Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — Residents in the Prahran electorate are being left in limbo with regard to the decision on the future of the Punt Road public acquisition overlay (PAO). The Punt Road PAO committee handed its report on the overlay to the planning minister back in May 2016. Residents have now been waiting 10 months for a decision from the planning minister. They have been advised that the Minister for Planning has requested further technical work to be undertaken by VicRoads and a decision will be made on the PAO early this year.
The report has not been made public, which means the community simply do not know what recommendations the minister is considering and what extra information he is seeking. I have sought the report through freedom of information but have been knocked back. I then took it up with the Freedom of Information Commissioner, but I have been knocked back again. I was the only candidate to take a clear position of removing the overlay to the last election, which has been left in place for decades and not addressed by previous government, so I welcome the government's review of the overlay.
In part of its submission to the panel, VicRoads' own data showed that it would be expensive — $500 million is the estimated cost to widen the road — destructive for the 130 properties bulldozed and completely pointless for the 65 per cent increase in traffic with only negligible improvement in travel times. There are alternatives: we have got the 24-hour clearways that are working well and car parks to open soon; the 246 bus can be upgraded to be a smart bus; and we can retain the heritage-listed Fawkner Mansions and put them back to use housing those in need. So I urge the minister to remove the overlay and to give residents certainty.