March news: Skyrail, truckzillas, climate win & more

15 Mar 2024

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Community, News, Parliament

Here are my latest updates from Parliament and around the Brunswick electorate (Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, Fitzroy North, Princes Hill & Carlton North).

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In this newsletter:

  • What’s happening with Skyrail?
  • Small climate win in Parliament
  • Truckzillas in the inner north
  • Sh*t Rentals
  • A simple action you can take to help save public housing

What’s happening with Skyrail?

It’s looking increasingly likely that the state Labor government has given up on delivering Skyrail to Brunswick by 2027 (the deadline they announced just before the 2022 election).

When Labor said they would remove eight level crossings along the Upfield line, I cautiously welcomed the news in this blog piece. Despite the inevitable noise and disruption of the construction phase, by the end we’d have a strip of open space with separated pedestrian and bike paths, playgrounds, basketball hoops, dog parks and newly planted trees, in an area that sorely needs open space and greenery.

My main concern with the project was that the government needed to prioritise genuine community consultation to get the best outcomes. Unfortunately, this isn’t what we saw with the previous level crossing removal project in Coburg. 

We need certainty on the government’s plans because the discussion around other local issues (like installing protected bike lanes on Sydney Road, improving the Upfield shared path, and increasing green space along the train line) seems to be stalled until the Skyrail plans are figured out.

And if you’re a person looking to move to Brunswick, or you run a business near the train line, or you’re asking Council to improve the area – it’s hard to make plans while the state government is so tight-lipped about a major infrastructure project that will impact our neighbourhood so much.

I’ve asked the government for details a few times, but they haven’t exactly been forthcoming – and last week, this article in the Age citing budget concerns added fuel to my suspicions that this just might not happen, at least not anytime soon. 

I have to wonder if this continued deferral is just cancellation by stealth. If the state government can’t afford this project now, who’s to say they’ll be able to afford it in the future? And more to the point, is this car-centric project the best use of at least $1.5 billion? We need better bike infrastructure and increased green space in Brunswick, but a good government would be consulting with the community to figure out the best way to get there – not just making promises they’re too scared to admit they can’t keep.

I’ll keep working to get more information and I’ll let you know what I find out.

Fighting for our oceans

It’s not every day I get to meet a whale on the steps of parliament, so it was a treat to get a selfie with Klarite the Southern Right whale last week. Klarite travelled to Melbourne with Fight for the Bight Port Fairy to join us in calling on the state Labor government to ban all new offshore oil and gas drilling off Victoria’s coast. 

It was a powerful morning of song, protest, and solidarity alongside Gunditjmara custodians Yaaran Couzens Bundle & Paul Kelly (Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective), OCEANFriends of the Earth MelbourneFight for the Bight Port FairyExtinction Rebellion, and supporters who joined us from the ongoing Sit-Intifada on the parliament steps. 

Later that day, the Greens introduced our bill to parliament to follow NSW’s lead and ban offshore oil and gas in Victorian waters. This would help protect Klarite and her mates from the impacts of worsening climate change, as well as the deafening seismic blasting that would be used to find new oil and gas reserves off Victoria’s coast. If NSW can do it, so can we. 

Next week I’m looking forward to joining these groups in Torquay at Surfrider Foundation’s Day of Action Paddle Out. Join me if you’ll be in the area! We’ll meet at Cosy Corner in Torquay, 12pm-2pm, followed by Climate Politics in the Pub at Frontbeach Taphouse and Restaurant from 2:30-4:30pm with me, Victorian Greens MP Sarah Mansfield, and Federal Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson. Then, head along to OCEAN’s Paddle Out Party at Bells Beach Brewing from 5pm-10pm.Everyone is welcome – hope to sea you there!

Small climate win

Last week, the Greens had a significant success in the state parliament.

We worked with Labor to amend their bill to update renewable energy targets.

Until now, coal and gas companies could use dodgy carbon offsets or unproven carbon capture and storage to meet Victoria’s “net zero” emissions targets.

So they could keep burning fossil fuels, damaging our climate, and get away with it on a technicality.

