Councils’ East West Link legal challenge deferred until after election

The Age: Councils’ East West Link legal challenge deferred until after election. August 22, 2014. Adam Carey, Transport Reporter for The Age

A legal challenge that two inner city councils have launched against the East West Link has been put on hold until mid-December, more than two weeks after the state election and about two months after the Napthine government hopes to contractually lock in the road project.

The trial date for the case of the cities of Moreland and Yarra against the East West Link will be heard in the Supreme Court on December 15 following a directions hearing on Friday.

The councils want a judicial review of Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s decision in June to approve the government’s flagship major project, on the grounds the planning process was botched.

Mr Guy made important changes to the reference design for the 5.2-kilometre freeway, most notably when he deleted a planned interchange at Elliott Avenue in Royal Park in favour of an alternative freeway exit onto Flemington Road. This freeway exit was not part of the planning process.

Two consortiums are bidding to build the $8 billion road between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink and the government is seeking to sign contracts before it enters caretaker mode on November 4. Labor opposes the road but says it would honour contracts for the project, should it win November’s poll.

Andrew Herington, a former Brumby government adviser who is playing a leading role in community campaigns against the road, said the legal challenge could still derail the project despite being deferred until well after contracts are due to be signed.

“If the planning approval is overturned in December, they will have to go back to the drawing board, which would add six to 12 months to any construction schedule,” Mr Herington said.

“Companies would be commencing work without certainty that the approvals will stand.”

The Mayor of Yarra, Jackie Fristacky, said: “This legal action is about the right of local communities to challenge governments when they don’t follow the rules around major projects. It is important to be clear, contract or no contract, the project cannot be built unless there is a valid approval.”

The Napthine government declined to comment on the legal challenge.

“We are committed to delivering this critical project on schedule. It would not be appropriate to comment on the judicial review process or matters before the court,” a spokeswoman said.

Mayor of Moreland Lambros Tapinos said Premier Denis Napthine should secure a mandate from the Victorian public for the project.

The councils’ challenge is one of three being heard against the road project. Labor’s shadow roads minister Luke Donnellan is seeking to force the government to release the project business case in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and Brunswick resident Anthony Murphy has mounted a Supreme Court challenge on the argument the government has breached consumer protection laws, by making “misleading representations” about its estimated cost benefits.

Transport tops list as readers reveal passions and gripes before poll

Guardian Australia: Transport tops list as readers reveal passions and gripes before poll. 22 August 2014

Roads and public transport are the issues that garnered the biggest response from readers in our first Victorian election blog

There was lots of reaction to the launch of this new blog on Thursday, and many suggestions of how to do better or what to do next from you via comments, email and Twitter. Here’s a quick summary of what you had to say:

Transport, transport, transport

People are passionate about transport, with many of you thinking it will be the single most critical issue in the upcoming election (now in 99 days). There’s big concern about the lack of transparency over the East West Link business case, and a view that public transport woes helped defeat the Brumby government, with the Napthine government failing to heed the lessons. There was also criticism of Labor’s position that it will honour the contract for EW Link if it is signed before the 29 November election. For background, here’s Shaun Carney supporting the EW Linkin the Herald Sun in June. The Yarra Campaign for Action on Transport (YCAT) has published a detailed history and critique of the project.

Read more here

Support to residents impacted by East West home acquisition

City of Yarra: Support to residents impacted by East West home acquisition. 12 August 2014

Council is offering support to residents who recently received a letter from the Linking Melbourne Authority advising that their homes will be acquired to make way for construction of the East West Link.

Council understands this is a distressing and uncertain time for the community and is offering the following assistance to residents who received letters or who are affected by the East West Link project.

In addition to accessing the services below, Council strongly encourages residents to seek independent legal advice regarding any correspondence received from the Linking Melbourne Authority.

Council’s support to residents affected by the East West Link:

  • Free meeting space/s will be made available on a regular basis should residents need a place to meet as a group, or with lawyers or support or counselling services.
  • If needed, free child care / playgroup services can be provided to coincide with the use of the free meeting space.
  • A free interpreter service can be provided to assist people of non-English speaking backgrounds to understand information about the project.

To access any of these services, residents can contact Council on 9205 5555.

Residents are also encouraged to highlight anyone they know from vulnerable groups who may need special assistance or support (for example elderly residents, people with health conditions, people with a disability and people from non-English speaking backgrounds who are already clients of Council’s community services).If you know someone who falls into this category and may need extra assistance, contact Council on 9205 5555.

Council remains strongly opposed to the East West Link and the impact it would have on local neighbourhoods, the environment, transport congestion and health and wellbeing.

Council recently joined Moreland Council in Supreme Court action against the project. The legal challenge seeks a judicial review of the Minister for Planning’s approval of the East West.

Council also continues to support the Trains Not Toll Roads campaign, which unites the community’s calls for improvements to public transport as a solution to Melbourne’s traffic congestion, rather than spending on roads. To find out more about the campaign and how to get involved, visit www.trainsnottollroads.com.au or join on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TrainsNotTollRoads

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