With the state election looming, FFRR invited the major candidates for the state seat of Footscray to meet with us. Invitations went to Marsha Thomson (Labor, sitting member), Ken Betts (Liberal), Catherine Cumming (Independent), Janet Rice (Greens). We also invited representatives of the print media.
The objective of the meeting was to have the candidates hear our specific concerns and for us to hear what each of the candidates will commit to do for us.
Below are the main questions asked and the crux of the responses from the candidates:
- Question of support for acquired residents.
- Staying in Footscray - will we be forced out of our community?
- Government loans, welfare officer etc
- Noise attenuation
- What will the land be used for, higher density living, open space?
- Footscray traders have concerns around the solution to the loss of the parking spaces at the station.
- Noise attenuation and barriers
- Concerns around the antiquity of the trains running on the lines. Will more modern quieter trains be purchased?
- Disturbance of contaminated soil during the construction, how will it be monitored and who will monitor it?
- Concerns around those who would like to be acquired but have not been given the option.
- Urban planning, how will your government create something great?
- World best practice on noise abatement, why are we so far behind?
- Article in The Age around the re-phasing of funds, how does that affect the project?
- Question to the Lib/Coalition, can/will you put the brakes on this project?
- "When will you be supporting us and not the masters at Spring Street?"
- Where is the support 'right now' when it's needed? Particularly for long-term residents.
Response from the candidates:
- Ken Betts (Liberal)
Committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the whole plan and process. Can’t talk about the transport plan as it will be unveiled next Monday (15/11). Monitor and manage the situation.
- Catherine Cumming (Independent)
Will lobby for the land around the railway to be developed for the community. Kindergartens, Seniors Halls etc. Compensation for those left behind around double glazing for noise. Lobby for new carpark in Footscray proper. Will represent us directly on these issues.
- Janet Rice (Greens)
Commit that the poor planning process would never be repeated and instead employ Worlds Best Practice (ie- Vancouver example) for future developments. Make it a public process with an independent board and community engagement in the true sense of the word. Noise is a critical issue, look at electrifying the line to Geelong. Advocating for government loans & anyone who is wanting to be acquired to be acquired. Strong argument for multi level car park in Footscray proper.
- Marsha Thomson (Labor)
Community support worker is being employed. Buyers advocates available to help residents locate properties in Footscray. The land will be developed and there is plan for a bike path. Amenity is important. Will follow up where possible if people can send through specific issues to her.
This account is heavily edited for brevity. We asked the candidates to focus on the practical things they could and would do for us, as we were not particularly interested in further general statements of concern and support. After sifting through everything the candidates spoke about, these are the main points they made to actually address our issues.