I raise a matter tonight for the attention of the Minister for Transport Infrastructure regarding the Suburban Rail Loop and the proposed stabling site in Heatherton in the middle of my electorate. In December last year residents in the vicinity of this proposed stabling site received, two weeks before Christmas, a letter telling them that the area in the vicinity of their homes had been chosen and was likely to be the location of train stabling for the Suburban Rail Loop.
Now, this site that has been chosen, or identified, by the government is in fact a parcel of land which has been long reserved for what has been known as the chain of parks, a ring of green parks—green wedge land—through the central south-eastern suburbs to provide a reservation for recreational activities, for nature activities, which this government had previously committed to.
Yet two weeks before Christmas the residents in Heatherton received letters saying, ‘Well, no, we’ve changed our mind. You’re not going to have a chain of parks anymore. You’re going to have a train stabling yard’.
This has caused great concern to the residents immediately affected in the Heatherton area, but it has also caused considerable concern to the broader community in the south-eastern and eastern suburbs.
One of the great needs in that part of Melbourne is increased availability of recreational facilities, particularly increased availability of sporting fields, and the chain of parks was going to be the source of that. So this does not just affect the residents of Heatherton, it affects hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs more broadly who all expected that area would be available for recreation and for playing fields.
So I raise this with the Minister for Transport Infrastructure to highlight the need for the government to identify an alternative site for the suburban rail link train stabling. We are told this link will connect all the major rail lines, so there are numerous locations on this line where train stabling could be identified and established—not in an area which has already been set aside for recreation, not in an area that is in the middle of the green wedge and not in an area which this government had previously already committed to maintaining as part of the chain of parks.