What now? Labor's promises for Victoria

We are about to see a resurgence of rail across Victoria, as the Labor state government delivers on its 2018 election pledges. But it will need to win at least one more election, in 2022, to see some of its transport promises come to fruition.  

With more infrastructure building disruption ahead, the commitment to a new traffic control centre, overseen by a City Controller, is a good start. RACV supports the need for the new transport control centre, which will focus on managing roads, trams and buses and communicate with its equivalent for the train network.

On the more immediate front, there are strong incentives for households to install solar products.

Find out more with our summary of Labor’s promises for its second term under Daniel Andrews.

Click on the links below for information about specific policy promises:

Solar rooftop Melbourne Victoria Australia

Home Energy

The new Victorian Solar Homes program forms the bulk of the re-elected Labor government’s plan for tackling high energy prices for households. This program will be expanded to a $1.34 billion investment covering 720,000 homes with the aim to reduce bills by up to $890 a year. Eligible homes valued at less than $3 million and with a combined household income below $180,000 can receive a combination of rebates or loans for solar panels, battery storage or solar hot water heaters.

The Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) will be increased under Labor from 40 per cent by 2025 to 50 per cent by 2030. The government predicts that these targets and the Solar Homes program will help create more than 11,000 jobs over the life of the scheme. 

Read more about the benefits of going solar.

Roads

North East Link

RACV has long supported the North East Link, connecting the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough with the Eastern Freeway. Work on the project will now continue, with the next step being an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) that will be assessed by an independent panel.

Level crossings

In its election campaign Labor announced it would remove a further 25 level crossings, taking the total number to 75 to be completed by 2025. New crossing removals have been announced, including Glenhuntly and Neerim Roads in Glenhuntly, several crossings in Coburg, Station Road in Deer Park, and Old Geelong Road in Hoppers Crossing.

Mordialloc Bypass

Planning for the Mordialloc Bypass is already underway, with submissions on its EES about to close. It will connect to the Dingley Bypass, then South Road and Warrigal Road. Labor promised $30 million to “fix” South Road from Warrigal Road to the Nepean Highway, to deal with the projected 10 per cent increase in traffic once the Mordialloc Bypass is open. RACV believes peak-period clearways are desperately needed as part of the fix.

Outer suburban roads

In its first term, the government announced new arrangements for the construction and maintenance of major roads in outer-suburban areas. Many of the projects announced in 2018 will happen in its second term, including work on Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road, Fitzsimons Lane, Epping Road and Sunbury Road, to name just a few.

Regional roads

The government also announced increased funding for road maintenance in the 2018 state budget, with delivery starting this summer, and the establishment of Regional Roads Victoria to oversee it. RACV will work with Regional Roads Victoria, to ensure they deliver better roads across the State.

More car parks

The state government has announced $150 million for 11,000 new car-parking spaces across the state. That will be especially welcome in the outer suburbs, and at some middle-metropolitan stations that still have chaotic gravel car parks and residential streets lined with commuters’ cars.  RACV’s On Track Survey of railway stations identified Aircraft and Ruthven Stations as two needing attention. However, there was surprisingly little attention given by Labor to better bus services, or bicycle paths and lanes leading to stations, which would give commuters alternatives to driving.

Incorrect roadworks signs

On the day of the election, Labor announced it would introduce penalties for traffic management contractors that leave roadworks sites incorrectly signed when workers aren’t present. This is a good initiative, but it must extend to all contractors working on roads, not just those working for VicRoads. Much frustrating disruption to traffic flow, including to bicycle riders and pedestrians, is caused by building contractors and water, sewerage and power companies, not just VicRoads and councils. Charging for the use of public space and penalties for incorrect signs are needed.

