A kick in the guts

NICOLE ROBINS is a three-term councillor at Melville council. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED, she says the McGowan government’s proposed Murdoch Drive connection is a “kick in the guts” for residents. 

AGAIN, residents in the City of Melville have been let down by the state government.

The recent release of the final design for the Murdoch Drive Connection linking our hospitals to Kwinana Freeway and Roe Highway is another kick in the guts for the people of Melville.

The decision to scrap the completion of Roe Highway has resulted in an urgent need for a southern access to the Murdoch Health and Knowledge Precinct, but the government’s final concept is far from ideal.

If I believed that they were making decisions which they truly thought were in the best interests of the people, I might understand.

This is, however, just another example of the McGowan government making calculated political moves rather than showing real leadership and making decisions that are best for the regional road network, and best for the people.

The City of Melville were strong advocates for the completion of Roe 8, and worked hard to spread the message that the completion of Roe Highway would mean less trucks on our local roads, resulting in safety and health improvements for all road users.

For the last 10 years, mayor Russell Aubrey and other committed souls have worked tirelessly towards the only real solution to the current road network crisis.

Last year, Labor won the state election and prioritised shutting down the Roe Highway project.

• The proposed Murdoch Drive Connection.

Whether because they believe the congestion on the way into Fremantle is not an issue that needs an immediate resolution or whether they are just against it because the Liberals are for it is not for me to say.

What I can say, with complete confidence, is that the decision on the final design for the Murdoch Drive connection is purely political.

The outcome for the City of Cockburn is brilliant. The design ensures vehicles coming from the Kwinana Freeway or Roe Highway cannot get onto Farrington Road or Bibra Drive as they exit.

No extra vehicles through Cockburn. So where do these vehicles go?

The only place they can go is up Murdoch Drive, resulting in more traffic through Melville.

Let’s join the dots. First, refuse to build Roe 8 so that traffic through Melville is increased.

Second, continue political games by adopting a design which will only send more traffic towards the City of Melville.

Could this have anything to do with the political ties between the City of Cockburn and Labor?

In September last year, the first meeting of the Construction Reference Group (CRG) was called.

The CRG was established to allow members of the community to have input into the design of the project, but at the first meeting we were told that the design had been finalised and would not be changed. The meeting was dominated by Cockburn people, and attended by Cockburn council staff arguing Cockburn’s case.

We were told another CRG meeting would follow in October, where we would have access to traffic modelling and figures which justified the concept which was preferred at the time.

That never happened.

We didn’t hear anything until the transport minister announced the final design and we were informed of a CRG meeting scheduled for late January.

The meeting achieved very little.

Political games

The minister says ‘balance’ has been struck, but I see nothing of the sort. According to Ms Saffiotti, the final design addresses concerns from the Bibra Lake community and the City of Cockburn.

It appears Melville’s view has been shelved. Melville residents have been ignored, as have our staff who have worked tirelessly to achieve a better outcome for Melville residents. Not quite balance.

To me, all of this screams of payback. Labor’s way of thanking Cockburn for their support in opposing Roe 8, and for their support generally.

A quick online search reveals multiple Cockburn councillors are Labor aligned.

Conversely, it’s Labor’s way of punishing Melville because they think we’re a ‘Liberal’ council for supporting Roe 8 because it’s in the best interest of our ratepayers.

Most Melville councillors (with perhaps an exception or two) have put their hand up for the role, not to fulfil some allegiance to a political party, or to use it as a means of furthering parliamentary aspirations, but simply because we believe in making decisions which most benefit those we are elected to represent.

Perhaps premier McGowan and his government could give it a try.  The views expressed here are entirely mine and are not necessarily shared by the City of Melville or its council.

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