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.