The State Roads Minister has raised the ire of Maribyrnong residents complaining about trucks on residential streets by claiming they are “playing Kumbaya with the Greens”.

Luke Donnellan made the comments while visiting OneSteel at Laverton North on Wednesday to announce there would be 89 per cent local content on the $5.5 billion Western Distributor Project.

He said this would include the design and construction of the tunnel, road work and ramps.

Mr Donnellan said there would also be 82 per cent local content in the gantries.

At least 10 percent of hours worked on the project will be provided by Victorian apprentices, trainees and cadet engineers, he said.

Mr Donnellan said “local” content meant Australia-wide, but Victoria was well placed to provide steel.

“CityLink-Tullamarine widening, for argument’s sake, has steel from OneSteel,” he said.

He said the Western Distributor would create 5600 jobs during construction and take 6000 trucks off local streets.

Mr Donnellan criticised a planned protest by Maribyrnong Truck Action Group on the corner of Francis Street and Williamstown Road from 8am during Thursday’s morning peak.

Call for bans

MTAG wants permanent truck bans implemented when the Western Distributor opens and world’s best practice ventilation stacks on the tunnel.

Protesters say that with $13 tolls on the Western Distributor, trucks will use Yarraville as a rat run.

“I don’t think protesting there is actually going to assist in getting the outcome,” Mr Donnellan said.

“It’s fine to do kumbaya with the Greens, but what we’re doing is, we’re working with industry and the local community.

“We’re obviously already putting in curfews. We’re getting on with building the Western Distributor. We are taking action to deal with this.

“It’s fine for others, if they’re a bit frustrated, they want everything done immediately – well, it doesn’t work that way.

“You’ve actually got to work with the community, bring the industry with you and get a fair and balanced outcome for both the local residents and the operators of the businesses in the local community.”

MTAG secretary Martin Wurt said the community’s concerns are valid and the minister was out of line for attacking the messenger.

“I would expect the Roads Minister to get on with the job of getting trucks off the street and protecting the health of our children,” he said.

“MTAG is putting on the protest tomorrow, there’s no-one from the Greens speaking.”

Mr Wurt said MTAG works with politicians from all parties in its mission to get trucks off residential streets.

“We grab support wherever we can.”

Rat running

Mr Wurt said there is already a massive problem with trucks avoiding the existing tolls on the Bolte Bridge and rat running through residential streets and residents are yet to be convinced truck operators will pay $13 to us the tunnel unless forced off local roads.

Western suburbs Greens MP Colleen Hartland said it was disappointing the Minister is “resorting to silly insults”.

“The current truck curfews are are still resulting in our children to be hospitalised from asthma at double the rate of the eastern suburbs,” she said.

“Despite this we are not asking for 24 hour truck curfews on residential streets immediately, just for a commitment that they will be implemented if and when the tollway freeway is built. That’s more than reasonable.”

Ms Hartland said the community should not have to wait until after the tollway is built to get a straight answer on whether container trucks will  be forced to use it.

Spotswood and South Kingsville residents have also been protesting against the Western Distributor, saying it will shift trucks onto residential streets in Hobsons Bay.

“We’re not doing that at the moment,” Mr Donnellan said.

“What we’re doing is, we’re going through an ESS (Environment Effects Statement) process to try and ensure that in terms of the design of the project, we maximise the benefit for those residents of Spotswood, we maximise the benefits for those residents for Yarraville and the like.

“This is a balance to try and ensure that we remove as many trucks as possible and improve the general environment of both those communities.”

– with Benjamin Millar

Also see:

Spotswood, South Kingsville residents rally against Western Distributor

People protesting at Donald McLean Reserve in The Avenue, Spotswood ,against the new Western Distributor freeway coming too close to the kindergarten and McLean Reserve.Photo by Damjan Janevski.

People protesting at Donald McLean Reserve in The Avenue, Spotswood ,against the new Western Distributor freeway coming too close to the kindergarten and McLean Reserve.Photo by Damjan Janevski.