Skyrail critics yet to concede defeat

Allison Haddock and David Farrelly in the park next to the McGregor road level crossing. 187787_04

By Rowan Forster

The outspoken No Pakenham Skyrail movement has refused to wave the white flag, despite a historic swing towards Labor in the battleground seat of Bass.

As of Thursday, Skyrail appears to be a definite lock for the heart of Pakenham – with Jordan Crugnale creeps closer to victory.

In a two party preferred result, Ms Crugnale leads incumbent Brian Paynter with a narrow two per cent margin.

Almost a quarter of the total votes have not yet been tallied, meaning the Liberal MP is still in the fight, but momentum suggests the electorate will be seized by the Andrews Government.

While the Skyrail is set to proceed under the Andrews Government regardless of who claims Bass; opposition from Mr Paynter in parliament would likely impede the process.

Head of No Pakenham Skyrail David Farelley was quick to cite that Mr Paynter has so far yielded about 400 more first-preference votes than his opponent.

“The preferences haven’t been friendly, and if we didn’t have a preferential system we wouldn’t be getting a Skyrail,” he said.

“As it stands, Bass voted for Brian Paynter, not for Jordan Crugnale – because a great number of people do not want Skyrail to go ahead.

“A lot of people who were against Skyrail were in fact Labor voters, but they felt betrayed that they hadn’t been consulted.”

When posed with the reality that voters across Pakenham’s booths had voted in favour of Ms Crugnale, Mr Farelley said: “The vast majority of people in Pakenham still don’t know that there’s going to be a Skyrail because it wasn’t publicised by the Labor Party on their agenda.”

He added: “I was recently in a meeting with a couple of senior police members, and they had no idea about it.”

Mr Farrely said he and fellow campaigners have not yet given up hope.

“Until they finish counting the postal votes, we’ll see,” he said.

“I’m going to have a conversation with the people of No Pakenham Skyrail next week.

“I personally don’t believe the government will listen in any way, shape or form and that Pakenham will end up with a Skyrail, which is quite a disaster.”

For Mr Paynter to make a comeback, the Liberal MP would need a “phenomenal” performance in postal and absentee voting.

On Saturday night, Ms Crugnale held a 53 per cent lead in two-party preferred voting – the same 53-47 result of the Gazette’s Skyrail poll.

Her lead has since dropped to 51.98 per cent, indicating that – while unlikely – the remaining quarter of votes could sway the seat.

However, that did not stop Skyrail proponents and Labor supporters from ridiculing the No Pakenham Skyrail movement after Opposition Leader Matthew Guy conceded on Saturday.

“Feeling the burn today,” one user remarked.

“Did you see the swing in Pakenham,” another said.

Under the Labor Government’s commitment, the Skyrail will be operational by 2025.

It will eliminate level crossings at Racecourse Road, McGregor Road, Main Street and Cardinia Road.

It is worth noting that another state election will take place in 2022 – which could jeopardise the development, providing the Liberal Party can recover from November’s devastating defeat.

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