By Andrew Herington

Fourteen submissions were squeezed into Day 23 with a succession of detailed presentations on a diverse range of topics – baseball, impacts on Flemington, the use of sat-nav systems to reduce congestion, a new bike arterial to the eastern suburbs, the impact on Clifton Hill Primary School, air quality, Moonee Ponds Creek and Royal Park. These presentatins built on the community and personal stories told yesterday – the devastating impact on the Flemington community centre; the African community in Debneys Park and the loss of the recently completed guide dogs training centre after years of fundraising and effort.

The Chair kept a tight rein on time allocations resulting in more than one presenter only getting part way through carefully prepared slides.

A general tip for presenters:  Less is more – no more than about 1 slide per minute allocated and go straight to your detailed points and recommendations. The Committee has heard the general stuff several times over.

The main focus of Day 23 was Royal Park with detailed submissions from the Friends of Royal Park, Parkville Residents Association, West Parkville property owners and the Safety Net for Royal Park presenting their alternative designs. Together they told a compelling story, llustrated with photos and backed up by detailed scientific and historic information.

An analogy that has been heard several times is “London wouldn’t dig up Hyde park and New York wouldn’t touch Central Park”. Today this had a sharper edge – “If this was south of the Yarra, they wouldn’t dream of putting a freeway portal in the Botanic Gardens”.

In fact, considerable expense was incurred to avoid just that with the Domain and Burnley tunnel portals being kept well away from parkland and every affected tree being physically moved. There was a strong sense that those who know and love Royal Park cannot believe the rest of Melbourne are so unaware of its attractions and so indifferent to the damage being proposed in the name of the East West Link.

For many at the hearings, Royal Park is a central issue. Why was this route chosen when Rod Eddington recommended a more direct line to the west running south of the Park? Why is open space is seen as fair game by road planners? The hearings are demonstrating that inner city residents will fight for their parks just as actively as they will fight to protect their homes and health.

The dramatic climax for the day came with the evidence from Clare Walter on air quality and the examples of overseas freeways where filters are used on large freeway tunnel vents. She had organised an expert witness, pulmonary specialist Assoc. Professor Irving who has recently had a central role in the air pollution crisis caused by the Morwell brown coal mine fires. Dr. Irving gave strong evidence about the risk of fine particulates and the existence of health hazards at very low levels and the high level of variability in emissions which make standards based on annual averages a bit meaningless when it comes to the risks individuals get exposed to day to day.

Irving was then subjected to a willing cross-examination from Stuart Morris QC, for LMA who attacked Irving’s credentials to speak on freeway issues and highlighted that Australia’s standards are better than in some other countries.  Melbourne has relatively good air quality compared to many overseas industrial cities – but that is no reason to be complacent about making it worse, particularly for those who are already exposed to higher levels of pollution because they live in the inner city.

Mr. Morris triumphantly tabled a report showing Japan had 8,000 tunnels and only 40 had filtering equipment. What he didn’t say is that most of those 8,000 tunnels are relatively short, in rural, mountainous areas or have low traffic use. Long urban tunnels with heavy traffic need air filtration equipment. Even CityLink has made provision for the Burnley vent to be retrofitted and 20 years later we should be applying higher standards for any new proposal.

Tomorrow is a rest day with the Hearings recommencing on Monday for a last furious six days of community group and individual submissions.


  1. Marg Jungwirth April 4, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    It is sad that the REAL people affected get such little time,
    but over the duration of the hearing the govt side / LMA can cross question (insult) for ages and ages and ages, no matter how insulting or rubbishing their questions.

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