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NEVER get between a politician and a good news story.
Labor MP for Footscray Marsha Thomson on Monday morning this week had letters hand-delivered to residents of Railway Place, a street in her electorate that had campaigned hard against their homes being demolished for the government's $4.3 billion Regional Rail Link project.
''I am pleased to be able to announce today that the route chosen for the Regional Rail Link will not impact on your neighbourhood,'' wrote Ms Thomson, a state government minister for seven years until 2006.
''This neighbourhood pocket will continue to be a great place to live and raise your family.''
Bad news, it seems, is not so easy for Ms Thomson to deliver.
Buckley Street in Footscray, a kilometre away, is also in Ms Thomson's electorate.
There, residents found out late on Monday afternoon - from reporters instead of via hand-delivered letters - that their homes would most likely be demolished to make way for the rail line.
Premier John Brumby this week offered a belated apology to Buckley Street residents for failing to notify them that their homes would be taken until after he had made an announcement to a business lunch at Federation Square's Zinc restaurant on Monday.
Some residents in Footscray's Short and Albert streets found out as late as Tuesday night their houses were likely to make way for the railway, which is largely funded by a $3.2 billion Gillard government grant.
Asked last night about revelling in the happy news while leaving it to others to - unsuccessfully - hand out the grim, Ms Thomson said she had not known which Buckley Street houses would go.
''I was informed they would be informed sensitively and in a caring way, individually,'' said Ms Thomson, who is now the government's parliamentary secretary for justice.
Railway Place residents had approached Ms Thomson in recent months, in a bid to stop their homes being taken for the rail line.
''I had no one from Buckley Street come to see me,'' Ms Thomson said.
Ms Thomson's letter failed to impress Railway Place residents, who are outraged at the secrecy still surrounding the project.
''Even now there is a complete lack of transparency about it,'' resident Elonie Prenter said.
''They haven't even released a proper map showing where the tracks will go.''
Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula confirmed yesterday 84 properties, including the 26 homes in Footscray, will likely be taken for the rail line.
''If people have been notified that their properties are likely to be required, the overwhelming likelihood is that they will,'' he said.
Mr Brumby yesterday also confirmed a $20 million Salvation Army aged-care hostel in Buckley Street, due for completion in September, could be partly demolished.
''They have been advised that they may be affected, but until the exact final route is chosen and the buffer in relation to that, there is no certainty.''
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