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Victorian transport network build slammed by Auditor-General

A report released by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office has delivered a scathing critique of Victoria’s integrated transport planning.

According to the audit report, documents issued by the Department of Transport (DOT) that were meant to provide a view of their transport plan had failed to meet legislative requirements.

In fact, they found a transport plan absent.

Leader of the Transport Matters Party Rod Barton MP said the report recently released by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office shed new light on the lack of transparency inherent in the planning and execution of these projects.

“Communities are key stakeholders. They want to be involved in the projects, they do bring skills and they can contribute to better outcomes,” Barton said.

“The report indicates a serious need for more processes that engage in genuine, transparent and constructive community consultation. We cannot continue to be sidelined.”

Most of the documents referred to by the DoT are not publicly available nor accessible to other agencies or stakeholders.

Even with so many projects underway, there was scarce evidence of short or long-term planning to integrate services, engage with the community and achieve integrated decision making.

Barton believes this lack of transport planning is evident in the Eastern Metropolitan Region, where projects are being pushed through with no genuine efforts for community consultation.

Barton, whose constituents are inundating his office with concerns relating to a complete lack of community consultation on projects, believes without stakeholder consultation at the centre of transport planning, the projects will fail to meet the needs of the community.

To date communities had received little to no consultation on the impacts of works approved for the North East Link, the Hurstbridge line duplication and the roundabout on Eltham Road.

In the report the Victorian Auditor General’s Office concluded the absence of a transport plan as required by the Act, during a decade of unprecedented investment in transport infrastructure, created risks of missed opportunities to sequence and optimise the benefits of these investments to best meet Victoria’s transport needs.

“The documents DoT identifies as comprising the transport plan do not fully meet legislative requirements,” said the report.

“This collection of documents does not provide a coherent and comprehensive transport plan.”

Only 14 of the 29 completed plans DoT identifies as part of the transport plan have been published.

DoT’s public webpage on transport plans and strategies only lists, at present, three documents and makes no reference to the Act’s requirement for a transport plan.

An early 2018 review on the organisational and operational issues impeding the realisation of Transport for Victoria’s (TfV) vision found that despite the intentions communicated upon TfV’s creation in 2017, senior leaders across the sector rarely met.

It also found governance models were ineffective due to a lack of clear decision rights.

DoT had also failed across the board in regard to wholesale recommendations made and identified in a number of Victorian Auditor-General Office performance audit reports made since 2010.

“Contrary to the requirements of the Transport Integration Act 2010, there is no statewide transport plan that clarifies the objectives, priorities, performance measures and roles of all transport agencies in managing traffic congestion,” said the report.

“This means it is not clear whether strategic planning and investment by agencies in congestion relief is soundly based, integrated and aligned.”

It had also missed the mark in accordance to an audit report released in August 2013 titled Developing Transport Infrastructure and Services for Population Growth Areas.

“Land-use and transport strategies have lacked coordination and continuity, and developments have often superseded them before they are implemented. This has contributed to inadequate transport infrastructure and services in growth areas,” the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report stated.

It was reported this week that the West Gate Tunnel project had blown out its budget by as much as $3.3 billion.

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