Nicholson-Miller streets, Brunswick East: safety

I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Roads, and I am pleased to see him in the house this evening. The action I seek is the minister’s urgent approval for a representative of VicRoads and other public servants to attend an onsite meeting at the intersection of Nicholson and Miller streets in Brunswick East to discuss traffic and safety issues that have been raised by Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School.

The intersection is also a tram stop and a bus route, with buses turning into Nicholson Street from Miller Street with no signals. There is considerable bicycle traffic both ways. There are no traffic lights at this intersection, but there is a pedestrian crossing and a set of pedestrian lights further down the road on Nicholson Street which can cause bank-ups and confusion.

As members can picture, this intersection creates a very chaotic environment at school drop-off and pick-up times, one I have witnessed on numerous occasions.

A number of incidents have occurred that have caused great concern to the school and the parent community, and the situation is set to worsen with the imminent completion of a large number of new residential units in Miller Street. There are a number of authorities involved in the management of this intersection, including VicRoads and public transport authorities. The intersection is also on the municipal boundary of the Yarra and Moreland city councils.

Given the seriousness of the situation and the number of parties involved, it was suggested that an onsite meeting be convened so all representatives could hear the views and concerns of the school and witness the difficulties firsthand. My office contacted the regional office of VicRoads earlier this year and asked it to be involved in such a meeting.

After some delay in responding, my office was advised that the issue was being examined and a brief would be submitted to the regional director.

After considerable time had elapsed we again contacted VicRoads. Unfortunately we were then told that we had to seek the minister’s approval for a VicRoads representative to attend a meeting. As a result last month I emailed the minister with an outline of the purpose of the meeting, those who we were seeking to be involved and a request for his approval. Again we received no response. In considerable frustration, we then telephoned the minister’s office last week and were told that the request for a meeting had been denied and that we had to put any suggestions for changes to the intersection in writing to the minister instead.

Everything about this issue is disturbing, from the fact that my requests for a meeting were ignored for months to having what is, by any measure, a highly reasonable request made on behalf of a primary school with deep concerns about the safety of its students denied by the minister and/or his office. Members of the school community are understandably considerably upset.

While I am happy to write another letter to the minister, it is simply a fact that letters will not come close to providing a proper, common-sense approach to a situation of this type where all the parties can meet, witness the situation and ask and answer questions of each other.

Therefore I ask that the minister urgently reconsider his position on this matter and approve the participation of his officers in an onsite meeting at this dangerous intersection so that the significant anxiety of the school community can start to be addressed properly and in a manner in which any Victorian school, regardless of its postcode, deserves.

Hansard, 2011