THE state election battle for Frankston has intensified. Labor opposition leader Daniel Andrews visited Frankston train station last Friday morning to commit $50 million to transform the station precinct into a “state-of-the-art transport hub”.
The opposition leader opted to make the trip to Frankston on his large campaign bus, replete with Labor Party logos and Mr Andrew’s smiling face, instead of by rail.
Labor candidate for Frankston Paul Edbrooke, Carrum candidate Sonya Kilkenny and opposition transport spokeswoman Jill Hennessy joined Mr Andrews to outline the pre-election commitment to be delivered if Labor wins government on 29 November.
Mr Andrews vowed to make the train station and its surrounds “a precinct that Frankston will be proud of”.
Labor’s plans include a new retail strip and a multi-level car park. A “hub for local businesses and entrepreneurs, developed in partnership with Chisholm TAFE” will also be built as part of the $50 million project.
Mr Andrews said the station precinct master plan would be “fast tracked” and an incoming Labor government would establish a Station Precinct Taskforce to begin work on the transport project “within the first 100 days” of government.
“The Liberals promised to fix the precinct, but all they did was give it a new coat of paint,” Mr Andrews said. “We’ll bring in new employers, new visitors and new shops.”
Mr Edbrooke said “the heart of Frankston will be a safe, modern and thriving place of business and activity under an Andrews Labor government”.
Labor’s pledge to revamp Frankston station was welcomed by Frankston Council. The council has been pushing for both major political parties to commit to major projects as part of its ‘Speak Up For Frankston’ campaign.
New Frankston mayor, Cr Sandra Mayer, said the $50 million announcement is “the best news so far” in the lead up to this month’s state election.
The Frankston Community Coalition, a citizen lobby group formed to pressure politicians to give Frankston “a better deal” in the lead up to the state election, described Labor’s $50 million commitment as “a game-changer for Frankston”.
“The Frankston Community Coalition is thrilled with Labor’s announcements. It is the strongest commitment by any political party in 40 years to create a safe, modern and attractive public transport precinct in Frankston,” group spokeswoman Christine Richards said.
The Frankston Community Coalition has been highlighting the fact that former Liberal transport minister Ray Meagher promised a new Frankston transport hub in 1975 which was never built.
“If Labor is elected, the money that Paul Edbrooke and his party have pledged will go a long way to helping to solve some major problems holding back the progress of Frankston. It demonstrates a clear commitment by Labor to the future of Frankston and its people,” Ms Richards, a former Frankston mayor, said.
Ms Richards said the establishment of a taskforce within 100 days of the state election is pivotal.
“This is a particularly important part of Labor’s commitment, given how many times promises to create a more functional train station precinct have gone off the rails,” she said.
The taskforce will include Frankston council representatives, Victoria Police, Public Transport Victoria, Frankston traders and businesses and Chisholm TAFE and will consult with the community about the station revamp.
Labor said “a permanent police beat within the precinct” will also be introduced “to clamp down on drug activity and crime”.
Mr Andrews said there would also be a commitment to “clean up” Young St. New footpaths, seating and lighting and bus shelters will be installed.
Hours after Labor’s $50 million announcement on Friday, Liberal candidate for Frankston Sean Armistead visited the train station with Transport Minister Terry Mulder to make a low-key and seemingly rushed pledge that a re-elected Coalition government would invest $33 million to upgrade the area.
Incumbent independent MP Geoff Shaw, elected as a Liberal candidate in 2010, welcomed both parties’ pledge to invest in Frankston’s future.
However, a spokesman for Mr Shaw said the “fantastic” promises were also “reactionary” and Mr Shaw believed voters would realise the Liberal and Labor parties are “throwing out cash” just weeks out from the election.
He said Mr Shaw would work to ensure whichever party wins government “delivers on its promises” if he is re-elected as Frankston’s MP.