Billson urges State ‘strategic’ rethink on Frankston rail ‘project’

Wednesday 10th February 2016

The State Labor Government has been urged to rethink its attitude to the Frankston Railway Station investment with local Federal MP, Bruce Billson saying it is a ‘strategic opportunity’ not to be missed and not simply a ‘project’.

Mr Billson told Federal Parliament that after highlighting how funding for the station upgrade and other projects and key decisions relevant to Frankston City should be a ‘catalyst to transform Frankston’, State Ministers had rejected his plea to have the Metropolitan Planning Authority lead a coordinated approach to the development of the rail precinct.

“I urged the State Government to be a part of lifting the ambition, vision and potential of the rail and other related projects which can be brought together, along with the private sector, as a catalyst to advance the function and vitality of Frankston,” Mr Billson said.

“The transport officials have been very workmanlike and competent in advancing the ‘make over’ of Frankston Station, but it could and should be so much more and approached as a strategic opportunity to transform our city as the learning heart, knowledge centre, research and commercialisation hub for the south-east – the ‘Fremantle of the East Coast’ if you will.

“This involves seizing the opportunity to strategically pursue this clear purpose, role and vision for our ‘city by the bay’. By pulling together the station funding and resources to further develop Frankston’s Chisholm TAFE campus and other community infrastructure, opportunities to bring Monash University closer into the Frankston CBD and by factoring in Peninsula Health’s future needs and relocation requirements from the Mt Eliza Centre, we can achieve truly transformational positive change.

“We have unmet student accommodation needs, scope to draw in Monash’s research and medical training opportunities and options around Peninsula Health’s potential relocation. There are ongoing Council office requirements to be considered, VicPol relies on leased property with limitations and then of course there is my vision for a post-secondary education learning plaza open to all providers, which I have given the working title of the Caroline Chisholm University College, and that seeks to lift local student aspiration and education participation.

“We must fully consider and integrate these land-use and future transport requirements and opportunities and to explore private sector engagement and potential investment.   This requires a whole-of-government, market-responsive approach best driven by a collaborative and commercially-experienced group like the Government’s strategic planning agency, the Metropolitan Planning Authority.

“Instead, State Labor Ministers have rejected my request and responded by reminding me that ‘the MPA is a strategic planning agency’ while asserting that the plan to improve Frankston station precinct is a ‘transport project’ that the Department of Transport will continue to oversee – Yes Ministers, that’s exactly why I made the request in the first place!

“With the limited vision of the State Labor Ministers treating the Frankston rail investment as just a ‘project’, we are denied any scope to see what can be achieved for our community with Commonwealth support through the Stronger Regions Fund.

“The Victorian Government needs to lift their vision and ambition from that of just getting ‘a project’ done to that of seeing this time as a strategy opportunity to transform our city, to encourage private sector investment and to realise that there are many moving parts in our great city,” Mr Billson said.

Mr Billson said in parliament that the State Government needed to reconsider its attitude to reject his request to ‘treat this as a strategic planning’ opportunity.  He will again pressure the State Government to appoint the Metropolitan Planning Authority to oversee a number of ‘delicious’ investment and transformational opportunities currently before Frankston.

Mr Billson’s speech can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/20K9m4P