Hurstbridge railway station car parking

I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Public Transport — again. I am always up talking to the Minister for Public Transport. This is an issue I have previously raised in this place and a matter that I understand she is very aware of. The action I seek is an upgrade to the Hurstbridge train station car park. There is an increasing number of commuters who drive to the station and use the Hurstbridge line on weekdays — and these are not just locals; they are people who are coming from Doreen, the Kinglake Ranges and the Nillumbik rural hinterland. The current overflow car park is on rail reserve land on the Greysharps Road side of the line, and it is gravel. Commuters have been using the rail reserve for car parking for some time.

Last year the operator, Metro Trains Melbourne, put signs up with ‘Authorised vehicles only’, to restrict the parking there, following a report to Metro Trains and the transport ombudsman after an injury to a passenger, Lois Needham. Lois feels pretty upset that Metro Trains has put the signs up there, and she feels like she is being blamed for asking for safety measures there. At the time, and still now to be honest, I thought the response to prevent parking on the rail reserve was an overreaction, and I was also critical that the operator did not communicate it to commuters in an appropriate fashion.

I am very grateful to the minister’s staff and to VicTrack for assisting me with advice over time on how we can try to attract the required funding to get this parking area fixed and operational. There is a dedicated competitive train station car parking fund which I lobbied unsuccessfully for last year, and I continue to advocate to have this car park included in any future works from this fund, or funded any other way, for that matter. Of course pressure will be taken off the Hurstbridge railway line car parks because of the many Doreen and Mernda commuters that use them. That Mernda rail project, as the minister said only this week, is ahead of schedule and using Australian steel.

I do want to, while I am on my feet, just counsel the member for Lowan and ask her to understand that the former member for Northcote’s children are old enough to read Hansard. Everyone on this side of the house was Fiona’s friend. I was at the branch meeting when she joined the party more than 20 years ago. We are deeply offended by what the member said. She should never use the death of a member of this place, who was so loved by all of us, for politics.