The Victorian Coalition has promised mandatory minimum jail terms for child sex offenders and hundreds of new car parking spots at train stations during a tour of marginal sandbelt seats in Melbourne’s south-east.
- Coalition pledges 900 new car parks at stations between Frankston and Baxter
- Labor promises to remove the four remaining level crossings on the Cranbourne line
- Labor to abolish alcohol dry areas in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, while Coalition says this is not a priority
Meanwhile, Labor has revealed the locations of four more level crossing removals and promised to abolish laws which require residents of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs to vote to approve new liquor licences for bars, pubs and clubs.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy kept up a frantic pace as he visited the bayside seats of Frankston, Carrum and Bentleigh, each of which Labor holds by margins of less than 1 per cent.
Continuing to campaign on law and order, Mr Guy promised to add three child sex offences to the list of crimes that would attract a mandatory minimum jail term under a Coalition government.
The proposed changes would apply to violent repeat offenders found guilty of 17 serious crimes.
Recidivist offenders would face at least 15 years’ jail for sexual penetration of a child under 12, 10 years for a child under 16, and 10 years for a child aged 16 or 17 who is in their care or supervision.
“We need to make sure that those who commit the worst offences in our society, particularly around child sex offences, those repeat offenders should be subject to mandatory minimum jail time,” Mr Guy said.
Parties pitch to train travellers
Mr Guy also followed up his previous pledge to electrify and extend the Frankston train line to Baxter — and build new stations at Frankston East and Langwarrin — with a promise to add 900 free car parking spots along that section.
Under the Coalition plan, 450 new spots would be added at Frankston, 150 at Frankston East, 100 at Langwarrin and 200 at Baxter.
Mr Guy said the policy would cost $200 million and be delivered in the first term of a Coalition government.
“We have this existing rail corridor, here we have the existing station precincts, the land already owned by VicTrack, we can get on with this very quickly,” he said.
“At the moment the service south of Frankston is sub-standard.
“Actually having electric trains to Baxter with the park-and-ride facilities to use gives people choice that they don’t have [currently],” he said.
The Andrews Government is spending $3 million to develop a business case for the upgrade.
Labor has promised to remove the remaining level crossings on the Cranbourne line. (ABC News: Karen Percy)
Meanwhile, Premier Daniel Andrews visited Dandenong Station where he promised to remove the four remaining level crossings on the Cranbourne line.
The seat of Cranbourne is held by retiring Labor MP Jude Perera on a margin of 2.3 per cent, while Bass, which includes Pakenham, is held by Liberal MP Brian Paynter on a margin of 4.6 per cent.
The Government has already removed 11 level crossings on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines under Labor’s 2014 election commitment to remove 50 level crossings.
Mr Andrews today said as part of the Government’s $6.6-billion commitment to remove a further 25 level crossings by 2025, it would make Cranbourne the state’s first level crossing-free train line.
The level crossings at Evans Road in Lyndhurst and Camms Road in Cranbourne will be replaced with road bridges, while at Webster Street in Dandenong, the road will be brought under the rail line.
The crossing at Greens Road in Dandenong South is expected to be replaced with a rail bridge.
“There’s something like 40,000 traffic movements through those every day,” Mr Andrews said.
“There’s been a terrible tragedy at one of those level crossings only a few years ago.
“So many near-misses. Too many to count, almost. These things have got to go.”
Mr Andrews said no property acquisitions were expected.
Labor has previously committed $750 million to duplicate an 8-kilometre stretch of single track between Dandenong and Cranbourne, which it says would allow services to be run every 10 minutes.
“That’s great for Cranbourne and those different estates and communities between Cranbourne and Dandenong, Mr Andrews said.”
As part of the duplication project, Labor has set aside $7 million for planning work on extending the Cranbourne line to Clyde.
Labor promises to abolish ‘archaic’ dry zones
Earlier, Labor promised to abolish so-called dry areas in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, where residents are required to vote on whether a liquor licence should be granted to new bars, pubs and clubs.
The laws, which date back to the 1920s anti-alcohol movement, cover parts of the suburbs of Ashburton, Glen Iris, Camberwell, Canterbury, Box Hill, Balwyn, Mont Albert and Surrey Hills.
Since 2012, the Victorian Electoral Commission has carried out 20 polls, and in each of those, voters approved the new licence.
Residents who do not vote are fined $79.
The Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, said the “archaic” laws were a waste of taxpayer funds.
“There are already a number of licensed venues that exist within the remaining dry area,” she said.
“We are removing these laws, we are bringing these laws in line with the rest of the state.”
Ms Kairouz said the polls had cost taxpayers almost $500,000 since 2004.
“We know and we value that Victoria is a cosmopolitan and a contemporary state,” she said.
“The change will build on the importance of Victoria’s cafe and restaurant culture.”
She said residents could still have input into planning and permit approvals through their local councils.
Asked about Labor’s pledge, Mr Guy said there were more urgent priorities.
“Melbourne’s eastern suburbs will have a choice of priorities at the next election, whether they want more police under a Liberal Nationals government, or more nightclubs under a Labor government,” he said.
“From my point of view, the priority of the State Government should be more focused on providing more police to Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.”