Boroondara Mayor Jane Addis said the council had received support in principle for additional parking funding from the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
“The ministry was prepared to support increases where there was clear justification and the project could go ahead if adequate funding was available. This approach may have been possible because the capacity existed within the fund, due to some projects not moving forward,” Addis said.
The government had to scrap a commuter car park project in Surrey Hills because the Victorian government was merging the station with nearby Mount Albert station.
The documents had been drawn up for review at a board meeting that was canceled once Frydenberg deleted the plans. The documents were days away from being made public, had the government not dropped the funding.
The freedom of information request was filed in March, before the Morrison government was defeated and Frydenberg lost her once secure seat to independent candidate Monique Ryan.
The car park expansion project at Camberwell station – which was under-budgeted by $7.12 million – had majority support for adding 87 parking spaces at a cost of $148,000 each, with 58% of residents supporting supported him.
Despite clear opposition to the Canterbury and Glenferrie proposals, Boroondara council were disappointed by the federal government’s about-face and argued that there was a significant lack of parking in those areas.
“Council officers have reviewed the consultation and feasibility work to determine the merit of the project and are expected to proceed with the implementation of a key plaza plan initiative and reduce demand for parking on local streets,” says the draft report concerning the plans for Canterbury station.
Addis said the council did not take action on the proposal. She said she was disappointed because the council lost the opportunity to consider community feedback after a “substantial investment of public funds” went into feasibility studies.
Councilor Victor Franco, a long-time critic of “ill-founded” plans in Canterbury and Glenferrie, said the plans were not based on a sound transport strategy, distracted advice and a waste of money.
“They were doing coarse pork barrel. But, fortunately, our community saw clearly. These projects should never have progressed as far as they did,” Franco said.
In 2021, the Federal Auditor General found that 77% of Commuter Car Park Fund projects were promised Coalition seats and that the grant process lacked transparency. A spreadsheet titled “Top marginal electorates” was used by the government to identify possible places for car parks.
The projects were supposed to reduce traffic congestion by encouraging people to drive to a train station and take public transport to and from the city.
Transportation and traffic impacts were the main reason residents opposed the proposals in Boroondara, but some survey respondents cited the “pork barrel” as a reason not to proceed.
“Have you heard of induced demand? That’s when you offer more parking spaces and get more traffic! said one person in response to Glenferrie’s proposal.
Of the Camberwell project, another said: ‘It’s really just another failed parking lot by the feds…trying to buy votes.’
Josh Frydenberg and the Department of Infrastructure, Transportation, Regional Development and Communications have been contacted for comment.
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