Speech in Parliament - Lidia Thorpe: My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Public Transport. The action I seek is that the minister meet with Melbourne Farmers Markets and support their establishment of an important new community food hub, including providing appropriate compensation for the impact of the Grange Road level crossing removal on this important local and sustainable enterprise.
Alphington Farmers Market is located 500 metres from the Grange Road level crossing removal site. With no warning, in March this year Melbourne Farmers Markets discovered the intention of the Level Crossing Removal Authority to immediately occupy the Alphington railway station car park located opposite their business as one of their construction depots.
While other businesses in the area were consulted and supported by the Level Crossing Removal Authority, Melbourne Farmers Markets was completely left out. They were not even informed of the likely work impacts ahead of the works commencing just metres from their site. The impacts on them were significant. The noise and machinery road use was extremely disruptive to the running of the business. Huge trucks and staff vehicles were parked on nature strips, across driveways and on street kerbs for weeks.
Because of the construction depot, Melbourne Farmers Markets had no choice but to delay the start of their weekly market by six weeks, causing a loss of approximately $25 000 in income, reversing months of planning and leaving staff and stallholders without work.
Despite this, Melbourne Farmers Markets generously offered their car park and toilets for the contractors to use day and night to ease congestion on the street and to provide facilities where the site did not.
Eventually the authority did respond to their requests to discuss this and they were encouraged to propose a compensatory solution. They came up with a mutually beneficial partnership with a creative social enterprise, TRY Australia, on site, which included funding for a portable container kitchen and accessible toilet. This and every effort since has been refused by the authority, despite the clear and shared benefits for the local community. A letter they sent to the minister has also gone unanswered so far.