Being an advocate during an election year always provides a unique insight into what is deemed important by community and also provides a strong indication of the strength of our democracy.

As Spring 2022 arrives, we can reflect over two years of exhausting and anxious experiences wrenched by the pandemic. Just this week, I had a planned site visit of a facility cancelled due to some participants involved being COVID positive. The pandemic is not over, but the effects on our psyche and the strain on our public health systems will continue for some time.

In Victoria, we have two elections this year. Political pundits are analysing voter patterns from the May Federal Election for lessons learnt as we race towards the November Victorian election.

What is clear is that Australians want to be heard. They want to have a voice on the issues that are important to them and their families.  In our region, there will be plenty of focus on key seats which include two long-term Members of Parliament retiring and the potential for a raft of independents to put up their hands.

The Committee for Geelong continues to talk to the Victorian Government and the Opposition about our priorities, which includes transport infrastructure, public transport planning, cultural tourism, the City Deal and Revitalising Central Geelong progress and the Geelong Gallery re-development. With the 2026 Commonwealth Games being planned there is a growing pressure to deliver on the required infrastructure in record time.

A key part of our future is making sure our public transport system is fit for purpose. Part of this is the Geelong Faster Rail project.

Currently we are seeing significant investment into the Waurn Ponds to South Geelong rail line duplication. This includes a new design for South Geelong Station which has a planned second platform and pedestrian overpass and is currently out for consultation.  However, we are yet to see plans for the duplication of the Geelong to South Geelong tunnel nor progress on a second tunnel from Newport into Melbourne. All of these elements are required to ensure we fulfil the Geelong Faster Rail vision.

The need for this second tunnel from Newport – called ‘Metro Two’ – has been recently publicised due a new push from a Melbourne-based group of councils.

Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp has gathered together nine councils – Melbourne, Darebin, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Yarra – to lobby government under the collective name of the M9.

Capp has called on the government to embark on early works and scoping for Metro Two, a $12 billion-to-$20 billion project that has been highlighted by Infrastructure Victoria as a key economic priority.

In Victoria’s Infrastructure Strategy 2021-2051 document, the direct recommendation states that we need a business case for the Melbourne Metro Two Tunnel project within five years. This will include the need to protect the land required to construct it. It also states the need to consider using the tunnel to re-route Geelong services directly to Southern Cross and consider new stations or relocate existing stations.

Geelong needs to be vocal about the need for Metro Two. This project is a priority for the Committee for Geelong and a key reason for our support regarding the move to bring the Geelong-Melbourne rail back to the Werribee line.

Last week, we were fortunate to meet with the Victorian Treasurer and highlight the importance of Geelong Faster Rail and the need for progress on Metro Two. This is an essential long-term project for Geelong as the capital city of the state’s fastest growing region.

With battlelines being drawn on key infrastructure projects and election commitments, let’s use this opportunity to build on the Geelong Faster Rail and be vocal about next steps to all political parties. 

Jennifer Cromarty

CEO, Committee for Geelong

Image: Regional Rail Revival