Mr TUDGE (Aston) (9.44 am)—Yesterday a public transport forum was held at the City of Knox in Wantirna South in my electorate. Unfortunately I was unable to attend that forum because of parliamentary sittings. One of the issues that were discussed was the issue of the Rowville rail link. Had I been at that forum I would have expressed my very strong support for the plans. The plan for the Rowville rail link is for it to go from Huntingdale via Monash University to Stud Park in Rowville—about 12.3 kilometres.
In 2004 the Knox City Council commissioned a prefeasibility study into it, and what they concluded was that, if such a rail link were put in place, it would take the equivalent of a lane of traffic off the Monash Freeway. It would offer residents in Rowville a 30-minute commute to the CBD. They also found there would be very little provision required for the acquisition, because most of the alignment would be on the median strip of North and Wellington roads, and of course property acquisition is often one of the very large costs associated with rail extensions. They suggested there would be considerable economic benefits, including employment generation and the development of Rowville’s potential as an activity centre linked to Monash and to the jobs, educational and leisure opportunities of inner Melbourne. They suggested at the time it would cost up to about $420 million, bearing in mind that that is a few years old now.
This rail link has been on the agenda since 1969, when it was part of the Melbourne transport plan. But the key next step to make this happen is to do a full economic and engineering feasibility study. This is estimated to cost about $2 million. The state Labor government promised such a study back in 1999 but broke that promise. But I am very pleased that the state opposition have announced that, if they are to be elected in a few weeks time, they will institute that feasibility study and conduct it within the first 100 days of being in government, which is terrific news. The Greens have also supported it. The only party that has ruled it out is the state Labor Party.
We do need this feasibility study, and if it is conducted I am confident that it would come up positive. If it does, then I will be advocating very strongly for the rail link to be fully funded. And if the federal government is going to put federal dollars into urban rail projects then I will be advocating for some of that money to put into the Rowville rail link. It is a necessary part of our outer eastern infrastructure. It will take cars off our roads and ease congestion and it would be a very good asset for outer eastern Melbourne. (Time expired)