The Minister for Public Transport Martin Pakula attended a crowded meeting of 93 residents and traders affected by the Regional Rail Link Proposal, at the invitation of the 'Fair-go for Footscray Rail Residents' group.
The meeting was held on Saturday 31st July, from 12:30 to 2:00pm, at the Footscray Senior Citizens Centre, 130 Buckley Street Footscray.
Affected residents and traders put their questions to the Minister and department officials firmly and passionately, with the respect afforded to invited guests.
The Minister got to hear directly from residents and traders about breakdowns in key project processes - including a general lack of clear, written information, a failure to contact various sub-groups of residents and traders and ongoing ambiguity around project time-lines. Further questions were raised around the issues of acquisition process, ongoing 'liveability' for those not being acquired, and duty-of-care and respect for elderly residents and those with limited English language.
The message to the Minister from those at the meeting is that people are looking for a fair, equitable and respectful process, and that this was not what they were seeing so far.
The overwhelming message from residents facing acquisition is that they were desperately worried about also being forced to move from their community of Footscray. Noriko Tabei, local business owner and resident said “Footscray is our home and we just want to know that this won't all result in us being pushed out altogether".
The Department has requested affected residents and business owners provide submissions by the 19th August to detail their concerns or issues around the Regional Rail Link Project. Residents highlighted the difficulty they had in providing written submissions in the limited time available when they had been provided with so little written information to go on. In response, the Minister instructed the Department to provide a package of written information to affected residents and businesses by early the following week.
The Fair-go for Footscray Rail Residents group commends Minister Pakula for attending the meeting to hear people's concerns first-hand. The group welcomes commitments to provide information to residents and traders, but notes the lengthy delay in getting this vital information to the affected people.
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