Oakleigh: It’s all about trains and roads


Tavleen Singh

Skyrail in Oakleigh

Located 12km south-east of the Melbourne CBD, the Oakleigh electorate has been a key transportation construction ground during the last two years.

The level-crossing removal program has totally changed the view of the streets. The skyrail flies over residents’ heads and the stations in Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Clayton have been refurbished.

Although the finishing touches of the upgraded train stations are still going on, the federal and the state governments are ready to implement new transportation plans for the Oakleigh electorate.

Further developments in the area form a long list: two stations on the $50 bn Suburban Railway Loops; the Monash freeway, which in part runs through Oakleigh, will be expended to ten lanes by 2022 and a new tram line will run between Caulfield and Rowville.

The City of Monash, part of which falls within the electorate of Oakleigh, joined seven other local councils to form the South East Melbourne lobby group (SEM) to call on politicians to focus on further infrastructure developments.

The SEM has developed an election platform which has ten key asks for the candidates in this election. Among them, the project that the Monash Council wants most is to lengthen Westall Road.

In the SEM proposal, the extended Westall Road will link the Princess Highway and the Monash Freeway, aiming to reduce congestion and serve the Monash Cluster.

The Monash Cluster, on which Monash University, Monash Medical Centre, Monash Children’s Hospital and headquarters for many large corporate offices are located, is a key employment and innovation area. It has Melbourne’s largest concentration of jobs outside the CBD.

Anticipating an increase in the population of the Cluster, the SEM hopes to provide better transportation facilities.

Statistics might explain why the politicians are obsessed with planning new routes in the area. In Oakleigh, more residents drive private cars than take public transport to work. According to the 2016 census, 59.7 per cent of employed people in Oakleigh use cars to get to work.

While Labor is busy shaping new infrastructure, the Opposition is focusing on crime and policing. The Coalition Leader Matthew Guy promises more police presence in Oakleigh.

If elected, the Coalition will establish police shop fronts in the Chadstone Shopping Centre, which is located in the Oakleigh electorate. Chadstone is among ten major shopping centres that will receive more funding to increase police presence according to the Coalition election platform.

The Oakleigh seat is currently held by the Labor MP Steve Dimopoulos. According to numbers from the last election, the Oakleigh electorate is a reasonably safe seat.

Since 1961, the seat of Oakleigh has generally been held by the government. Labor’s victories in 1979 and 2010 were the only two occasions that Oakleigh has broken this trend.

Oakleigh is home to 71,764 people and it covers 27 square kilometres.

The community is young and highly educated. According to the 2016 census, the Median age in the area is 32, five years younger than the average age in the rest of the state. In Oakleigh 44.5 per cent of the residents have a university degree, compared to the state average of 17.8 per cent.

Although Oakleigh is historically known as a Greek enclave, the last census showed that currently the most common ancestries among residents are English and Chinese.