Shrugging off overwhelming community opposition to the deal and a concerted campaign from Save Our Station Ballarat, the Andrews government refuses to waiver from the sale, which includes a massive sweetener of $21 million to the developer.
Labor appears to think this will go unnoticed by voters in the lead-up to the November state election. It will be relying on a funding announcement late in the campaign of an extra $20 million, or thereabouts, to confuse voters into thinking they have dealt with the issues.
This announcement is planned to eclipse the sale, which is to proceed as planned – and which is against the public interest.
The $20 million will be for a bridge, ramps and lifts between train platforms, in order to comply with disability legislation, as well as traffic lights and other alterations to the Nolan Street site. Both elements should have been included in the project from the outset. Neither will be the best solution because they are after-thoughts. They fall short on both access and heritage. They were not in the so-called “masterplan” for the precinct.
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford is immune from any voter backlash due to her high place on Labor’s ticket for the upper house seat of Western Victoria. As Sharon Knight and Geoff Howard are both retiring, they have nothing to lose. The brunt of Labor’s refusal to listen is being borne by ALP hopefuls, Juliana Addison and Michaela Settle, neither of whom is in a strong position to advocate within the ALP machine.
Labor ignores its own candidates and treats the public as though they are stupid. SOS Ballarat knows the public will not be duped over this fiasco. Labor is selling our station short, and it is selling Ballarat’s heritage and transport future short, too!