Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 15:17 ): I rise today to speak on a great outcome for my community. Confronted with a 40-year-old problem that created delays and frustrations, as well as safety issues, it was rewarding to join our community on a Fix Oaklands Crossing campaign. This has been a win for the people and now we have a solution for these ongoing safety and congestion issues that have long been paining our local area.
This is proof that a community coming together and championing a cause can achieve the desired outcome. If anyone would like to see the history of this campaign and follow the time line of what has been achieved to deliver this outcome, you can go to my website, www.fixoaklandscrossing.com.au. Here you can see every step in the journey, including the pressure that was placed on the state government over a number of years, calling on them to come to the party.
The federal member for Boothby, Nicolle Flint, passionately championed the cause from the moment she was preselected to be the Liberal candidate before the federal election last year. In fact, she was the first person to get a financial commitment to the project of $40 million, which started the ball rolling, followed by negotiations for another $55 million to deliver the outcome we have today. That was outstanding, and it was great working with her and the federal minister in the Turnbull government, Paul Fletcher, to achieve this outcome. It was also a pleasure to work with the member for Bright and the candidate for Black, who has been there every step of the way, knowing the importance of this project to the people in our community.
The fixoaklandscrossing.com.au website also shows the ongoing engagement our Oaklands champions have had. While I have stated that this is a whole-of-community project, there were a few people who committed to the cause right from the start. They were above the politics and were just focused on getting the outcome. There are too many to name, but they know who they are and I would like to thank them for their passion and involvement. Can I say in this chamber that they should be very proud of the large part they have played in achieving such a wonderful outcome.
The time line also shows the constant requests for the state Minister for Transport to come and visit the intersection and see the problem firsthand. It took a while, but we eventually convinced him to swing by and, after 15 years, the constant pressure also forced the Premier finally to come and see the problem firsthand and witness the intersection that has caused delays of up to 40 minutes for commuters in our local area.
A lot of people who have contacted me are still angry about the $6.8 million that was spent by former Labor transport minister Pat Conlon moving the station towards the intersection back in 2008. The community know that this just added to the congestion and delay for everyone who uses the crossing. Again, more detail is outlined on my www.fixoaklandscrossing.com.au website. There were also questions about the $2 million spent in the lead-up to the last election with fancy pictures of an overpass that was being touted but, today, the government has binned that work and is pushing ahead with the rail under road project that my community was calling to be explored and that has now been seen as the right solution.
Again, there is a lot of frustration with the Premier spending tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money sending people letters claiming full credit for this project and ignoring the work done by the community on the www.fixoaklands.crossing.com.au campaign. I have had a number of people contact my office who are angry about this, and I will quote a letter I received on 16 June 2017. The letter states:
The true fact is that there has been a conspicuous lack of any campaign of the State Labor Government to have the Oaklands Railway Crossing fixed except for a few motherhood generalised statements containing no precise details until 7 th June, 2017.
Your circular cleverly omitted a number of important items critical to properly assess it.
- It failed to state that the State Labor Government did not support the campaign until a few weeks ago.
- It did not mention the Federal Government's commitment to provide $40 million towards the project announced during the 2016 Federal election.
- It had not made any commitment to fund the project until a few weeks ago.
- It failed to mention that as a result of a groundswell of public opinion brought on by the campaign of the member for Mitchell the State Labor Government has been stung into action it did not want to take.
Clearly, my community is upset with the Premier trying to take credit when in fact they are the ones who have done all the work, but I do not want to dwell on the negatives. This is a great outcome for our community following their hard work on this campaign. This is an opportunity to create a space that will make our community safer, reduce traffic congestion and link people to the services they have previously been hampered in accessing.
Our campaign will not end here. We will continue to make sure that we hold the transport minister to account in delivering this project and that we get the best outcome for our local community. The website www.fixoaklandscrossing.com.au will be a vehicle for people to stay in touch and follow the project. I have posted the flyover video of the artist's impression of what the station and intersection will look like. I stress that it is only an artist's impression and that this will be used as a guide. I will be making sure the state government keep our community updated with the actual design plans for the rail underpass and associated works throughout this process.