But we negotiated to close this loophole – so that the government will now have to seek independent expert advice to ensure the effectiveness of any offsets or carbon capture in their ‘net zero’ calculations.

It’s a small but important win, and it was a great way to end the sitting week. We’re also working on improvements to a bill which inserts the re-established SEC in the state constitution, so watch this space.


Every sitting day last week, my Greens colleagues and I tried to move a motion in the chamber to oppose Israel’s invasion of Gaza. And every day, we were denied leave to speak. 

I read a harrowing report this week of Israeli troops beating and humiliating Palestinian healthworkers after raiding a hospital. A doctor was beaten and had his hand broken.

So I’ll keep calling on the Victorian Labor government to cut ties with weapons manufacturers and the Israeli defence ministry, and to support Palestinian refugees here in Victoria.

The Greens and I will keep talking about Palestine, even if Labor won’t.


Congratulations to Yarra City Council for unanimously agreeing to look into charging higher parking fees for ‘Truckzillas’ (large vehicles like Ford Raptors and Dodge RAMs).

These vehicles are needlessly proliferating in the inner city. We have no problem with trucks carrying large loads for work, but we shouldn’t simply accept that cars are getting bigger without considering their impact on more vulnerable road users. These oversized utes and SUVS are much more dangerous to children, worse for traffic jams and carbon emissions, and create more road damage than smaller cars (or, of course, public transport and bikes!).

Greens Cr Sophie Wade was inspired when she heard that Paris is increasing parking fees for heavy SUVs, and decided to bring a bit of Parisian flair to her own neck of the woods by introducing this motion to the council. I supported this in parliament and you can read more in the Age.

I’ll be watching this one closely and doing what I can to support this sensible move.

Sh*t rentals: Brunswick edition

Did you catch me on Sh*t Rentals last week?

I joined Purple Pingers at 62 Stewart St, Brunswick to see the shocking state of this rental property. The tenants were evicted with only a week’s notice, after years of raising concerns about the deteriorating condition of the house. It looked like it was going to fall down with us inside. It’s an all-too-common illustration of the housing crisis in Victoria. But I’m working hard to try to fix it. If you’d like to join me, sign up to our renters’ campaign here for updates and ways to get involved.

Help us save public housing

I’m supporting a resident-led petition demanding that Labor stop the privatisation of public housing in Victoria. 

If we collect 2000 paper signatures, we can force a special debate in Parliament about Labor’s plan to demolish all 44 public housing towers. This puts pressure on the government to stop the demolition and build more public housing.

And you can help! Just download and print this paper petition, collect as many signatures as you can, and return the pages to my office at 1/31 Nicholson St, Brunswick East by Tuesday 19 March.

If you don’t have a printer, let me know and we can print some sheets for you here at the office. (And if you need translated versions of the petition’s preamble, you can find them here.)

This is an important, practical action we can take to pressure the Labor government to build more public housing in Victoria, not less.

Keen to help out even more? Head along to the Banner Painting Party at Samantha Ratnam’s office in Carlton, Monday March 19th from 5:30-7:30pm. There will be pizza. Details and RSVP here.

Critical Mass

Another month, another Critical Mass bike ride!

In February, we rode from the CBD to Footscray to call for better bike infrastructure. The ride was slow, inclusive, safe, and a whole lot of fun. And then I joined the Brunswick contingent back home so nobody was left stranded.Don’t worry if you missed out – you’ll get another chance next Friday, 22 March. Meet at the State Library at 5:30pm for a slow ride south to Queens Park, near Caulfield Station. Details and RSVP here.

Sydney Road Street Party

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Greens stall at the Sydney Road Street Party. I had a great time chatting to people (even though I know they were all just there to pat Monty, the pill testing pup). 

Well done to Merri-bek City Council for putting on another fantastic street party to kick off this year’s Brunswick Music Festival – already looking forward to next year!

Thanks for getting this far! Remember, if there’s anything you want to raise with me, you can always get in touch with my office on [email protected] or (03) 9384 1241.

Until next time,


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