MTAG has had a bunch of signs printed that you can put on your fence or in your window to send a clear message to government – Enforce Truck Curfews Now!

MTAG will be at two locations this Saturday 4 May where you can pick up your free sign.

1. Outside Blackwood St Neighbourhood House – 114 Blackwood St, Yarraville 10:00 am -11:00am
2. Donald St Reserve, corner of Donald St and Moore St Footscray – 11:30am -12:30pm

Please come along and grab your free sign. We’ll be on hand to answer any questions that you have.

If you can’t make Saturday, email us and we’ll advise how to get a sign.

 

Why are we doing this?

Our hard won curfews are unfortunately being blatantly ignored, with hundreds of truck drivers using local streets at nights, weekends and during school crossing times.  Truck curfews are the only tangible measure implemented in the past 22 years that actually limits trucks on residential streets. They are designed to give relief to residents at night and weekends and to keep trucks away from our kids travelling to and from school.

In just two hours on a recent Sunday, MTAG captured video footage on Francis St Yarraville showing 95 container trucks blatantly ignoring the weekend truck curfew. We know the curfews on Somerville Rd and Moore St are being similarly ignored.

Channel Nine News covered the story which featured Minister Steve Dimopolous saying “we have hefty penalties for motorists who do the wrong thing”. But how many of these curfew breaking truck drivers have received a hefty penalty?  The answer is zero.

The StarWeekly also covered the curfew failure story.

If the government can’t enforce a few part time curfews now, how can we have any faith they will manage to enforce 24/7 bans on many more roads once the West Gate Tunnel opens?

We are calling on State Government to commit to the funding and roll out of electronic curfew monitoring for day one of the West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) opening in late 2025.

The State Government has consistently said the WGTP will get 9000 trucks per day off local roads. This will be done through the promised 24/7 truck bans on six roads – Blackshaws Rd, Hudsons Rd, Francis St, Sommerville Rd, Buckley St and Moore St.

This promise can only be achieved with electronic monitoring and enforcement. The current ad hoc curfew monitoring by the NHVR (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator) is an ineffective and broken system that relies on humans in patrol cars to be on the ground. This method of enforcement should be a relic of the past, not one that will be used on a modern $10.8B road project. The NHVR is clearly not up to the job of enforcement that they are mandated to deliver.

The government is currently running a traffic camera trial on two roads. The trial can not issue fines and has made no difference to the number of curfew breakers. The publicly available data from the trial shows hundreds of curfew breakers happening each day without any consequences. Legislative changes to the Roads Act are needed to allow camera issued fines but these changes are yet to happen.

Now is the time to demand that the State Government fully commits to proper effective electronic monitoring to ensure it’s ready for the tunnel opening. The government is finalising budgets right now in the lead up to the May budget which determines what will be funded in the following year.

With the West Gate Tunnel being tolled, there is a real risk that the project will make the truck problem on our streets even worse. Please sign our petition and don’t let the promised bans become a broken promise.

 

 

 


We are very proud to announce that MTAG President Martin Wurt has been named the City of Maribyrnong’s Citizen of the Year.

Martin has been campaigning to get trucks off Maribyrnong’s residential streets for almost 25 years.  He has been an active MTAG committee member since its formation in 2005, and prior to that was active with the Yarraville Residents Traffic Group.

Over the years, Martin has helped organise protest actions, community health forums and community information stalls.  He regularly speaks to media on the impacts of trucks on the community and has been called upon to present at numerous public forums with eminent guests such as Tim Flannery.  In 2010 he brought the impact of container movements on his community to an international audience after traveling to Los Angeles as a conference guest speaker.  He has represented the community to Parliamentary Inquiries, on Community Reference Groups and in meetings with Ministers, politicians, Councillors, industry reps, health experts and public servants.

