Mr Melhem: I rise to speak on the Stony Creek revitalisation petition, which I tabled yesterday. In tabling this petition I would like to commend the Andrews Labor government for its ongoing commitment to this project, as the lion’s share of funding for Stony Creek has come from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Melbourne Water, Development Victoria and City West Water, with $6.7 million allocated to the project by the Victorian government through these project partners. I note Brimbank City Council’s modest financial contribution to the project as well as their work as a project delivery partner. I want to commend them on their level of enthusiasm and support for the project and their advocacy for the project. I also recognise that the federal government has chipped in some $4.8 million toward that project.

This project was commissioned in May 2016 and seeks to transform Stony Creek back into a natural waterway. This will provide the community with much-needed open space and increased connectivity. The project aims to transform a 1.2-kilometre stretch above Stony Creek between Furlong Road and Gilmore Road in Sunshine North from a concrete drainage channel to a natural revegetated creek. The project also involves a new stormwater harvesting wetland and irrigation system surrounded by community parklands and 3 kilometres of walking and riding trails. The final design includes a stormwater wetland for treatment and re-use aimed at providing clean stormwater for irrigation and trees while contributing to the enhanced waterway health of local creeks and ultimately Port Phillip Bay. So it is a very important project for the west.

As we know, the west was built on heavy industry over the years, and I think it is time to start opening up these areas to open land and open parks so our constituents can actually enjoy the fresh air and new parks. Unfortunately the project hit a snag: a lot of asbestos was discovered along the way. As a result of that a pause was ordered by the project partners to basically make sure a new analysis was done on the impact of cleaning up the newfound asbestos. That has dramatically changed the whole cost of the project. Unlike a campaign in the area that was about the project basically being cancelled, it was not cancelled but paused. An investigation was done, more money was found, and we have tried to keep the project going. I was pleased when the local member for St Albans, Ms Natalie Suleyman, along with a member for Western Metro, Ms Stitt, announced the recommencement of that project. That was greatly received after the state government was able to find some additional funds to continue that project.

Mayor Lucinda Congreve from the city council welcomed the announcement, and I quote: Council welcomes this announcement reaffirming the Victorian Government’s commitment to the Upper Stony Creek Transformation Project. So it is very welcome news, and the local members of the Andrews Labor government in the west are continuing to advocate within government to make sure that we have enough funding to complete this project and also speaking to other partners like the federal government to make sure enough money is added to the pool so we can complete the full project. I was advised recently that a further announcement is to be made in that space to make sure that we continue the staging program so we do not have to bring the work to a standstill because of that extra cost. I think a further announcement in relation to that project will be made in the next few days, to reaffirm the Andrews Labor government’s commitment to delivering that project and to make sure that we deliver a first-class project. It is about doing it right, making sure that we achieve the optimum design—that is, what we designed this project to achieve instead of doing a half-baked job. That is why there have been some of the delays. I am pleased that the project has now been resumed. Hopefully work will continue until we complete it and we can deliver a state-of-the-art piece for our citizens in the western suburbs so they can enjoy walking, biking and some fresh air. I commend the work of the Andrews Labor government in relation to this project.