ON Tuesday Member for Western Victoria Joshua Morris MP was joined by Shadow Minister for Public Transport, David Hodgett MP, to discuss the Ballarat Railway Precinct Redevelopment with public transport users and local residents.
“The Melbourne-centric Andrews Labor Government is continuing to fail Ballarat residents on public transport with their botched plan for the Ballarat Railway Precinct Redevelopment,” Mr Morris said. “Despite promising to fund the redevelopment per the Master Plan produced by the City of Ballarat and released in 2014, the Andrews Labor Government has since torn up this Master Plan and replaced it with a dog’s breakfast which reduces car parks, shrinks the exhibition space, and turns a world-class hotel into a block of serviced apartments.
“Not only that, but the lack of an integrated bus interchange inside the railway precinct, like those at the railway stations in Geelong and Bendigo, means that commuters have to walk long distances to catch connecting services. It’s no wonder the people of Ballarat feel they have been short changed.” Mr Hodgett claimed that local MPs Sharon Knight and Geoff Howard weren’t listening to the local community. “They should be spending this money on the transport hub here and preserving Ballarat’s 1862 rail heritage,” he said.
“Ballarat is growing and you need a bus interchange incorporated into the railway precinct, you need plenty of car parking. Clearly having a bus interchange out on a residential street is not working, residents are unhappy with that.”
Mr Hodgett added that he called upon the Andrews Labor Government to start listening to the community and go back to the original plans that they promised before the election. “When we were in government we worked with the local Ballarat council to develop a master plan,” Mr Hodgett said.
“Daniel Andrews went to the last election saying there would be 3000 metres of exhibition space, 420 car parks, a new taxi rank, a bus interchange incorporated into the station precinct and a 4-star hotel. That’s a far cry from what we are seeing now.
“We are seeing half that exhibition space slashed, the car park slashed to 270 and I believe you are not getting a 4-star hotel, you are getting serviced apartments.” If they were in government Mr Hodgett said they would go back to the original master plan.
“It shouldn’t be for local MPs or government to dictate what the residents should get,” he said. “Local people should make local decisions.” A media release earlier this month from Mr Howard and Ms Knight, states in part, “The project will transform the historic heart of the city into a vibrant, accessible and connected commercial community hub which will restore the prominence of the precinct’s heritage. It will inject at least $44 million into the Ballarat economy via the historic station precinct and will include: A modern 4.5 star 77 room hotel to be run by Quest; 1,700m2 conference centre, a 300-seat theatrette and a 300-seat banquet room within the Goods Shed; 900m2 of retail and dining options within the Goods Shed and a public plaza for community events; 420 car parks with 270 for commuters and 150 for hotel patrons, with scope for future expansion.”