Questions: Melbourne Metro Rail Project
Mr HIBBINS — My question is the Minister for Public Transport. Analysis by Public Transport Victoria shows that thousands of passengers will face longer travel times if a South Yarra interchange with Melbourne Metro is not built. Passengers travelling from South Yarra to St Kilda Road, Parkville or the west will have journey times of up to 8 minutes longer, passengers travelling to South Yarra from Dandenong lines will be up to 5 minutes worse off and passengers interchanging between the Dandenong and Sandringham lines will be 10 minutes worse off. Given these longer travel times, will the minister commit to including a South Yarra interchange in the Melbourne Metro project and undertake a more detailed assessment of station designs so it can be delivered in the most cost-effective and least disruptive way?
The SPEAKER — Order! Before calling the minister, I note that the Chair accepts that some preamble needs to be provided to a question, but a preamble should not constitute a statement. I urge the member to be more succinct on future occasions. I have taken no notes on the question, but I am sure the minister has.
Ms ALLAN (Minister for Public Transport) — In thanking the member for his question, can I say just how pleased I am once again to be talking about that most important public transport infrastructure project for Victoria, the Melbourne Metro rail project. Great progress is being made on this important project, including critical announcements made today about the construction approach that is going to be taken by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority based on the best of expert advice. Engineers have been assembled, and people who have worked on projects such as the cross-city rail project in London and a project in Hong Kong are coming to Melbourne to give us the best of international advice on how to deliver this project.
I was asked by the member about an analysis that has been done on this project. In his question the member provided a range of details to the house, and I am very pleased to furnish some additional detail to the house in answering the question. The connection the member desires at South Yarra to the Melbourne Metro rail project would add $1 billion to the project's cost. It would destroy more than 100 properties, and half the Jam Factory would have to be knocked over to accommodate that connection at South Yarra. Furthermore, to undertake this havoc on the residents and on the commercial community of the South Yarra area would not deliver the benefits the member is seeking on behalf of his community.
I appreciate that we want to be aspirational. Some people, certainly those of us on this side, are aspirational when it comes to making improvements to public transport. That will certainly be the case with Melbourne Metro. When it is completed it will relieve congestion at South Yarra. It will enable more frequent and more reliable services without causing the havoc and disruption that the member for Prahran is seeking to cause in his own community. It is remarkable that the member is wanting to cause this sort of damage in his own community for no benefit at all.
I would like to go on about this point because there is a bit of a familiar theme emerging here. I note that the Liberal Party has joined with the Greens political party in its advocacy for this project. It would be of some interest to members of the house that the connection to South Yarra has been estimated to have a benefit-cost ratio of between 0.2 and 0.3 cents in every — —
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — Order! The minister to continue in silence.
Ms ALLAN — It is remarkable that as those opposite did in government they continue in opposition to advocate for projects that have the lowest possible benefit to the state and wreak the maximum damage on communities in Victoria.
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I ask a supplementary question of the Minister for Public Transport. The single entrance at South Yarra station is overcrowded, the trains are full when they arrive, the pedestrian crossings are dangerous and the connecting Toorak tram is at 116 per cent capacity. If the minister will not commit to a South Yarra Melbourne Metro interchange, will she at least commit to an urgent and long-overdue upgrade of the overcrowded South Yarra station?
Ms ALLAN (Minister for Public Transport) — I appreciate that the member may not have been able to hear my answer when I spoke of the benefits that would come to passengers who get on and off trains at South Yarra as a result of the Melbourne Metro project when they see that congestion that the member talked about being relieved, once Melbourne Metro is up and running. There will be more frequent and more reliable trains coming into and out of the city to South Yarra, so there will be benefits.
I appreciate that there are other issues in and around the precinct of South Yarra, as there are around many train stations around Victoria. We have a commitment to improving public transport in this state, and we will look at any of these issues, whether they are in South Yarra, whether they are in Richmond or whether they are in Ballarat. We will look at working through these issues with those communities, unlike those opposite, who ignored the public transport needs of this state and preferred projects that would have cost taxpayers funds and taken people's homes and properties away for no benefit or return to the community.