Delays on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines are causing frustration for Holt residents
Named after PM Harold Holt 1966-67, who disappeared at Portsea Beach, the outer metropolitan electorate is the 8th fastest growing region in Australia, with the highest propotion of workforce in manufacturing. Holt has been a safe Labor seat since 1999, though became marginal between 2004-2007. Prominent issues in the electorate are infrastructure, housing and lack of employment options.
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Infrastructure, housing affordability and transport are the big issues in one of Australia’s fastest-growing seats.
Holt has a population of more than 190,000 after a 3.25 per cent increase in 2014-15. This growth has boosted demand for high-density housing. However, many residents oppose the new estates springing up around the electorate's suburbs.
The ALP is expected to retain the seat in which Anthony Byrne has been MP since a 1999 by-election after Deputy Labor leader Gareth Evans resigned.
Byrne retained Holt comfortably, despite a - 6.9 percent swing at the 2013 election. Labor has held the once marginal seat since former Hawke government minister Michael Duffy won it in 1980.
Encouraged by increased support at the last federal election, the Liberal’s James Mathias is eyeing the seat in Melbourne’s south east named for former Prime Minister Harold Holt who drowned while swimming at Cheviot Beach in December 1967.
The 131 square kilometre electorate includes the suburbs of Narre Warren, Cranbourne, Hampton Park, Hallam, Endeavour Hills and Lysterfield South.
The area is attractive to young and migrant families due to its proximity to the city and ease of access to schools and facilities. These factors continue to make Holt’s housing market highly competitive.
Cranbourne First National real estate agent Jason Brown said more was needed to increase availability as the area’s house prices were driven by demand.
“As prices rise, it does make [buying] very difficult,” Brown said. “The increase in house pricing is coming namely from a lack of housing availability to the increasing population.”
Brown said more supply would help potential buyers in the area. He said despite the need for new housing estates, local councils had created setbacks by refusing to allow subdivision of large blocks.
While the area’s population is increasing, job opportunities are not. Limited employment access continues to force more than 60 per cent of residents to commute outside the electorate for work. This has led to significant road congestion and overcrowding on public transport.
The work commute has put massive pressure on the Cranbourne-Pakenham rail line – Melbourne’s busiest, which has been the subject to many delays, and subsequently complaints over the past four months.
Coupled with poor infrastructure, the overcrowded rail corridors cannot keep up with the increasing demand.
Residents are frustrated with constant delays on both the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. Commuters have taken to social media to express their frustration; one commented on Twitter.
While there are currently no plans to improve capacity along the rail lines, emphasis has been placed on removing several level crossings along the Pakenham corridor.
Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said it was clear that both Metro and the State Government were unprepared for the increase of public transport use in Holt.