Back in 2001 Labor MP Craig Langdon announced in publicity flyers for a community meeting at Ivanhoe that “Labor’s policy is to not build any freeway through View Bank, Heidelberg and Bulleen.” It was followed by then Transport Minister Peter Batchelors’ statement to Parliament on 9 October 2001 that the Labor Government would never, ever “build a freeway through the Yarra Flats to link the Eastern Freeway with the northern metropolitan ring road.” On 8 December 2008 Premier Brumby released the Victorian Transport Plan, revealing proposals for the North East Link project through Banyule. Then in June 2009 Mr Langdon arranged for road authority SEITA to inform residents on construction of the Mullam Mullam Tunnel, part of EastLink, apparently intending to reassure people that no harm would come from a freeway-in-a-tunnel through Banyule. Since then Mr Langdon has remained silent about Government plans for the Banyule freeway. That is until today. Community organisations have been taken by surprise at his sudden outburst and condemnation of Government plans for the North East Link.

Marion Ware, President of Friends of Banyule, commented:
“Our community group was established in July 2008 and the chief planks of our platform are sustainable transport solutions, freight on rail and opposition to the North East Link - a tunnel-in-a-freeway - through the Banyule flats and Warringal Parkland. These are of great significance to the environment and community of Victoria with an enormous wealth and diversity of species of native fauna and flora. The proposed North East Link, if constructed, would not only destroy important environmental habitats but also Australian bush heritage landscapes which were the birthplace of Banyule's most precious historical asset... the iconic Heidelberg School of painting. It also poses a threat to Heide Museum of Modern Art and its beautiful garden surrounds. The freeway/road tunnel off the Eastern Freeway will traverse Banksia Park, bang up against Heide. It will not disappear neatly underground but will require enormous on/off ramps and a giant pollution vent stack at the entrance "portal". We intend to ensure that the proposed North East Link will become the No 1 election issue in the seat of Ivanhoe.”

Julianne Bell Secretary of Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. stated:
Our coalition of over 80 environment, heritage, transport and community member groups, including Friends of Banyule, have opposed freeways and advocated instead funding of efficient and extended public transport. Together with the Coalition for Transport Action Groups (CTAG) we managed to have the notorious East West Link through inner Melbourne and Royal and Holland Parks “deleted” from the December 2008 Victorian Transport Plan. (It is, however, still on the drawing board.) Battles are still raging over freeways - WestLink through the Western Suburbs and the Peninsula Link where a picket line of local community groups has held off bulldozers for the past 8 weeks. We welcome Mr Langton’s stand on the North East Link - although somewhat belated - and consider that it reveals the insanity of funding freeways when the public is calling out for public transport and for freight to be transferred to rail.”

Starting next week, Friends of Banyule will be firing up their publicity campaign “No Freeway through Banyule”, including holding stalls in local markets and shopping centres. It is expected to attract wide-spread community support. We will be making the Banyule tunnel-in-the-freeway the Number One Issue for the seat of Ivanhoe in the forthcoming By Election (if it takes place) and in the 2010 Election.

Friends of Banyule - Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc.
Contact: Marion Ware President Friends of Banyule Inc. Mobile 0413418832
Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. Mobile: 0408022408