Greens see red after anti-truck motion is defeated

Political slanging match erupted in Victorian Parliament after the Greens tried to pass a motion targeting trucks in Melbourne's west

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | February 21, 2013

A political slanging match erupted in the Victorian Parliament yesterday after the Greens tried to pass a motion targeting trucks in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Greens MP Colleen Hartland called for a review into the impact and cost of truck traffic on residents in Melbourne’s west but was met with objections from the State Government, which used its numbers to defeat the motion.

Hartland wants trucks banned from using residential streets, but Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Edward O’Donohue rubbished her proposal as unrealistic.

"From listening to Ms Hartland’s contribution, members might think that every supermarket, grocery store and milk bar would somehow be connected to the freight rail network," O’Donohue says.

"The reality of our infrastructure and city is that it is not feasible."

He says moving freight by trucks will remain a necessity, regardless of which political party is running the state.

After failing to secure enough votes to pass the motion, Hartland accused Premier Ted Baillieu’s government of putting the interests of the trucking industry before the needs of residents.

"This act by the Government shows that trucking giants and port industry profits are dictating policy, to the exclusion of community health and easing the pain of traffic congestion," Hartland says.

"This is clearly not sustainable on so many levels including air pollution, traffic congestion, safety, amenity, road maintenance costs and carbon emissions."

Hartland claims more than 21,000 trucks use roads within the inner west each day and that the Government has failed to address the issue. She says residents are being kept awake at night and exposed to carcinogenic diesel pollution.

However, Liberal MP Andrew Elsbury, whose electorate is in the western suburbs, says the Government is working to provide a fix.

He cited the expansion of Webb Dock to allow containers to be stored onsite at the Port of Melbourne.

"That will mean the empty containers currently being stored in the western suburbs of Melbourne will not have to be carted back and forth from ports to storage yards located in the western area of Melbourne," Elsbury says.

He says he also supports the construction of the proposed 18km East West Link to end the need for trucks to use residential streets to get to the Port of Melbourne.

"It will provide us with the ability to move trucks from the outer suburbs of Melbourne into the port without them using the residential streets they currently use as rat runs. There will be an access point in and out of the tunnel at the Port of Melbourne," Elsbury says.

He also says governments need to think smarter about using trucks, highlighting the importance of higher productivity vehicles to the freight task.

"For every one of these HPV trucks, you take two other prime movers off the road, so they have proven to be quite effective," he says.

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