While trucks on Maribyrnong’s residential streets continues to be a problem, Martin’s relentless campaigning efforts have resulted in many positive outcomes for his community. His idea to place 1,000 toy trucks on the steps of Parliament House to symbolise the number of trucks the inner west experiences every hour is just one of many creative ways he has brought attention to the issue. These actions ultimately led to school crossing time truck curfews on Somerville Road and Francis Street, and night and weekend curfews for Moore Street. His numerous photographs of trucks crashed into Napier Street Bridge likely contributed to major bridge works to stop dangerous crashes, and his campaigning efforts led to the Premier announcing 24/7 truck bans for several streets once the West Gate Tunnel is built. Martin has also placed KOALA air monitors in strategic locations across Maribyrnong, giving the community real time access to air quality data. His lobbying on B-Doubles using Somerville Road resulted in State Government investment into traffic cameras and new signage. His work with air quality and health professionals has built awareness of the health impacts, contributing to the establishment of significant projects such as Breathe Melbourne and the $15M old truck scrappage program as well as Maribyrnong Council’s Air Quality Improvement Plan and declaration of a Health Emergency.

Martin’s collaborative approach has also inspired other people around him to step up and act. His impact helped inspire the formation of Less Trucks for Moore, Save Willy Road and more recently the Footscray Truck Action Group. These and other advocacy groups are now working together and are able to draw on Martin’s experience and expertise, which he shares freely, to undertake their own campaigns to address the environmental injustices they face.

MTAG’s website, which Martin was instrumental in designing, is an incredible resource visited by over 200 people a day, and was profiled in several university studies as a demonstration of how digital communications can be harnessed to aid small NGOs. Martin’s connections with air quality academics has aided and informed new research into impacts of air pollution in this area. Finally Martin’s work has empowered the community to become knowledgeable and take action on this important issue that affects them every day.

There is much more work to be done and government action never happens as quickly as we’d like.  But thanks to Martin’s relentless advocacy, steadfast determination and a refusal to give up we are heading in the right direction and significant change will come.

Congratulations Martin, we cannot think of anyone more deserving.


The pedestrian crossing at the corner of Francis and Ballarat Streets saw two serious accidents involving trucks in 2023.

In July, Jason was seriously injured when a truck hit the overhead traffic light and it came crashing down on his head. He spent weeks in hospital and is still recovering from horrific injuries including a fractured skull and face.

The overhead traffic light then wasn’t replaced for months, drastically reducing visibility at the crossing.

Then in October, Brad was struck by a truck as he crossed Francis Street here on a green light. The truck was running the red light, with the driver claiming not to have seen the remaining red lights as they were obstructed by other trucks. Brad sustained a punctured lung, broken ribs and other internal injuries but luckily was able to recover at home.

MTAG visited the crossing and counted multiple trucks running the red light, creating this video. The lack of an overhead traffic light meant that truck drivers were not seeing the pedestrian crossing.

These incidents were featured in a major channel 9 news story and in the Herald Sun and Western Leader. The Leader created this powerful video of Brad and his first responder Andria talking about their recollections of the accident.

The traffic light was eventually replaced, and we were informed that it took so long  because work needs to take place in the vicinity of a gas pipeline, therefore requiring permits and approvals.

BUT…why was nothing done to make this crossing safe for the intervening four months? Where was the urgency? Why were no temporary signs installed warning drivers of the crossing? If drivers could not see the red lights, the crossing either needed to be made safe, or closed down. It was a complete miracle that no one was killed here.

MTAG is calling for a full safety audit at this crossing. Some suggestions to make it safer are:

* Early warning flashing lights alerting drivers to the signal changes ahead

* Barriers to protect waiting pedestrians

* Much higher visibility of the crossing

* A 40km/hr speed limit during school crossing times

* Perhaps implementation of a proper full intersection that takes in Ballarat and Hughes streets, or alternatively an overhead pedestrian crossing next to the rail overpass.

 

 


In August 2022 the Grattan Institute released an excellent report titled ‘The Grattan truck plan: practical policies for cleaner freight’.  The report warns that pollution from trucks kill more than 400 Australians a year and contribute to diseases such as lung cancer, strokes and asthma.

The report calls for a range of measures to reduce the pollution impacts of old trucks including low emission zones for Sydney and Melbourne within the next three years, that would ban diesel trucks more than two decades old.

