Politics

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s $20 million promise could deliver “around 90” car parks in own seat


Plans for the Camberwell site show the local council plans “around 90” to be constructed.

Boroondara Council’s website says it “would be funded by the Australian government as part of its Urban Congestion Fund. We would receive $20 million from this fund to complete the project.”

Plans for the Camberwell site show the local council plans “around 90” to be constructed. (Boroondara Council)

If the project goes ahead with the funding commitment as is, it could work out to $222,222 per space but the costings are yet to be finalised and could be lower.

“How the Treasurer could come to the conclusion that $220K per car park represented value for money is beyond comprehension,” Independent Senator Rex Patrick told 9News.

“But he was blind to the question of value because he was engaged in pork barrelling —that is using taxpayers’ money to buy votes — and I guess he felt that no amount of money was too much to buy a vote for the Liberal Party, and particularly so when he was to be the direct beneficiary.”

The Auditor-General’s report into the car park fund found the project heavily favoured seats the government held or was targeting at the 2019 election.

Boroondara Council’s website says, “this would be funded by the Australian Government as part of its Urban Congestion Fund”. (Boroondara Council)

Shadow infrastructure minister Catherine King called the government the “most wasteful” since federation.

“This is the man in charge of our nation’s finances, but he thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to spend $20 million on 90 car parks, all in the hopes of swaying a few votes,” she said.

The project could come in under the $20 million commitment and is planned for a shopping centre car park, not at a train station, which is 450m away.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said: “In September 2021, Boorandara Council provided the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications with findings from its feasibility assessment which has identified that the commuter car park is expected to realise savings of more than $7 million against the budget of $20 million.”

The local council is seeking public feedback on the project with submissions to close on February 10, almost three years after the funding was announced.

“Spending that money on 90 car parking spaces is just ripping up our money and throwing it the wind,” Greens Senator Janet Rice said.

In May 2019, the Treasurer promised “increased capacity of up to 2000 new car park spaces” across his electorate of Kooyong.

The council is proposing “around 200” car parking spaces at the Wattle Valley Road car park in Canterbury. (Boroondara Council)

Projects were announced for Camberwell, Glenferrie, Canterbury and Surrey Hills and were to cost taxpayers $65 million.

9News understands at the time the government was working on an assumption 500 spaces would be built per site.

But council proposals for Camberwell, Glenferrie and Canterbury confirm 780 spaces are planned from $50 million worth of commitments.

Proposed Kooyong car park projects

  • Camberwell: “Around 90” new spaces; $20 million from Urban Congestion Fund; added on top of existing car park; said to benefit train and tram commuters and Camberwell Junction shoppers and diners.
  • Glenferrie: “Around 490” spaces, keeping existing 138 parking spaces; $15 million from Urban Congestion Fund; said to benefit parking for work or study, shopping and dining.
  • Canterbury: “Around 200” spaces, keeping 85 existing spots; $15 million from Urban Congestion Fund; said to improve accessibility and parking for park and ride commuters, shoppers and diners.

No plans have been made publicly available for a site in Surrey Hills. The state government plans to merge that station with a nearby one. But discussions are ongoing about where to build a $15 million federally funded car parks project.

The council is proposing to build a new car parking facility with “around 490” car parking spaces near Glenferrie station.. (Boroondara Council)

Mr Frydenberg claimed the state Labor government had “ignored the needs of Melbourne’s east, including electorates such as Kooyong.”

“I consulted my local council who made it very clear that there was a significant lack of parking at railway stations in the area, with an opportunity to expand the parking available,” he said in a statement to 9News.

“This is why I advocated for more car parks in Kooyong, which will get cars off the road and local commuters to and from home sooner and safer.”

Labor’s Ms King called on the Treasurer to apologise to the voters in his electorate who took his promises at face value.

“The more you look at it, the more ludicrous the car park rorts scandal gets,” she said.



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