Continuing in the spirit of Cate Speaks

Transport Matters Party


Social Media: FacebookTwitter
Previous Names: none
Slogans: Community Driven, Fairness Focused
Themes: Public Transport
Electorates: Upper House: Eastern Victorian, North Eastern Metropolitan, Northern Metropolitan, Northern Victorian, South Eastern Metropolitan, Southern Metropolitan, Western Metropolitan, Western Victorian
Lower House: Point Cook, Werribee
Preferences: The Group Voting Tickets of Transport Matters are wildly inconsistent from region to region, with the sole exception that the Freedom Party is always dead last, with One Nation, Family First and UAP battling it out for the next three spaces in most regions. The rest of the bottom half is usually filled out by Companions and Pets, the Coalition, ALP and the Greens, from highest to lowest – although in the Northern Metro region, 3rd place ALP candidate Susie Byers gets their fourth preference. The rest of the parties and candidates in each region seem to have mostly been sorted by some combination of brownian motion and complete indifference – although it’s notable that in Western and Eastern regions respectively, independents John O’Brian and Storm Hellmuth only just scrape in above Freedom, and Companions and Pets are third last in Northern Metro.
I’m sure there is a signal somewhere in this noise, but damn is there a lot of noise.
Previous Reviews: 2018 VIC

Policies & Commentary

It’s fair to say that Cate wasn’t overly enamoured of this party when she reviewed them four years ago. They appeared, at that time, to be a special interest group lobbying for the rights of one industry above all else, the taxi industry which was very much in retreat under the onslaught of rideshare businesses at the time. Victorian voters, however, did not share Cate’s ambivalence (and/or Glen Druery’s preference magic worked out), and Rod Barton was elected to the Upper House, in what was then the Eastern Metropolitan Region (a redistribution means that this particular region no longer exists, and he is now standing for re-election in the North Eastern Metropolitan Region). Barton’s parliamentary record largely reflects the policies he ran on – he is active on committees and inquiries relating to transport issues. Despite him placing the ALP last in his preferences, records show that he voted with them 63.3% of the time – although according to Wikipedia: In September 2020 and in March 2021 Barton voted against The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (State of Emergency Extension and Other Matters) Bill 2020, rejecting “the time frame for the extensions to the state of emergency” and “the way the bill was drafted to deliver unfettered powers to the government without adequate checks and balances.” (a transcript of his remarks in the House can be found here).

The party is running more candidates in more electorates this time around, but it’s anyone’s guess how well they’ll do, or even if Barton will be re-elected. Getting elected fifth in a Victorian upper house seat is a victory, but hardly a ringing endorsement. That said, Barton has a record to run on now, and it’s one that looks good to his constituency. In addition, looking at their policies this time around, the offerings are both broader and less aggressive than they were four years ago.

Notably, and perhaps unsurprisingly given the most notable events in Victoria since the last election, Transport Matters now has a decent suite of health-related policies. They’d like to see 5% of total government health expenditure go towards preventative health care, as a way of reducing the strain on our health services. This isn’t a big or flashy policy, but it is the kind of sensible long term thinking that will deliver results down the line, and I like it a great deal, especially given how often our politicians fail to think long term. They’d also like to see more funding for the training and retention of staff (and the latter is very much aimed at dealing with the burnout of health sector employees we’ve seen over the last few years), and more funding for community controlled agencies to oversee and deliver health care for Indigenous Victorians. They are also big supporters of the Local Public Health Unit program, and want it to continue. Transport Matters is also concerned with the mental health of seniors, and wants to see a lot more attention paid to this area. In particular, they want to combat ageism, make public transport free for seniors and increase funding for neighbourhood houses.

Social Justice
I’m folding a few policy areas into this heading, specifically Homelessness, Gender Equality, Workers Rights, Community Consultation and Integrity. Gender Equality is the smallest of these, consisting of support for increasing parental leave, the installation of baby change facilities in men’s toilets as well as women’s where no dedicated facility exists and the changing of the name of Maternal Child Health Care Services to Parental Child Health Care Services. It’s interesting that while the website frames these changes in very heterosexual terms (equalising the workload between mothers and fathers, the importance of fathers to children), they would also be beneficial for gay couples with children. On Homelessness, they want to see better integration of services, as well as extensions to them. They have a particular focus on rural and indigenous homelessness, but they’re interested in better outcomes across the board in this field – they want to see better support for the kinds of problems that often lead to homelessness, such as alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, domestic violence and job loss. On the latter, they also want to see financial support for low income households, and discounted public transport for homeless people.

