ‘Frankston community roadshows’, presenting details of the hospital and rail projects to service clubs and other community organisations, including Rotary and Probus.
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison came to Frankston on 11 May to sell his Budget in the company of the region’s two federal MPs – Greg Hunt, the MP for Flinders and Minister for Health, and Dunkley’s Chris Crewther. C4GF chief executive Ginevra Hosking spoke with the then Treasurer, thanking him for the rail extension commitment. She emphasised that rail transport would play a major role in supporting the proposed Frankston “biomedical precinct”, the medical teaching and research hub to be jointly operated by Monash University and Peninsula Health/Frankston Hospital that would attract biotechnology companies and become Melbourne’s third medical hub.
Mid-May saw representatives from C4GF transport committee attend a rail extension roundtable of the region’s decision-makers attended by Paul Fletcher, the federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities. A politic in the pub visit from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull where Ginevra Hosking asked the PM how the rail extension project could be secured and was told “get the state government to back it”. Also in mid-May the committee was invited to a dinner at Government House, “Celebrating the South East” region of Melbourne, attended by 600 people and hosted by Victorian Governor Linda Dessau and her husband Anthony Howard QC, and co-organised by South East Melbourne group of councils chairman Simon McKeon and his team.
In late June, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was guest speaker at a C4GF business brunch attended by more than 90 committee members and guests at McClelland Gallery cafe. In election campaign mode, Mr Andrews outlined his government’s schools, hospitals, road and crossing removal construction programs. He hinted at the Frankston Hospital expansion, which became fact in September. Before the event, Mr Andrews was joined by local MPs Paul Edbrooke (Frankston) and Sonya Kilkenny (Carrum) to inspect level crossing removals and the new Frankston station.
The committee hosted federal Labor’s infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese and Dunkley ALP candidate Peta Murphy at a ‘city partnerships’ round-table lunch, in late July, also at McClelland Gallery cafe, where Mr Albanese backed the proposed rail extension (as mentioned earlier). He also spoke passionately about Labor’s City Partnerships policy, which was designed to unlock the potential of cities and outer suburbs like Frankston “by bringing together all levels of government, the private sector and community … to achieve genuine structural change”.
The state election campaign was a key advocacy time in Greater Frankston this year and the committee joined many other organisations in keeping the community informed about the major parties’ promises of and commitments to projects in our region as well as their benefits. We generated strong media coverage in print, online and radio- with a live 3AW broadcast . Attention on Frankston also came via the only live TV debate between the two leaders, Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy, held at Frankston Arts Centre on 21 November, and hosted by and televised on Sky News.
Saturday 24 November was election day and Labor’s unexpectedly big win was called by the ABC just 90 minutes after voting closed at 6pm. Riding a big swing to the ALP, Greater Frankston sitting Labor MPs Paul Edbrooke and Sonya Kilkenny turned their two marginal electorates into handsome margins with Mr Edbrooke winning 60 per cent of votes after distribution of preferences, and Ms Kilkenny on 62 per cent after preferences. Liberal MP Neale Burgess narrowly retained Hastings with 51 per cent of the preference votes and Liberal MP David Morris is returned to Mornington with 55 per cent .
The Andrews government being given a second term of four years means the Frankston Hospital expansion will go ahead. Both local Labor MPs were promoted after the election – Paul Edbrooke is Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Emergency Services (assisting Police Minister Lisa Neville) and Sonya Kilkenny is Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education. (Parliamentary secretaries are assistant ministers.)
It has been a successful year for the Committee for Greater Frankston with well-attended, compelling events; the two big infrastructure wins; and our profile in the ascendant. Our focus now turns to:
- Encouraging private investment in Frankston’s growing biomedical precinct as the state government and Peninsula Health prepare to build the $562 million Frankston Hospital expansion.
- Creating an effective strategy to more equitably manage supply and demand for affordable and accessible car parking in Frankston’s CBD. State and federal Labor agreeing to build a $35 million multi-deck car park at Frankston station provides the opportunity to kick-start this process and seek other opportunities to remove this crucial economic blockage.
- Continuing our advocacy of the rail extension project including scrutiny of the state government’s forthcoming business case as well as urging the government to start the project in this term of government.
Our board members will be meeting face to face with our members in the new year to ascertain their advocacy priorities for 2019. Two likely focus areas include the preparation of an industry, jobs and economic growth strategy that will cover the provision of land for livelihoods, and improving freight movement via a new airport in the southeast and an inland port (also called intermodal terminal) near Dandenong connected to the Port of Melbourne.
Another area of focus is improving Frankston’s public image and to kick-start the conversation our first event of 2019 will feature Gilbert Rochecouste of Village Well, a Melbourne placemaking consultancy synonymous with the Dark MOFO mid winter food and arts festival in Hobart and the Queen Victoria Night Markets. (Placemaking is a people-centred approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.) A preview of his topic comes from a recent statement – shopping precincts are ripe for a rethink to make them more welcoming and energising spaces for human activity, particularly as the 80 per cent of Australians living in the suburbs rely on them as their primary public spaces.