Residents opposed to the West Gate Tunnel left this week’s Hobsons Bay council meeting chanting “shame” after councillors voted to reverse official opposition to the project.
Cr Peter Hemphill, who moved the reversal motion, told a packed public gallery the council was not going to stop the project despite many misgivings about it, but would continue to advocate for the community.
Cr Tony Briffa, who had successfully moved a motion to oppose the project at the previous council meeting, was overseas.
Greens councillor Jonathon Marsden was the only one to vote against rescinding the council’s opposition.
“What does it mean to oppose the West Gate Tunnel project?,” he asked the meeting.
“Does it mean that we’ll stop talking the ministers’ calls? No.
“That we’ll down tools throughout 2018? No, of course not.
“That the CEO and the mayor will chain themselves to bulldozers? Probably not.
“It means we stand with our affected communities.”
The meeting heard the council had recently received commitments from the state government that included “significant funding” for sport and open spaces, and an undertaking to do a comprehensive traffic study and air-quality monitoring.
Cr Sandra Wilson sought to compose herself as she said it was “a very fraught and emotional time”.
“I think it’s easy to say that we support or oppose an infrastructure project, but what does that mean? We have to be at the table,” she said.
“All I can say is we’ve worked damn hard and will continue to do so.
“We’re not giving up.
“No one ever wanted this road but state governments will make decisions.”
After the meeting, Don’t Destroy Millers Road spokesman Chris Dunlevy said residents were disappointed by the council and state government.
“The signing of the contracts was rushed and completely reckless, knowing two parties plan to block it,” he said.
“The Andrews government has placed Victoria in a perilous position, and have done every single thing they lambasted the Napthine government about before the last election.
“We are upset Hobsons Bay City Council decided to rescind the motion.
“Hobsons Bay overwhelmingly opposes this project. It would be nice to all be on the same boat. Opposing it strongly is what Brooklyn and Altona North want.”
Rosa McKenna, from the Spotswood South Kingsville Residents Group, said residents were “shocked and disappointed” by the signing of contracts by the government and “disappointed but not surprised” by the council’s lack of foresight and courage.
“This is not over and an alliance of community groups is forming to make this government accountable for its lack of judgment in maintaining an alliance with and subsidising non-taxpaying company Transurban over community interests,” she said.
Hobsons Bay Residents Association convenor Jason Price said his group remained “strongly opposed to the West Gate Tunnel Project, AKA Maribyrnong Bypass, in its entirety”.