Opposition leader Anthony Albanese, third from left, visited Mitchell Shire on Saturday to announce $150 million for a Hume Freeway interchange at Camerons Lane, Beveridge. Mr Albanese is pictured with, from left, Mitchell Shire councillor Rhonda Sanderson, the Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Shadow Minister Catherine King, Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell, Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm and City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson.

By Colin MacGillivray

FEDERAL Opposition leader Anthony Albanese pledged $150 million for a Camerons Lane interchange on the Hume Freeway at Beveridge if Labor wins the upcoming election, when visiting Mitchell Shire on Saturday.

With Beveridge’s population set to explode in the next two decades, Mr Albanese said the project would provide freeway access to up to 30,000 homes, creating jobs and reducing road congestion.

“This project alone will create 2000 direct and indirect jobs just during construction, but more importantly it has the potential to unlock 30,000 homes and 20,000 jobs,” he said.

“What we need to do is make sure that, as a nation, we build infrastructure in advance [of] or at the same time at least as when the growth is occurring.

“Too often we haven’t learnt the lessons. We’ve had growth in our outer suburbs not matched by infrastructure investment.”

Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm described the announcement as a ‘game changer’ for the shire’s south and said the interchange had been council’s top advocacy project.

“Currently we’re at 50,000 people [living in Mitchell Shire] and we’re going to grow to 170,000 in the next 20 years,” he said.

“Very few people realise this, including most Mitchell residents, but Beveridge is going to be the biggest town in Mitchell Shire within 20 years. It will be bigger than Wallan.

“You need infrastructure in a timely manner. We have been very reactive for years, and this is a game changer to get it in a timely manner.

“It’s not going in before everything is happening – it’s happening now. If you go for a drive down there you’ll see what’s happening with the housing going up.”

Shadow Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Catherine King was also in Beveridge for the announcement, and described the project as ‘nation building at its best’.

“It is … building infrastructure in advance of development so we’re not trying to retrofit it afterwards so people are stuck in congestion and are not able to get onto the highway at all,” she said.

Mr Albanese, left, pictured with Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell at Beveridge.

Ms King joined Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell in March last year to slam the Federal Government for a lack of action on another Hume Freeway interchange project at Watson Street in Wallan East.

The government announced $50 million to build south-facing on and off ramps in August 2020, but work on the project is yet to start despite the State Government reportedly completing detailed planning.

When asked what assurance she could provide voters that a Labor government would undertake the Beveridge project in a timely manner, Ms King said money had already been allocated in the party’s budget, including $10 million for detailed planning.

She said a collaborative approach with the State Government would be key.

“I am absolutely committed to working constructively – as opposed to what this Morrison government does in its war against the Victorian State Government – to deliver this project,” she said.

Mr Mitchell said Labor had a superior track record than the Coalition when it came to delivering on projects.

“The one consistency we’ve seen from this government is: all announcement, no delivery,” he said.

Mitchell Shire Council advocacy and community services director Mary Agostino said the Camerons Lane interchange would be key in enabling a proposed future freight terminal in Beveridge.

Beveridge is one of two potential sites for a freight terminal as part of the federal Inland Rail project, with another in Melbourne’s west.

Ms King said she was still in talks with the State Government about the final location of the freight hub.

“There are ongoing discussions with the Victorian State Government about where the government is going to locate the freight terminal. In the next four months up to the election we’ll be continuing those discussions with the Victorian Government,” she said.

“Camerons Lane interchange is a project in and of itself, and it’s a really important project in terms of housing and development.”

Ms King also committed to getting the Watson Street interchange at Wallan East underway quickly if Labor was elected.

“It sounds like the detailed planning work [for the Watson Street interchange] has already been done. That generally means once the money is flowing it can happen pretty quickly,” she said.


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