It’s sobering reading but it’s gratifying when major reports such as this back up everything we’ve been saying for years!

There are now two expert reports calling on governments to address the issue of old trucks in urban areas due to their health impacts on local communities – one by Austroads and now this one by the Grattan Institute.

Both reports single out the City of Maribyrnong as a perfect example of a highly impacted community.

Both reports call for a low emission zone.

Both reports call for financial support for industry to upgrade the fleet, highlighting the crucial work that trucks do.

Both reports have calculated the cost to the health system to keep these old trucks running and its absolutely massive.

This must end.  Addressing this problem is good for the economy, good for community and good for industry. Government cannot ignore this any longer.

This was reported on widely in the media, including The Age, Star Weekly and Fully Loaded.

The Grattan Institute also released a very informative podcast about their report.

As lead author and Grattan Institute’s transport and cities program director Marion Terrill says, “the country needs to act faster to limit the harm that trucks cause to people’s health and the environment.”  “People think low-emission zones are a big deal, but it is really a very well accepted policy overseas, and it shouldn’t be seen as radical,”

In May 2023 Marion Terrill wrote an opinion piece titled ‘Dirty old trucks and sick kids. Melbourne, we’ve got a problem in the west’ which was published in The Age.  She was also interviewed on ABC Melbourne on the day this piece was published.

This opinion piece is published on the Grattan Institute’s website with the stark headline “Truck pollution kills“.

Says it all – Truck Pollution Kills!

 


There has been a series of incredibly comprehensive articles in the media recently, shedding light on the devastating effects of air pollution on our health in Melbourne’s inner west.

In late January The Age ran a fantastic story titled, The breathtaking state of truck pollution in Melbourne’s west.  This was written by a group of journalism students from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism.

The story highlighted Maribyrnong residents’ poor health for diseases commonly attributed to air pollution and mentioned the decades long fight by community groups such as MTAG.  It also discussed the Inner West Air Quality Report and its shocking revelations on the state of health impacts in the community.

Respiratory physician Dr Louis Irving is quoted as saying “it’s already a crisis” describing how we have reached a tipping point when it comes to vulnerable people’s exposure to air pollution.

This story won the Democracy’s Watchdogs 2022 award for investigative journalism – for the key elements of “holding power to account, exposing hidden and underreported issues, having strong case studies and being in the public interest”.  A well deserved award!

In late February The Age ran another story titled The hidden road toll: Pollution may kill 10 times more than crashes

This front page story looked at a new report released by the Melbourne Climate Futures centre at the University of Melbourne finding that vehicle emissions are estimated to cause a shocking 11,105 premature deaths a year in Australia, as well as 12,210 cardiovascular hospitalisations and 66,000 childhood asthma cases. The story used Melbourne’s inner west as an example of an area with heavy pollution from trucks, high rates of lung and heart conditions and an inadequate government response to addressing the problem.

The ABC also ran a story on this research, with the Heart Foundation chief medical adviser and cardiologist Garry Jennings saying that policy makers should do everything possible to have the cleanest fuels and regulate emissions as it’s  “clear that very fine particles are capable of damaging not only the lungs but also the heart and cardiovascular systems”

This was followed by a much more comprehensive article on the ABC titled Air pollution causes thousands of deaths in Australia each year. Residents and scientists are fighting back.

Again this story highlighted air pollution in Melbourne’s inner west. The article quotes health and air pollution experts, including Keith Loveridge who recently worked at Maribyrnong Council and wrote their Air Quality Improvement Plan. As Keith points out, Australia’s air pollution standards aren’t nearly as strict as those recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and often when air is considered good under Australian standards, it would be considered poor under WHO guidelines. The article also looks at the air monitoring carried out by the West Gate Tunnel with a new report looking at this data finding that local air pollution levels increased the chance of a child with asthma experiencing the illness by 33%.

The article also discusses the age of our trucking fleet with Peter Anderson, CEO of the Victorian Transport Association saying the average age of a truck on an Australian road is 17 years, with the old trucks doing the inner city short hall runs.  He calls on the government to create a clear transition plan for the industry with incentives for companies to change.

