State election 2018: Now is the time for councils to forward plan
The result of the Victorian state election should give Victorian councils confidence to forward plan when it comes to infrastructure
The Victorian state election for 2018 has been run and resoundingly won by the Labor Party, with Daniel Andrews’ Government expected to hold a majority in both Houses of Parliament.
For Victorian councils, the sizeable swing in votes towards Labor means that forward planning can now be considered with a long-term view not experienced for at least a decade.
In particular, councils can begin to consider the potential impacts of the infrastructure projects that Labor has promised to deliver in its next term and beyond. These projects touch all corners of Greater Melbourne and large parts of rural Victoria, and include:
- the removal of a further 50 level crossings;
- duplication of the single railway line from Dandenong to Cranbourne;
- design, consultation and implementation of the ‘Western Rail Plan’, which includes new electrified lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale, and additional tracks between Sunbury and the Melbourne CBD;
- commencement of the Suburban Rail Loop, which is proposed to run in an arc around greater Melbourne, between Werribee to Clayton, with stops in places such as Melbourne Airport, Fawkner, Bundoora, Box Hill, Burwood and Glen Waverly. The Government proposes that business case development, design and community consultation will commence in 2019, with work on the first stage to be underway by the end of 2022;
- North East Link; and
- the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
It is likely that the bulk of the projects will be delivered using the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009, which grants to the relevant project authority vast rights and powers, many of which limit or fetter rights usually reserved for councils.
Has your council considered how its assets, services and ratepayers may be impacted by the significant projects promised by the Andrews Government? Does it clearly understand how the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 may affect its rights and powers? Are there opportunities for your council to secure some community benefit directly from these projects?
These are the questions that council can, and should, now be asking with confidence.
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