Worker’s Rights is primarily concerned with the gig economy, where they want greater protections and entitlments for workers in this sector. They also want to see a minimum wage across all sectors, at an hourly rate of $20.33. Community Consultation is mostly about reining in developers by increasing their requirement to consult with local communities, and to be generally more transparent. It neatly segues into Integrity, which requires greater transparency from parliament and government, and also wants penalties for failure to comply, especially when it comes to government departments behaving as model litigants.

Environment and Transport
I’ve grouped these two together because there is considerable overlap between them. This section covers the policy headings of Environment, Heavy Rail, Road Safety, Cycling, Trackless Trams, Suburban Rail Loop and Free Tram Zone. Environmental policies that are not transport-related are support for wind and solar energy, increased provision of parks and wetlands in suburban areas and improvements to waste management and recycling processes and facilities.

Environmental policies that do overlap with with transport include reducing road congestion, support for electric vehicles (especially busses and taxis, but also private cars), and improved infrastructure for heavy rail, road and bicycling. On the latter, they are quick to point out that Barton has supported bicycle infrastructure in actual votes in the house. They are enthusiastic supporters of the Suburban Rail Loop and Airport Railway projects – in fact, they think that the former should go a little further, and include Doncaster in stage one, on the not unreasonable basis that the lack of rail to Doncaster is one of the things that this project is specifically intended to address. (Doncaster will currently be a part of stage two, but it is only one station past the Box Hill terminus of stage one.)

Cate would no doubt be delighted at the fact that Transport Matters have now discovered the existence of Trams, and have two policies relating to the, one of which is the introduction of what they call a Trackless Tram, which would connect Caulfield railway station with Rowville via Chadstone Shopping Centre and Monash University. I’m not entirely clear on what the difference between a trackless tram and a bus is, but apparently there is one. They would also like to see the Free Tram Zone extended to cover the Royal Children’s Hospital, the University of Melbourne, RMIT, the MCG, Olympic Park, the Alfred Hospital, the Shrine of Remembrance, the NGV and Jeff’s Shed. An extension of the zone has been approved, but so far it would only cover Southbank, intended to service the NGV and the casino (and Jeff’s Shed more or less coincidentally).

We now have only one policy area remaining, and it’s the reason we’re here in the first place:

Or, as the party describes it the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry. This also includes their policies on Tolls, which are entirely taxi related. Their policies here are evolved descendants of those they had four years ago, largely because there have been legal changes in this space in the intervening times, some of which they like, most of which they don’t. Their issues under Tolls are reasonable enough – they want taxis to be treated as regular cars, the same as rideshare vehicles are, and that seems only fair. They also want to see a greater emphasis on safety for passengers using commercial vehicles – mandatory gps tracking of vehicles and a mandatory 10% of fleets to be wheelchair accessible. They also want compensation for those who lost their licenses due to the legal changes mentioned above, and the outlawing of surge pricing.

Now, it’s worth noting at this point that many of the policies listed above will also impact the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry – the transition of vehicles to electric power, and in particular, moves to regulate the gig economy will have a big impact on rideshare providers. The war goes on, but it is pursued with greater subtlety – which is not to say that Transport Matters is not sincere in the policies it advocates, just that some of those positions serve two ends. Transport Matters has matured as a party, from a narrow industry focus to a broader party of the centre left with some excellent ideas, and they’ll be near to the top of my ballot.

Just a reminder that Maz and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂


  1. Benjamin Cronshaw

    They did seem funny back in the day, but they seem to have served well and matured with their responsibility. Glad that they have a good emphasis on cycling and public transport too. Lots of decent thinking there.

    • Loki

      Their tram policies are really oddly specific, I must say. I’m surprised they’re not looking for extensions to that network too.

  2. David Stosser

    Re trackless trams, refer the half-page in this document under section 3.3:

    Basically, it’s a marketing tool for bus rapid transit in areas were buses provide such a pathetic service that the term ‘bus’ is seen as a bad thing.

