Victorian opposition makes $160m bus overhaul election promise as Labor flags more dog parks

Matthew Guy seeks to woo outer-metropolitan voters while Daniel Andrews campaigns in inner suburbs on day three of the Victoria election

Victoria’s opposition leader, Matthew Guy, has pledged $160m to improve the bus network in outer suburbs if the Coalition wins government, while Daniel Andrews has sought to woo inner-city voters with the prospect of more dog parks.

Arriving by bus in Sunbury, in Melbourne’s north, on Friday, Guy said a Coalition government would establish or expand 45 services and review another 20 existing routes in the city’s outer suburbs and in regional Victorian towns if elected on 26 November.

“Rewarding hard-working families is part of my agenda and making sure there is a greater number of public transport options is a key part of that,” he told reporters.

“It’s so important we get bus services right. It’s so important that they compliment our large rail and tram network.”

The funds would be allocated over four years, with the new routes to be determined after consultation with the bus association.

Daniel Bowen, from the Public Transport Users Association, backed the Coalition’s plan, saying Melbourne’s outer suburbs were serviced by infrequent and indirect bus services.

“It’s a great start to getting good quality public transport into those areas,” he told Guardian Australia.

“They’ll need to look at where they can prioritise those routes and hopefully it’s just the start of further investment in the bus system because there’s just so many areas of Melbourne that need those upgrades.”

Bowen said the frequency of bus services was also key.

“The last thing we’d want is new bus networks that run half an hour and really don’t provide a good alternative to getting in your car,” he said.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy promised to expand the state’s bus network. Photograph: Diego Fedele/AAP

The Coalition plan includes increasing services on a series of routes in Melbourne and regional centres; the introduction of new routes in Sunbury and Wollert; and new express services between Glen Waverley and Box Hill, and between Hastings and Mornington.

Guy made the announcement in the seat of Sunbury, which is held by Labor on a comfortable margin of 14.5%. Labor fears it could suffer significant swings in the area, due to frustration that infrastructure has not kept up with population growth.

An Andrews government spokesperson said the opposition could not be be trusted on public transport.

“They’ve promised to cut our big build, sacking thousands of workers and hurting our economy,” the spokesperson said.

“They’ll cut the Suburban Rail Loop and cut level crossing removals, forcing people onto more congested roads.”

The commitment comes after Guy earlier announced he would cap metropolitan public transport at $2 a day and halve V/Line fares. Earlier this week, Andrews pledged to bring V/Line fares in line with metropolitan Myki fees if Labor retains government.

On Friday Andrews visited Pawfield Park in Caulfield East to pledge $13.4m to build six new dog parks and upgrade 22 existing ones if re-elected, citing an 8% increase in pet ownership during the pandemic.

“We know particularly in built up areas access to public spaces that’s appropriate for dogs, that’s appropriate for families is critically important,” he said.

The new parks will be located in Armstrong Creek, Endeavour Hills, Mount Waverley, Sydenham, Wantirna and Wollert.

Andrews also pledged to release new animal welfare laws in 2023, as well as $2m to support low-cost vet clinics and $5m to the animal welfare fund in honour of Oscar, the tiny poodle behind the state’s laws banning puppy farms, who recently died. The funds will support pet shelters and animal rescue and rehoming organisations.

During the press conference, Andrews was heckled by a man, who called him a “disgrace”. Another accused the premier of “ruining the state”.

Caulfield, held by Liberal MP David Southwick, is one of the state’s most marginal seats. An electoral redistribution sees it become a Labor seat on a 0.2% margin.

The premier also stopped at the Port Melbourne Bowling Club to meet with the party’s Albert Park candidate, upper house MP Nina Taylor, and pledge $1m for the club.

Andrews and Taylor were joined for a beer by former health minister Martin Foley, who held the seat of Albert Park for 15 years before announcing his retirement earlier this year.

The seat is under threat by the Greens, who nearly won the overlapping electorate of Macnamara at the May federal election.


Benita Kolovos and Adeshola Ore

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Victorian Greens to preference Labor above Liberals as major parties make health pledges
Samantha Ratnam rules out deal with the Liberals, will direct preferences to ‘progressive’ candidates

Benita Kolovos and Adeshola Ore

09, Nov, 2022 @6:02 AM

Article image
Why has the Victoria state election campaign turned so ugly?
In a political landscape polarised by the pandemic, the campaign has been dogged by scandal, allegations of vote-rigging and even violence

Adeshola Ore and Benita Kolovos

23, Nov, 2022 @1:45 AM

Article image
Daniel Andrews joins kindergarteners on eve of Victorian election, but Matthew Guy is all business
Premier spends last full day of the campaign in Northcote, where the Greens are making headway

Adeshola Ore

25, Nov, 2022 @6:50 AM

Article image
Victorian opposition promises $500 dental vouchers as Labor pledges new medical scanners
Matthew Guy and Daniel Andrews focus on health announcements on second day on the campaign trail

Benita Kolovos and Adeshola Ore

03, Nov, 2022 @7:36 AM

Article image
Victorian opposition objects to repatriation of ‘so-called Isis brides’, as election campaign begins
Matthew Guy says allowing families of fighters to resettle from Syria could compromise the safety of Victorians

Adeshola Ore and Benita Kolovos

02, Nov, 2022 @3:28 AM

Article image
Victorian Liberal party left shellshocked after another heavy election defeat
Opposition leader Matthew Guy concedes the Coalition has ‘a lot of work to do’ after losing six of past seven elections

Adeshola Ore

26, Nov, 2022 @1:09 PM

Article image
Victorian Labor loses ‘Matthew Guy’ Facebook page after using it for $115,000 worth of attack ads
The party has spent three times more than the Liberals on political advertising on the platform

Josh Butler and Benita Kolovos

19, Nov, 2022 @7:00 PM

Article image
Victorian election 2022: what you need to know ahead of voting on 26 November
Can Daniel Andrews win a third term as premier? Will teal independents repeat their federal success? And how, when and where can people in Victoria vote?

Benita Kolovos

25, Nov, 2022 @4:09 AM

Article image
‘No health workers want to stand with us’: the challenge for Victoria’s Coalition
The two major parties are sparring over health policies, but some Liberal sources are questioning the strategy

Benita Kolovos

01, Oct, 2022 @7:00 PM

Article image
Victorian election: with Melbourne Cup over, now comes real race for Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy
Polls and pundits have Labor winning in a canter, but strategists from both sides expect the margin to narrow as 26 November approaches

Benita Kolovos

01, Nov, 2022 @2:00 PM