Planning Minister Matthew Guy says “We heard You!”

PCAG were invited to a meeting by the State Planning Minister The Hon Matthew Guy to discuss the issues we are currently facing, and how future plans for Point Cook and the surrounding area will deal with these. Also in attendance were Peter Seamer – Executive Officer of the Growth Areas Authority, MP Bernie Finn and MP Andrew Elsbury being the members for Western Metropolitan Region.

The meeting began with Andrew Elsbury introducing Matthew Guy to the group, Mr Guy began with “call me Matthew” and thanked us for coming to the meeting. He said that there wasn’t a day in his office that Point Cook didn’t come into discussion in some way. He congratulated the PCAG for “making ourselves known” and for “making enough noise”. He assured us with a few humorous murmurs from around the room “we heard you, we heard you in the papers, we heard you on the news, in all the letters (prompted Mr Seamer), we have heard you, we’re here aren’t we?” This prompted a few chuckles from the members of our group; it was a positive start to the meeting.

Sprawling a map of Wyndham across the table, which highlighted our growth areas and population hot spots, transport poor areas and circled intersections across the municipality in dire need of attention, Mr Guy began by saying he wanted us to understand that he had inherited the fiasco that is Point Cook without the funds to implement the necessary infrastructure neglected by the previous government. This much we knew. He went on to state that since he had been in power he had not approved a single new development in Point Cook; the ones that are continuing to go ahead were approved by the previous government. I personally acknowledged and thanked him for that on behalf of the PCAG.

We commenced general discussion about the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP), in particular the diamond interchange at Sneydes Rd. Mr Guy expressed that their intentions were to move quickly on the Werribee Employment Precinct (WEP) to help fund the construction of the interchange. He also acknowledged that if even funding wasn’t an issue that it would not be an overnight fix and gave realistic timelines of when it would be constructed. He stated that together with council they had put in a joint submission through the federal Suburban Jobs Program to form a three tiered funding commitment for the interchange to boost jobs to the area. We felt that this was a fair approach since The Labor Party had caused the growth explosion without providing sufficient vital infrastructure for the area to cope.

In further discussions about the WEP, Mr Guy explained that the pocket of land was geologically stable which made it highly suitable to establish the area as a major data centre. This would create much needed employment in the IT sector for the area, a real positive for Point Cook with so many residents in the industry living here.

We found Mr Guy to be well-versed on the transport issues of Point Cook. As a Planning Minister his main focus was to create employment in the area to help alleviate the transport issues. We discussed our disappointment in the State Budget in relation to roads funding, poor bus services, lack of station parking and train services as well as the impact the Regional Rail Link (RRL) will make on the surrounding area. We questioned him about issues surrounding North Melbourne station and the impact of the more trains to that station. He adequately explained that upgrades were going ahead to North Melbourne station as part of the RRL that would prevent the crisscross that currently occurs between suburban and country trains.

Also discussed were the plans for a Ferry Service to the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) being part of the transport solution for the area. Mr Guy explained the difficulties they are facing from old policy hurdles to funding in order to make this a reality. He said they were currently doing a feasibility study and mentioned those who were in support of plans. We expressed our reservations and had questions regarding the ferry that did not get answered due to time constraints but will most likely be answered through the feasibility study or in further discussions.

Mr Guy had another function to attend in Werribee and he had already run over time, Bernard Reilly thanked him on behalf of the group for his time. It went so quick and we had so much more to discuss. To our surprise Mr Guy offered to come back and have another meeting with PCAG. He then offered to come in peak hour traffic to experience firsthand the pain we feel in trying to get out of our own suburb. We were all very pleased. We felt he clearly understood the issues of Point Cook and he gave us hope that they were working towards viable solutions. It was a positive meeting.

We are not naive and we know that we need to hold Mr Guy and his Government accountable. We can only keep pushing the transport/infrastructure issues and continue making ourselves heard.

As Mr Guy was preparing to leave I couldn’t help myself from requesting Mr Elsbury take him via “Russian Roulette”. Mr Guy looked at me a little perplex so I explained that I meant the intersection Forsyth/Old Geelong Road. A death trap by day, but without a light pole at night time it was “Russian Roulette”. As he conversed with Mr Finn about it I cheekily asked if he could tack a light pole onto his expense account, lucky for me they both had a sense of humour. Hey, can’t blame me for trying!

This meeting was a real turning point for PCAG.  Despite only being an Incorporated Association for five short months, this meeting demonstrated the level of impact we have been able to make already. We are proud not only of ourselves but of everyone involved. The residents who have taken the time to write letters, send emails, comment in the papers and on our various social media profiles, called radio stations, attended meetings, became members supporting the group financially for our campaigns and even those who just bought a hot dog at our BBQ. We all achieved this together. No matter what anyone says it was a positive start and a big win for the Residents of Point Cook.

As I write this blog post today I am even more delighted to hear the news that the Point Cook West Precinct that we lobbied so hard for as a group has not been approved for development as a new suburb as part of the announcement that Matthew Guy made today. He was due to announce 6-8 new suburbs, with Point Cook West rumoured to be one of them. Matthew Guy seems to have stood by his word and Point Cook West has not been approved for development (at this time). It is equally pleasing to see that Matthew Guy is standing by the commitment he made in our meeting regarding the need to provide infrastructure prior to releasing more land for development in Point Cook.

This is a direct result of Point Cook residents fighting hard to ensure our community is developed in a sustainable manner. On behalf of PCAG, I would like to thank all those involved.

Comments

  1. Mr Guy is more than welcome to stay at my house and drive down point cook road in the chaos of a morning