This was also a feature story on the ABC 7pm news.

These articles are frightening but we are so relieved that this health situation is finally being exposed for what it is – a crisis.  We are also heartened to have experts backing up the messages we’ve been putting out for almost two decades.  Momentum is building and evidence is well and truly on our side.


It is almost State election time here in Victoria. To help you make an informed vote MTAG has contacted candidates who are running in the inner west to see what they are promising in regard to the truck issue.

As any resident or visitor to the City of Maribyrnong knows, trucks are a contentious issue here with well over 8 million truck movements taking place on residential streets each year.

Many promises have been made to our community over the past 20 years in terms of action to minimise the trucks, however many have never eventuated.

Currently there are some great promises on the table from the Andrew’s government with the promised West Gate Tunnel Project 24/7 truck bans on most of the existing freight routes – with the exception of Williamstown and Millers Roads. (These roads will actually experience an increase in truck numbers.) The current Labor government is also heavily investing in freight rail infrastructure that promises to reduce truck numbers.

We have heard other promises in the past with the now defunct Andrew’s government Western Distributor plans (replaced by the WGTP) and previous freight on rail promises from the Steve Bracks’ government that never eventuated. The brief Liberal Napthine Government promised us that their East West Freeway Link, in the northern suburbs, would be our truck solution here in the west. How that could achieve change here was never explained.

For this election, MTAG sent out an 8 point action list, which has broad community and expert support, to all candidates. We asked if they either ‘support’, ‘do not support’ or ‘support conditionally’ each of the action points. We also gave candidates an opportunity to provide a 200 word statement on the issue of trucks, air quality and any action they plan to take if successful at the election.

The Greens, Socialists and Labor provided a joint statement of behalf of all their candidates.

We did not receive any response, by the deadline requested, from the following:

  • Catherine Cumming
  • The United Party
  • Liberal Democrats
  • New Democrats
  • Labor DLP

Here is our policy score card. You will see that some candidate/parties candidates ignored our action list but did provide a statement instead. These are listed below the table.

Sustainable Australia PartyThe GreensLabor PartyThe SocialistsLiberal Party
Installation of filtration in the West Gate Tunnel ventilation stacks prior to the tunnel opening to protect the surrounding residential population from excessive and potentially dangerous PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 emissions.

YES (2.)

Support conditionally (1.)

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Introduction of a night and weekend truck curfew on Williamstown Road to give residents respite from ever increasing truck numbers.

YES (2.)

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Require identifying signage on trucks using Moore Street for easier enforcement and so that the community can see if they have a curfew exemption.

YES (2.)

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Introduction of a Low Emission Zone in Melbourne’s inner west where air quality is known to be consistently poor.

YES (2.)

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Expedite the Western Intermodal Freight Terminal at Truganina to reduce trucks on suburban roads.

YES (2.)

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Changes to State planning legislation to require ‘sensitive use’ facilities, including schools, childcare and aged care, to be located a minimal distance from high volume truck routes.

YES

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Update Victoria's air pollution standards for particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide to match those of the World Health Organisation.

YES

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

Update of the State Government’s Traffic Noise Reduction Policy based on the review undertaken in 2016.

YES

YES

No response, but statement provided

YES

No response, but statement provided

(1.) The Greens support filtration where there is modelling or other evidence that the filtration will make a measurable difference to local pollution.

(2.) Bert Jessup, Upper House candidate for Western Metropolitan Region provided the following comments to our action list –

  • The stacks provide an opportunity to capture and filtrate emissions. It makes sense to seize this opportunity.  If elected, I will support the installation of filtration to mitigate the air quality impact of the West Gate Tunnel Project on the residential population.   It’s only fair that residents get some respite. If elected, I will support this initiative. SAP’s Transport policy includes: ” Upgrade Australia’s freight rail infrastructure to boost national productivity and remove truck journeys from our roads.
  • The residents of Moore Street have lived with heavy transport movements for more than 50 years.  The residents deserve the respite the curfew offers; however, the curfew is of little value if it is not enforced.  If elected, I will support the introduction of identifying signage to enhance enforcement and to provide assurance to residents the requirement for exemptions is not being ignored or flaunted.
  • If elected, I will support all initiatives to improve air quality in Melbourne’s inner west, including a Low Emission Zone.
  • If elected, I will support expediting the Western Freight Terminal at Truganina to reduce and better manage truck movements in residential areas.  I will also support initiatives to substitute rail for trucking movements.
  • Sustainable Australia Party policies on  Environment, Planning and Development and Transport can be read here

