Transport petition stalls

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A PETITION with 1574 signatures urging the state government to review public bus transport on the Mornington Peninsula was knocked back by state parliament last week.

Nepean MP Martin Dixon was refused leave to table the petition by the Peninsula Residential Parks and Villages Group because it was “not in the correct form”.

The group’s chairman, Bob Dalmau, said the refusal was a “roadblock but we’ll get around it somehow”.

“It is very frustrating; they just threw it out,” he said.

“We are doing this for the community which needs more buses down here.

“Whole communities at Mornington, Hastings, Dromana and Martha Cove are not being serviced and that’s why we want this review so we can get these sites fixed up.”

At the start of their campaign Mr Dalmau and members were pictured in Main St, Mornington seeking signatures to the petition aimed at ending a “legacy of under-investment in public transport over many years” (“Call for Transport Review” The News, 10/7/2017).

The petition was to be presented to Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, with a request that the review “identify and resolve some very important shortcomings in [bus] services”.

“Significant residential and commercial development has occurred over the past 20 years with little or no consideration given to the adjustment of existing public transport bus routes or new services,” Mr Dalmau said at the time.

“Our region is home to one of the state’s largest over-60s populations, with one-in-three people in this cohort.

“This group – the biggest user of public transport – is poorly serviced.”

The Peninsula Residential Parks and Villages Group, which represents the interests of caravan parks and and retirement village residents, asked Mornington Peninsula Shire for help with an advocacy plan to improve public transport on the peninsula. The shire’s infrastructure strategy acting manager Chris Munro told The News the group had “received advice and [was] now constructing a legally-worded petition to access a wider audience and get more signatures” on the petition.

Mr Dalmau last week said the state government was “not listening to us oldies, but we’ve got a lot of votes”.

“They don’t know our area and couldn’t care less about us. If we were a marginal seat I’m sure we’d be getting the review.”

The petition was rejected because, in accordance with strict parliamentary rules, the wording at the top must be reprinted on every page so that those signing can see what they are endorsing.

Now, the 1574 signatures on the original will have to be collected again and re-presented on a new petition, which could take several months.

Mr Dixon said the refusal was “very disappointing”.

“I will inform all the signatories of the petition, especially the ones from the electorate of the Member for Frankston (Labor’s Paul Edbrooke) that parliament has refused leave,” he said. “I certainly support the petition and the words of the petition and, as I said, it is very, very disappointing that it has not been allowed to be tabled.”

Electorate office manager and endorsed Liberal candidate for Nepean Russell Joseph said Mr Dixon spoke to the petition in his 90 second Members Statement and then sought leave to table the document “out of respect for the community members who, in good faith, collected those signatures and wanted them presented to the minister”.

He said the petition “could easily have been granted but [it] was refused by Labor on political grounds and not by the rules of parliament”.

“Mr Dixon has every right – in fact, it is good manners – to seek leave and table a document he is speaking to it,” he said.

A reformatted petition will be presented to parliament again in a couple of months, Mr Joseph said.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 5 September 2017

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