–Millions spent on ads for Melbourne transport projects, reports show

September 21, 2017

More than $3 million was spent last financial year advertising the removal of level crossings in Melbourne, the Transport Department’s annual report shows.

It was one of dozens of annual reports released on Thursday, as the government flooded Parliament with information about the performance of its departments.

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The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources report revealed just under half a million dollars was also spent on “creative and campaign development” of the level crossing removal ads.

Labor came to office promising to slash spending on ads telling Victorians that action was being taken to improve the state’s transport system.

Taxpayers footed an advertising bill of $2.2 million for the proposed Metro Tunnel through central Melbourne, due for completion in 2026.

The spending – $829,000 of which was for “creative and campaign development” – was to “increase awareness and understanding of Metro Tunnel project works and benefits”, as well as to highlight disruptions for two months in South Yarra.

Ads for the project ran across TV, radio, print and online media, and on trains and at stations.

While spending on advertising of big government projects grew, money raised for Melbourne’s infrastructure-poor outer suburbs was slow to be spent.

The Victorian Planning Authority’s annual report showed that money continues to pour into the government from the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution, a tax on newly subdivided land that is meant to be spent on projects in the outer suburbs.

The tax applies to land newly subdivided in growth area councils Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

The fund had accumulated $288 million, with $105 million of it taken in the last financial year. But only $28 million has been spent – although the planning authority said $110 million had now been committed to 35 new infrastructure projects.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation revealed in its annual report that it cost Victorians $97 million to run this year’s event in Albert Park. The event brought in revenue of just $40 million. The remaining $57 million tab was picked up by taxpayers.

The motorcycle grand prix cost $19 million,  with only $10 million of this coming from the state government.

V/Line’s annual report showed that while the operator had 9.2 per cent more passengers, it had increased services by just 4.3 per cent. It posted a small loss, putting this down to more than $5 million in costs from rail collisions, a reduction in fare revenue because of myki, and maintenance costs.

The state’s rail asset manager VicTrack revealed its land sales program had reaped $18.5 million last financial year, via 11 land sales in Sunshine, Mentone, Prahran and Somerville. Also included was the sale of the air space above 87 Spring Street, Melbourne, at the entry to Parliament Station. The report said the sale would “deliver a revitalised Parliament Station entry”.

Also posting reports were the National Gallery of Victoria and Museums Victoria, which saw record numbers of visitors thanks to blockbuster exhibitions. But visitor numbers for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image slipped. The centre posted a loss of half a million dollars, down from a profit last financial year of $2.43 million. – #1 News in a FLASH

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