FRUSTRATED communities will pressure the Brumby Government for better public transport across Melbourne’s east with the collection of tens of thousands of signatures on a ‘Monster Petition’ launched today.

Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) chair and Shire of Yarra Ranges councillor Samantha Dunn said “We launched our Monster Petition today at Monash University in Clayton because, despite the huge numbers of students and staff travelling to this campus every day, it is still without adequate public transport infrastructure – it is a metaphor for the neglect of our region over many years”.

Like the suffragettes in 1891 who collected thousands of signatures on a monster petition supporting women’s right to vote, the eastern suburbs were being denied a resource available to people living elsewhere in Melbourne.

“The mayors and CEOs of the seven member councils that make up the ETC have come here today to join with the Monash Student Association, and everyone who is a member of the Monash community, to be the first of what we believe will be thousands of people to sign the Monster Petition,” she said.

Monash Student Association President Julian Campbell said people travelling to Monash University and the adjacent science and innovation precinct, which includes Australia’s only Synchrotron, were among those missing out under the Brumby Government’s Victorian Transport Plan.

“The ETC’s Monster Petition has our full support,” Mr Campbell said.

“We hope that it will finally get the message through to the Brumby Government that public transport is a serious issue in the east, not only for Monash students but for everyone who lives and works in this region.”

The suffragettes’ Monster Petition was about 260metres long and 200mm wide, made of paper glued to cotton and linen and rolled onto a cardboard spindle.

Cr Dunn said the ETC Monster Petition was made of multiple rolls of recyclable synthetic paper, each 15 metres long with two signature columns. The petition is housed in a custom-made timber box to facilitate its transport.

The Monster Petition will travel around the region for the rest of this year, hosted for three weeks by each of the ETC’s seven member councils before being presented to the Victorian Parliament.

Cr Dunn said the ETC was bitterly disappointed that the Victorian Transport Plan did not include any major initiatives to address the significant gaps in the provision of and planning for public transport in our region.

The petition will seek commitments from the Government to modify the plan to include:

  1. A full and public feasibility study for a heavy rail line to Rowville,
  2. A full and public feasibility study for a heavy rail line to Doncaster
  3. A greater commitment to the extension of the Metro rail tunnel from Domain to Caulfield,
  4. A full and public feasibility study for an increase in capacity on the Belgrave/Lilydale and Glen Waverly lines,
  5. Improved facilities for passengers, particularly at interchanges located in central activity districts – Ringwood, Dandenong and Box Hill,
  6. Fully accessible public transport facilities and vehicles 

“The State Government has never provided a reason why rail extensions to Rowville and Doncaster shouldn’t be built,” Cr Dunn said.

“We’re asking that proper public feasibility studies be conducted to assess the viability of delivering heavy rail services to these two areas.

“Governments have been promising major investment in public transport for the eastern region since 1969. Forty years on and our residents are still waiting.

“We’re putting the Government on notice that it’s time to end the neglect.”

The Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) represents about one million people living in the municipalities of Monash, Whitehorse, Dandenong, Manningham, Knox, Maroondah and Yarra Ranges.

The ETC advocates for sustainable and integrated transport services to reduce the level of car dependency to secure the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the Melbourne’s outer east.