APPENDUM:

The Animal Justice Party contacted us almost immediately after we published this page apologising for missing the deadline. They support all of our listed actions with the exception of  ‘Update of the State Government’s Traffic Noise Reduction Policy based on the review undertaken in 2016.’ which they ‘support conditionally’ with the following comment: Dependent on the outcome of the 2016 review and any other reviews given that the management of road traffic noise in Victoria is generally excluded from specific ‘regulation/legislation’.

Here are the statements we received:

Melissa Horne MP – Labor Party – Labor knows the importance of tackling air quality in the inner west. And now we’ve developed the Clean Air Strategy for all Victorians to improve air quality, investing $2.8 million for projects including:

  • Air quality improvement precincts in the inner and outer west of Melbourne;
  • Green wall trials of densely planted vegetation to buffer pollution;
  • Grants for industries in the inner west to reduce emissions.

Trucks will be banned on six key routes when the Westgate Tunnel is complete.

In the meantime, to reduce air pollution from the older trucks doing short haul runs between Brooklyn/Tottenham and the Port of Melbourne, Labor will:

  • Get the oldest, most polluting trucks off our streets through a $15m grants program replacing older vehicles;
  • Invest $5m for local councils to seal more roads in the inner west, reducing dust pollution.

And we’re already:

  • Helping industry relocate to where they have better access to the port through suitable road networks;
  • Trialling two hydrogen and 50 electric buses on 15 school services and 26 routes in the inner west;
  • Taking trucks of local roads by delivering the Port Rail Shuttle Network – freight trains are now running between Altona and the Port;
  • Fast tracking our transition to a clean energy future targeting net zero emissions by 2045.

Moira Deeming – Liberal Party – I hope you’ll appreciate that I’m not allowed to make policy announcements or anything approaching it, as a candidate.

However, I will say that anything that improves the woeful safety measures and pollution issues from our infrastructure projects is something I am already personally and professionally, very deeply interested in improving.

So, what I can say genuinely to you, is that any and all improvements are on the table for me. I’ll research any idea with an open mind, with the view to giving it my full support if it helps achieve more environmentally friendly and healthy outcomes for our residents and workers.

Bert Jessup – Sustainable Australia Party – Residents of the inner west desperately need immediate relief from the impact of truck movements.  If elected, I will support all reasonable initiatives to eliminate heavy truck movements from residential streets, enhance road safety, reduce congestion, calm traffic and improve air quality.  I will also champion long-term investment and a paradigm shift to move heavy freight from road on to rail.  Currently over 95% of freight movements from the Port of Melbourne are by truck.  This has to change!  The intermodal Truganina freight terminal promises to be the start of a better way to move freight.  If elected, I will support expediting the development of the internodal freight terminal. The Sustainable Australia Party’s overriding environmental policy recognises: “that a healthy natural environment is the foundation upon which all human wellbeing and prosperity is built …”

Catherine Robertson, Jorga Jorquera and Liz Walsh – Victorian Socialists – We strongly believe that vehicle emissions need to be drastically reduced in order to improve air quality. In the working-class suburbs of the west and north particularly, trucks contribute significantly to both air pollution and traffic congestion.

All our transport systems must be environmentally sustainable. New investment must prioritise low- and zero-emission, energy-efficient, affordable modes of transport, including electric and alternative-fuel vehicles. Fossil fuel-reliant vehicles, freight and traffic should be phased out as quickly as possible without causing disadvantage to working-class people.

Looking to the future, it’s vital to evaluate the likely health and environmental effects of all major transport infrastructure projects in the planning stages, with any identified negative effects to be considered in assessing the suitability of the project.

