FULL funding for the long-awaited Frankston rail extension should be coordinated in the next Victorian and Federal budgets, says leading advocacy group the Committee for Greater Frankston.
The Commonwealth Government led the way with an initial amount of $225 million allocated in 2018. And the project’s had bipartisan support since 2016 with federal Labor backing it, but the Victorian Government is not yet on board.
The committee’s CEO, Ginevra Hosking, says: “Let’s get this project done: time to fund it in the two recovery budgets coming up.”
The federal Liberal senator and patron for Dunkley, David Van, said: “We want to see this project go ahead for the people of Frankston and the peninsula. That’s why we’ve committed $225 million. The state government also needs to do their bit in terms of funding and getting it built.” He said the metro rain line extension would “mean locals can get to work and home sooner and safer”.
State Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan told a recent parliamentary hearing into the state government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that it was likely fewer people would be moving in and out of Melbourne’s CBD, but more would move between suburbs.
The committee’s request comes as both governments undertake consultation for their 2021–22 budgets due in May, “crucial blueprints for recovery from the pandemic”, Ms Hosking said.
“The rail extension will provide a massive boost to our region. It will benefit Frankston CBD parking and boost economic recovery. It will set our region up for decades of growth.”
She said the extension from Frankston to Langwarrin and potentially Baxter was critical to strengthening the region’s public transport connectivity by enabling 400,000 residents to access Metro trains.
“The project has been confirmed on Infrastructure Australia’s ‘post-2021 Covid’ national priority list – one of just six projects in Victoria in the immediate category (0–5 years) and in the top 150 projects in the nation.
“It’s in Infrastructure Victoria’s 30-year strategy, which recognises new rail is needed in outer suburbs. The strategy disproves the myth that all future population growth is in new growth areas and confirms that outer suburbs with poor public transport like Frankston should also be prioritised for rail investment.”
Ms Hosking said it was incredibly disappointing the Victorian government – in the middle of its biggest-ever infrastructure construction surge – continued to delay the rail extension.
“We ask the state and federal governments to work together to get their budgets in sync. We need the rail extension project now.”
Note: we sought input from Dunkley federal MP Peta Murphy and Frankston state MP Paul Edbrooke but both declined to comment.