Public Transport

High-speed rail

Labor’s plans start with high-speed rail for regional Victoria, including new track and a tunnel between Sunshine, Footscray and Southern Cross. Based on international services, new high-speed trains are likely to be electric, which will require the electrification of the lines to Geelong and Ballarat for 200kmh operation. Whole railway corridors will need to be fenced too. This work will also open the way for the introduction of Metro train services to Wyndham Vale and Melton. It appears that in this term of government a plan will be prepared, with construction after 2022.

Cranbourne rail and Frankston extension

At this stage, Labor’s plan is to duplicate the Cranbourne Line by 2023, enabling more frequent trains to Cranbourne. An extension to Cranbourne East will take longer, as will extending the Frankston Line to Baxter. Labor has committed to planning for Cranbourne East and preparing a business case for an extension to Baxter. We hope it considers new stations in Frankston East and Langwarrin, upgrades to Baxter Station and removing level crossings along the route.

What mustn’t be forgotten is that there’s many existing stations across the network that need improvement, such as Ruthven and Aircraft, as identified in RACV’s On Track Survey.

Light rail

Labor is planning to extend the tram line from Caulfield by running light rail on to Chadstone and Monash University. A further stage could extend the light rail to Rowville.

Suburban rail loop

Labor has also proposed to prepare a business case for its long-term suburban rail loop, a massive long-term rail project. The first stage, connecting Cheltenham to Monash University at Clayton, then Glen Waverley, Deakin University at Burwood and Box Hill, is planned to commence in 2022. Eventually, it would connect to Melbourne Airport, Sunshine and Werribee, most likely via the Wyndham Vale line with a new link to the Werribee line.

Melbourne Metro 2

Labor clearly supports rail, but unfortunately it did not commit to Melbourne Metro 2 during the election campaign. RACV doesn’t want another 18-year delay until work begins on Metro 2, as there was for Metro 1. High-density development in Fishermans Bend will need rail access, which is why the state government should start work on Metro 2 now.

Airport rail link

Work on the airport rail link through Sunshine is set to continue, which was expected irrespective of who won the state election, as the major state and federal parties seem aligned on this issue. Building a rail tunnel will be part of the project, providing faster train access through the inner west for the airport link and high-speed regional trains. The sun is rising on Sunshine as an important hub for rail passengers across Victoria.

bikes on a dedicted bicycle path in victoria australia
bikes on road melbourne victoria australia

Bicycles

St Kilda Road

During its campaign, Labor announced support for the transformation of St Kilda Road and St Kilda Junction, giving St Kilda Road a central tram and bike corridor, as well as three traffic lanes in the direction of peak traffic each weekday. It will enable platform stops to be built for trams along St Kilda Road too. The new central corridor should be operating by 2025.

Sydney Road

Unfortunately, Labor has made no commitment to improve Sydney Road for bike riders and tram passengers. The parallel Upfield bike path cannot cope with the current volume of riders and pedestrians, and more intensive land use along Sydney Road will only increase the number of riders, pedestrians and tram passengers. Different stakeholder groups have proposed ideas to solve the issues along Sydney Road, but to date the government hasn’t developed a plan for it.

Bike paths, lanes and trails

The state government has long argued that its road projects incorporate paths and lanes for bicycle riders. For example, the North East Link will provide an extensive new network of trails, as will the Mordialloc Freeway and West Gate Tunnel projects. Across the state a range of announcements relating to open space and mountain biking will improve opportunities for recreational riding that will be appreciated by many.

Child Restraints

RACV recommends that child restraints are professionally fitted to ensure correct instalment, so children are transported safely. The re-elected government has promised to offer grants to Neighbourhood Houses and community organisations across the state for seats to be professionally installed for free. 

RACV would like further detail on how this will be implemented. The program should only be delivered by trained fitters and an audit process needs to ensure seats are correctly installed. With approximately 80,000 babies born in Victoria each year the program can’t fund every baby seat installation, so it is important that the program prioritises parents that need financial assistance the most. For example, the scheme could be made available to health care card holders.

A child safety seat is installed by a professional

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Authorised by Bryce Prosser, RACV General Manager Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, 485 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000