WEST GATE TUNNEL PROJECT

Ms VAGHELA: I am very pleased to speak on this motion. Every Victorian knows what it feels like to be caught up in traffic. We all get caught up in traffic on a daily basis, but when it comes to the western suburbs it is a nightmare. Getting caught up in traffic is stressful. It is frustrating. It is a waste of time, just like it is a waste of time today that we are repeating the same thing again and again and again to convince the opposition of why this project is so important. At times we see road rage. There are reasons why we see that. It is because people get frustrated on roads. If you heard the inaugural speech that I gave in Parliament, I spoke twice about removing congestion on the roads. There was a reason for that. During the election campaign what we heard from the people was that road congestion is the biggest problem they face every single day. The result that we saw at the election on 24 November showed the faith of western suburbs people in the Andrews Labor government. They have the faith that this is the only government that can deliver on infrastructure. We would really have to be blind not to see the infrastructure that is going up all over Melbourne. If you go anywhere, you will not say that work is not being done by the Andrews Labor government. Residents of my constituency and beyond in the outer western suburbs have been limited to the West Gate Bridge to travel from the west to the east. They have waited long enough for an alternative to the West Gate Bridge. The western suburbs have grown rapidly, but the infrastructure—specifically the roads—has not been upgraded to match the rapid growth. The Andrews Labor government is not wasting a minute of time to build the vital West Gate Tunnel project, and I agree with my fellow Western Metropolitan Region member Ms Stitt. Every word that she has said I agree with. She is very passionate about delivering what we promised to the constituents of the western suburbs, but this is not just about the Western Metropolitan Region. This is about delivering a project which is for all Victorians. This project presents an integrated solution for east–west traffic movements across the M1 corridor, incorporating Melbourne’s vital second crossing of the river. We have heard about all the benefits that this project is going to deliver, but in case we are still not sure I am going to repeat all those benefits, because I am very excited. This project includes the West Gate Tunnel, stage 1 of the Monash Freeway upgrade and the Webb Dock access improvement works. The West Gate Tunnel will involve building four more lanes on the West Gate Freeway, twin tunnels under Yarraville and a new bridge over the Maribyrnong River that links to an elevated road above Footscray Road, taking people where they need to go in the city’s north. The Monash Freeway upgrade stage 1 will include 30 kilometres of extra freeway lanes and the completion of one of the longest continuous intelligent transport systems on the Monash Freeway. The Webb Dock access improvement works will enhance access to the newly developed Webb Dock at the port of Melbourne, including direct access for trucks from Webb Dock to the freeway network. Consider all the benefits that are going to come with this project. There are so many, but I am just going to highlight some of the major ones. I think we all have heard that when the West Gate Bridge stops, Melbourne stops. That says it all. The West Gate Tunnel will keep Melbourne moving by providing a vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge. It will increase the resilience and reliability of the M1 corridor. This project will reduce the number of vehicles on the West Gate Bridge every day—the staggering number is 28 000 vehicles every day. It will divert 75 000 trucks off the West Gate Bridge every day. It will remove 9000 trucks from inner-west streets per day. It will save up to 20 minutes of time in travel for commuters between the city and Melbourne’s west, Geelong and Ballarat. It will also provide time savings of 13 minutes on trips between the west and the port of Melbourne. This project will offer more consistent and reliable travel times. Traffic will move better with express lanes from the M80 to the bridge, smart road technology will control speeds and lane use, including during incidents, and the list goes on and on. I will fight for the people of Western Metropolitan Region and other western suburbs because this is not their problem; this is all of Victoria’s problem. They face problems on roads every day. For people of the western suburbs, coming to the city should not be a nightmare. Coming to work should not be a nightmare. As part of this project the Andrews Labor government has also upgraded the Monash Freeway to provide faster, safer and more reliable journeys. This includes providing more reliable trips for 200 000 motorists daily and room for an extra 2000 vehicles per hour during the peak. I want to reiterate again that there was a reason we were re-elected at the last election. People in the western suburbs want infrastructure. They have been treated like second-class citizens for a very long time. They have waited for way too long. Other benefits of this project will include improved local amenity. It will offer better walking and cycling connections and provide new open space and parks, greening the west by planting more than 17 000 trees, and it will replace old noise walls along the West Gate Freeway, resulting in lower noise limits. The project will also offer freight benefits to Victorians. It will provide direct freeway connections and will provide 50 per cent more capacity on the West Gate Freeway from the M80 interchange. It will provide express lanes from the M80 interchange to the West Gate Bridge for quicker and safer trips. This project is also beneficial for jobs and the economy. The travel time savings combined with greater connectivity to the port of Melbourne, the CBD and surrounds will provide greater access to jobs for those in the west, higher productivity and opportunities for businesses to grow across the M1 corridor. This project will create up to 6000 new jobs, including 5000 apprenticeships, cadetships and traineeships, and up to 150 jobs for former auto workers. We are getting on with delivering the infrastructure that Victoria needs. The project has been subjected to the most rigorous planning process possible through the environment effects statement process and has commenced construction. Significant works have been undertaken along the West Gate Freeway, and the first of the two tunnel boring machines, which is one of the biggest ever manufactured in the world, has already arrived in Melbourne and will be ready to be in the ground by midyear. Let us get on with this project once and for all and deliver what all Victorians deserve.