Victorian taxpayers will have to pay $1.4 billion in compensation to the government by March 2015 if Labor wins the state election and halts plans for the East-West Link to be built.
Jason Wood, Federal Member for Latrobe, said there is a $1.1 billion contract penalty for cancelling the contract and a further $3 billion of dedicated Federal government East-West funding that would need to be returned. He told The Newsroom: “The Labor Party in Victoria believes it can change the law to nullify the contract. If this happens no future organisation interested in investing into our infrastructure would take the Victorian government seriously. This will have serious implications for our credit rating and international financial reputation.”
The opposition said they are astounded the government signed the contract for the development so soon before the election. James Milne, spokesperson for Residents Against the Tunnel, told The Newsroom: “RAT is opposed to the East-West Link. We think it is bad because it is a bad government; bad planning that compromises the planning processes. We are absolutely appalled that any government could sign contracts – the nature of that signed, six weeks before an election where it is secretly poised until they added it. We hope the government is completely condemned and wiped out on survey because of that. They do not deserve to govern anymore after doing that. Any questions about the move or value of the project is irrelevant when the government does something that is not in the interests of people they are governing. It is a total cynical and political ploy. We think they should be out of office just on the basis of that and their actions.”
Mr Wood said there is an ever increasing problem for people and businesses in his electorate and all of Melbourne travelling to and from the city and it is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the Monash Freeway. He believes the East-West link is a vital project for the residents of La Trobe, all of Melbourne and businesses trying to commute on roads in and around Melbourne.
“If the East-West link is not built Melbourne traffic will eventually slow to a gridlock. People and businesses will find it impossible to get around,” he said.
The East-West link is expected to cost Victorians $5 billion per annum by 2021 and $7.2 billion per annum by 2031. The East-West link construction will create some 6700 construction jobs for the Victorian economy.
The Victorian state election will be held on Saturday November 29. – Suzanne Masri
Top photo from Cliffano Subagio’s Flickr photostream.