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The Issues Monitor March 2015: Victoria

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Top issues facing Victoria

Victorians worry about transport. We always have, and probably always will.

Across the five years we have been administering the Issues Monitor, Victorians have consistently demonstrated more concern about ‘Transport’ issues relative to the balance of Australians. For example, Victorians surveyed between January and March selected ‘Transport’ as the third most important issue facing our state, an issue which was eighth most important for all other Australians. Given this, it’s not surprising that Victorian transport projects are high-profile, contentious and often discussed at an ideological level.When these projects get politicked, Victorians notice.

East-West Link was politicked by all sides. Ultimately the project and Victorians lost out. It remains to be seen whether the recently re-announced and rejuvenated Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel will receive the same treatment. One would think not, given investment in public transport has broader appeal than road. In a recent survey we asked 3,000 Victorians to priortise attributes that make somewhere a good place to live. Victorians were twice as likely to select ‘reliable and efficient public transport’ than ‘a lack of road congestion’. In fact, ‘reliable and efficient public transport’ was considered the fourth most important attribute behind ‘feeling safe’, ‘high quality health services’ and ‘affordable decent housing’. ‘A lack of road congestion’ was stuck in traffic, and came in 14th.

While it is true that we Victorians worry about transport and are more supportive of rail relative to road, right now a lack of jobs trumps all. ‘Unemployment’ has been the second most important issue facing Victoria for one year and for the past six months has competed with ‘Healthcare’ for the number one position.

Big infrastructure is usually sold twice. First as an economic stimulant, then as a legacy dividend. Scrapping East West Link was a bold move given actual unemployment rates are the highest they have been for several years. This decision cost Victoria jobs, a fact not lost on Victorians. It also cost the government stories about jobs. The ALP took away the stimulant, by arguing the legacy was not worth the outlay.

With major construction on Melbourne Metro Rail not beginning until 2018, Premier Andrews and Minister Pallas have the responsibility in their maiden May budget to start re-building Victorians’ confidence in governments’ decision making. Doing so will assist in the delivery of much-needed jobs and hopefully a legacy of sensible, equitable, enabling infrastructure.

Last updated April 2015