We will argue for these measures and strongly support any local community campaigns on these issues.

The Greens provided their Transport, Emissions and Pollution policy statement –


Maribyrnong City Council has a Public Question Time at Council and Committee meetings where the public can seek responses from Council about issues affecting them. MTAG took advantage of this to ask some questions at the Council meeting on 18 October 2022.

First, MTAG asked Council whether the issue of trucks in Maribyrnong was one of the federal advocacy priorities raised when the Mayor travelled to Canberra to meet with Ministers and their offices, particularly the federal advocacy items in Council’s Air Quality Improvement Plan and the Inner West Air Quality Report.

The Chief Executive Officer advised that information was provided to Ministers and Ministerial offices regarding the health impact of poor air quality on the City of Maribyrnong community. Information was taken directly from Council’s Air Quality Improvement Plan, Climate Emergency Strategy and Climate Action Plan.

Specific requests to the Federal Government included:

  1. Initiate a heavy vehicle buy-back scheme and incentivise more fuel efficient heavy vehicles;
  2. Work in partnership with state governments to transition the diesel passenger and freight train network to electro-diesel;
  3. Introduce a ban on all diesel and petrol vehicle sales by 2030; and
  4. Introduce mandatory vehicle emission standards.

The CEO detailed that the Federal Government expressed interest in the role that cleaner and greener industrial, advanced technology and creative uses can play, particularly for the health and wellbeing of young people, and advised that Council will continue to advocate for this as a priority and engage across state and federal government for improved public health outcomes for our community.

MTAG also asked what action Council had taken in response to a pedestrian being struck and killed by a truck in the City of Maribyrnong in mid October 2022, and whether Council was concerned that this fatality had occurred on Moreland Road which is a continuation of Whitehall Street, a street that in recent years has seen two cyclists killed and another taken to hospital with serious injuries following accidents involving trucks.

The CEO acknowledged the recent tragic pedestrian fatality at the intersection of Moreland Street and Parker Street. Council Officers have discussed this incident with Victoria Police and the Department of Transport. The CEO advised that given the incident is currently under investigation, it was not appropriate for Council to comment further in relation to this particular event, but that more broadly, Council continues to partner with the Department of Transport and its other road safety partners to implement safety initiatives along arterial road corridors, especially for more vulnerable road users.

MTAG is pleased to see that Council has advocated to Federal government on the issue of trucks and their impact on air quality and is working with the Department of Transport and others to make our streets safer. However, talk can be easy and we hope that these meetings and discussions ultimately lead to real action to address the problems we face with trucks in our community every single day.


MTAG recently made a submission and presentation to Maribynong councillors as part of the 2022-23 budget process to call for Council to appoint an Air Quality Advocacy and Action Executive Officer. A role like this does not currently exist within the organisation. Unfortunately the idea was rejected by the councillors.

Council has said that work on air quality is led by an Environment team who are part of a recently formed Planning and Environment Directorate. Apparently this team will continue to lead and coordinate Council’s response to air quality issues, including advocacy. In MTAG’s experience, Council staff working on air quality have many responsibilities and competing priorities, and are unable to dedicate the resources needed to address the terrible problem of poor air quality and associated serious adverse health effects that our community faces every day.

As we all know, diesel exhaust from the estimated at 34,000 trucks per day traversing our city is now ubiquitous in our local environment and contributes significantly to the toxic load in the air we breathe. Council is reliant on other levels of government to affect real change to improve our air quality and MTAG is concerned that the new team will be under resourced and lack the expertise needed to advocate effectively and influence other levels of government to invest in actions to improve our air quality. MTAG thinks that would have been a significant strategic investment for this community, with the potential to leverage investment by others, such as the recent State Government investment of $350,000 to be spent on traffic management cameras to monitor truck movements and identify problem areas.

It is unfortunate that the Councillors disagree and have not leapt at the opportunity to be a leader amongst Councils in Victoria and Australia in advocating for clean air.

Read our budget submission here – MTAG_2022-23_budget_proposal

Watch our presentation to councillors at the Hearing of Budget Submissions here