Situations like this tend to bring out the best and the worst of people. We have seen this over the last couple of days with public statements from Maribyrnong councilors on the impact of of the RRL on Footscray residents.
Mayor Sel Sanli said he believed the RRL would “change us for the
better” but he would fight “tooth and nail” to ensure the community got
the best it could. We were heartened by these supportive comments. Cr Sanli made contact several weeks ago to express his concern about the welfare of residents affected by the regional rail project, and on a practical level he organised meeting rooms for our residents' group gatherings. Councilor Sanli has responded to this issue on a very human level and we commend him for that.
In stark contrast are the mean-spirited comments of Cr Michael Clarke, “The impact on the community is remarkably small ... and it’s
an opportunity I don’t think we’ll see again in our lifetime.”
Not a word of concern for the many residents and traders - Maribyrnong City ratepayers and community members - affected by this enormous change. The following response from one of the affected residents points out where Cr Clarke gets it wrong:
Michael Clarke - you have completely missed the point. As a person who
will lose their home to this project I am both insulted and maddened by
your comments. I am not against the project, nor am I saying not in my
backyard, my issue comes from the complete absence of consultation and
information from the government around this project...
Clarke responded later to a letter from another resident:
Hi [name removed]
I'm very sorry about the impact of the regional rail link on you and your
family. However, the reality is that over 1 million additional people will
move into the West. Could you please give me a transport strategy for the
mass movement of the commuter public that will have less of an impact. I
genuinely ask this question. If you can give me a viable alternative I give
you my commitment to fully and vigorously pursue your proposal.
I'm sorry but unless you can suggest an alternative I must stand by my
Look forward to hearing from you.
Cr Michael C Clarke
Quite apart from the complete lack of sensitivity, Mr Clarke once again fails to comprehend the residents' concerns:
- This large group of residents and traders (90+ people) has never expressed opposition to the RRL project in general. There is no 'NIMBY' motivation here.
- The overriding concern of the affected residents is the risk that we will be forced to leave Footscray. This is a powerful statement of just how much it means to us all to be part of and remain in this wonderful community. One would have thought our Councilors would be deeply proud of this.
- The process of notice and consultation for this project has been exceptionally poor in comparison to any other similar project. From the shocking way in which we learned of the pending acquisitions to the almost complete lack of information and absurdly short period of time given to us for formal response, the process has been a travesty.
- As a Victorian, Mr Clarke is entitled to enthuse over the benefits of the RRL project to the state as a whole, but he should pause to remind himself that he was elected by the people of Maribyrnong to represent - first and foremost - the interests of this municipality.
Had Mr Clarke made any effort since July 12th to speak with any of the affected residents personally, he would have learned these things.
Read the full article
in the Maribyrnong Leader newspaper.