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Vietnam Veterans and the Oaklands Crossing

Mr WINGARD (Mitchell) (15:42): I rise today to express my concerns and frustrations with the state government's handling of the Oaklands crossing project. 

It will come as no surprise to anyone here that I have been working with my community for more than four years to fix Oaklands crossing, and we have had a great result getting funding commitments from the federal government, and after the long campaign the state government has jumped on board along with the local council. But it appears that the state government wants to lock our community out of the consultation process, and they want to keep us in the dark as to what is going on.

Each week I am contacted by dozens of constituents who want to know what is going on with the Oaklands crossing upgrade.

They want to know things like:

- When will the work start?

- What local roads will be closed around the crossing?

- What disruptions will occur to local businesses?

- Would there be any compulsory acquisitions of businesses, homes or community facilities?

- Will the Warradale train station be impacted during the construction phase?

- What safety features will be included?

Those questions are many more come to my office regularly. I have asked the Minister to have a briefing with the department to get some updates and answers for my community to those questions and I have constantly been denied.

One of the big questions, though, that comes through my office, and I have had a lot of consultation with, is about the Vietnam Veterans' club rooms on Addison Road at Warradale and what will happen then with them. They are right alongside the train station and they are a wonderful group in our local community.

They are very aware that their facilities are very much in the precinct of where works are going to go and what they have always wanted to know and what they have always wanted to happen on their behalf is to be kept in the conversation and the communications of what is going on.

I have had a great relationship with the Vietnam Veterans, attending their Long Tan lunch, helping them with their club rooms when they were vandalised, and we keep in touch regularly. In fact, Doc Ballantyne is always letting me know how important this group is and I do agree with him.

He also tells me regularly about the state of the Repat, and he is not too happy about what is going on there and nor any of the Vietnam Veterans. The big thing with this group is that they just want to be kept in the loop. They want to know what is going on. We know the Oaklands project is going ahead, and in fact they are very supportive of the project. They just want to make sure that they are not left in the cold.

As we found out last week, their clubrooms are actually owned by the Scouts. The government has compulsorily acquired that venue, but do you think they have gone and spoken to the vets? Do you think they have gone and sat down with them, had a cup of tea and said, 'Look, this is the process. This is what we are going through. Here is what we are going to do for you and this is what we are going to work with you on'?

No, the government has not had that conversation. They have left them out in the cold and left them quite concerned about what the future might hold for them. They have not given them an opportunity to find a new venue. They have not talked about what options are on the table to get them a new venue. The government really has been very poor in its handling of communications with this.

As I have said, I have written to the government on a number of occasions asking specifically to have a briefing to talk about the Vietnam vets, a great group in my community, and that has been denied. There has been no response and no consultation with myself or our community around this aspect.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Elder, would you like to come up to the chair now please?

Mr WING ARD: The member for Elder does make a very good point.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, you are talking to me

Mr WINGARD: She says I have been invited to

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Mitchell, back to your job, which is your grievance. You are talking to me.

Mr WINGARD: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. As far as the invitation to a Public Works meeting next week, it is a little bit like the government coming back to the vets and saying, 'We will meet with you on Wednesday.' What has happened here is that, after the eviction notice has been given, after they have been told they are leaving, after they have been told their premise is being compulsorily acquired and with no conversation about what might happen in the future, then the government wants to sit down and have a chat. We do not accept that.

We are going to stand up and fight for these veterans. They have served their country. They have set themselves up in a great little home. They have a great little spot. They are happy to be relocated. They are happy to talk about other options, but they would like the courtesy of that conversation before being told their property is going to be compulsorily acquired and that, in effect, they will be evicted.

As far as they are concerned, they were told that they could have to move post Christmas, which is a very, very tight turnaround, but communication is what is the issue here. It has been incredibly poor. As a result, it means that they have started to hear whispers about people coming and doing soil tests and they will tell them one thing and someone else will tell them something else. They are getting in quite a state of panic knowing that they are going to go and they have not been communicated with. It is incredibly poor and this government really needs to have a long hard look at itself.

It is not hard to sit down with a community group. It is not hard to talk to them, in particular when the local member writes to you three or four times over a five-month period and you do not respond. It is not good enough. 

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