    In the specific instance of the Rowville route, extending a normal light rail (distinct from streetcar/tram tier) down the median of Dandenong Road from Malvern interchange would make more sense than creating a separate route. In almost every other case, bus rapid transit (at least silver standsrd on the ITDP BRT Standard) makes more sense than TTS because the service can extend beyond the limits of the dedicated infrastructure, which means passengers aren’t forced to change vehicles mid trip.

    • Loki

      Illuminating, and I think you’re dead one with your marketing analysis.

      I get the choice of Caulfield as a junction point, but it wouldn’t be hard to include an extra stop connecting with Malvern either. And yeah, the Dandenong and North Rd medians seem tailor-made for light rail.

      • David Stosser

        Dandenong Road works well as a light rail by extending Route 64 from Malvern to Rowville, with route 16 covering Glenferrie and Hawthorn roads, and route 3 permanently diverted via Luna Park (as it already does on weekends).

        North-Wellington Road would work well as a bus rapid transit system, because it has the median width and no existing tram line to attach to, but multiple bus routes entering and exiting the corridor along its length; BRT infrastructure can be used by all bus routes through the area, whereas trackless tram and light rail systems are more constrained.

        In Glen Eira, BRT along North Road would benefit routes 625, 626, 630, 701, 767 and 822; in Monash, routes 601, 630, 631, 681, 682, 691, 703, 733, 737, 754, 802, 804, 848, 850, 862 and 885, each route entering and exiting the North-Wellington corridor as required.

  3. LSN

    I find myself surprised to be liking some of their policies. Granted I’m a bit of a public transport nerd so expanding the network is always good in my eyes. The free tram zone expansion is great if you live or are staying in the CBD but useless if you live outside it – I’d prefer student fares for overseas students, and postgraduate students.

    Also their public transport policies seem to be lacking in accessibility considerations, but that may be due to needing to summarise.

    Change tables in men’s toilets though I am all in favour of. Normalise parenting.

    • Loki

      As a fellow PT nerd, I sympathise – I think their idea of including Doncaster in phase one of the SRL is one of those things that seems so obvious in retrospect.

      Honestly, I don’t think there’s that much of a need to summarise, and I agree that accessibility is a big issue across the entire network that they’re ignoring entirely.

      And absolutely yes with normalising parenting.

    • David Stosser

      The free tram zone expansion is actually a bit problematic, because it encourages people from everywhere else to drive up to the boundary then jump on a tram. This causes excessive crowding and delays at stops/platforms, which has negatively impacted timetables and service reliability over the last few years (covid notwithstanding).

      Similarly, the bidding wars between ALP, Libs and Greens over who can discount public transport more is concerning because it won’t significantly increase public transport mode share in outer suburbs where the primary reason people drive is the lack of frequent public transport. As an example, taking the opposition’s claims that their fare cut will cost $1.3bn over 4 years; we have to ask how else that cash could be spent. The 2022/23 state budget paper 3, page 335, says that we spend $847.5M on buses each year, to provide 129.3M KM of services. If we redirect the fare cut to service improvements instead, we could buy an extra 50,000,000 KM of bus services in a year. If we assume the average bus route has a 50km round trip, that’s an increase of 38.4% of services per day over the current schedules, totalling an extra 2,715 services per day across Melbourne. I think that would generate a much higher increase in mode share, than making public transport cheaper,m mostly for people who already use it.

      • LSN

        Totally agree that focusing on better, more frequent services in the outer and newer suburbs would give more value for money than an expanded free network. Came back to re-read their policies as they’ve managed to pip out the Greens in the NE Metro LC – hoping they are able to push for outer and regional services, and look at accessibility issues. (Elizabeth St tram terminus I’m looking at you. Hard. Not that that is by any means even close to the only inaccessible point, it’s just the one I thought was going to be improved last year and wasn’t.)

        • David Stosser

          Transit accessibility in Victoria is a bad joke. Legally, all stops, stations and buses must be compliant before 1 January 2023, and all trains and trams by 1 January 2033 (DSAPT 2022 Cth). As it stands, 3/4 of tram stops and 1/2 of railway stations are not compliant with various standards including DSAPT, and the only move they’ve made to rectify it is a currently-underway review of the legislation, basically writing a get-out-of-jail-free card.

  4. Tiggrr

    Gosh, I might actually have to vote for them. Excellent write up. And thanks again so much for continuing to do this.

    • Loki

      For all the stress and bother of it, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that we’re doing something worthwhile here.

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