East West Link – On ne passe pas – No pasarán!

Update – 15 August 2015: A swift resolution to yesterdays palavar

Press Release from the Embassy of Spain on the Satisfactory resolution of the East West Link Project

The Embassy of Spain is very pleased to acknowledge the resolution of the Melbourne East West Link project announced today by Premier Daniel Andrews between the Government of Victoria and the East West Connect consortium.

This agreement, reached in good faith and to all parties’ satisfaction, will enable the Government of Victoria to strengthen the framework for infrastructure investment and to focus on future relevant initiatives. The consortium members will also be in a position to freely pursue future projects in the State of Victoria.

The Embassy of Spain avails itself of this opportunity to renew its commitment to further enhance the excellent relation with the present Government of Victoria.

Statement by His Excellency Christophe Lecourtier, Ambassador of France to Australia on the agreement relative to the East West Link project – 15 April 2015

I’m not in a position to comment on the decisions taken by the Victorian government about the project itself.
As far as the agreement announced this morning is concerned, let me just say that I believe the Victorian government has acted in a responsible way. To my mind, the outcome is good news for Victoria, good for Australian and for the business relationship between France and Australia.

Since beginning my tenure in Australia one of my main concerns has been to promote and facilitate French investment in Australia. Obviously I haven’t been part of negotiations between the Victorian government and the Consortium. The outcome this morning is the result of responsible and fair negotiations between the concerned parties.

 

acciona poster IT
And in todays latest tanty – Spanish & French members of the East West Link Consortium need to be reminded of what the locals told them back in November 2014.

On ne passe pas – No pasarán! Melbourne no aceptará la autopista East West Link (6 November 2014)

La compañía española Acciona es parte del consorcio seleccionado para construir la primera fase de una carretera de peaje de 18 kilometros de largo que atravesara la cuidad de Melbourne en Australia.  El proyecto se llama el East West Link.

La carretera atravesaría una de las zonas más antiguas y densamente pobladas de la ciudad. Unas docenas de casas y negocios serán derribados y unos cientos de casas y negocios serán adquirido obligatoriamente. Imagínense que esto mismo pasara en los barrios de Madrid, o en las areas céntricas de Barcelona! More in link.

Tim Pallas, Victorian Treasurer, said today “I expect this to be resolved by the budget [on 5 May],”, so all this posturing is most likely about leveraging a compensation payout.

Have a spare moment? Why not contact the French & Spanish embassies and object to their intrusion into Victorian politics:

  • Christophe Lecourtier, the Ambassador of France to Australia: email: information.canberra-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr
  • Embassy of France contact details
  • Enrique Viguera, Spanish Ambassador email: emb.canberra@maec.es
  • Embassy of Spain contact details

Guardian Australia: East West Link: complaints from Spain and France won’t change Victoria’s mind. Tuesday 14 April 2015

State treasurer says Labor is determined to keep its election promise to dump the road and negotiations to axe the contract should be resolved by 5 May

Complaints from the Spanish and French governments will not change Victoria’s attitude to compensation for dumping the East West Link road tunnel, the state treasurer has said.

“They might not like the way that we’re proceeding about it, but I make no apology for protecting the interests of the Victorian taxpayer,” the treasurer, Tim Pallas.

The Spanish company Acciona and the French company Bouygues were part of a consortium that won the right to build the $6.8bn project.

The European governments had lodged a joint protest with the Labor government about the treatment of the tenderers, the Australian reported on Tuesday.

Pallas said the state government would not ignore international concerns.

“Obviously when matters of diplomatic moment are raised they have to be taken seriously,” he said. More in link

 

Billions of dollars of Victorian taxpayers’ money is being wasted on bad government contracts

The Age: Billions of dollars of Victorian taxpayers’ money is being wasted on bad government contracts. Jason Dowling (21 January 2015)

Comment

Billions of dollars of Victorian taxpayer money could be washed away this year with nothing to show for it.

Why? Because taxpayers are being ripped off by reckless, selfish and opportunistic governments that care more about their immediate political fortunes than the future financial health of the state.

The fact that Victoria faces a massive compensation payout for the scrapping of the East West Link – perhaps a billion dollars – should be the subject of an independent inquiry and an Auditor-General investigation.

First of all the contract and any “side deals” must be made public.

The East West deal was signed just 36 days before caretaker period for a project that had no political mandate.

It was a risky/tricky deal where hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation could be owed should voters throw the government and the road project on the scrap heap.

Why would a government do that?

If you had the best interest of Victoria at heart the Coalition would have either said to the East West consortium there is no point signing the contract until after the election just a few weeks away or offered a contract that explicitly said there is no compensation should there be a change in government – given the opposition opposed the project.

Now Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and shadow treasurer Michael O’Brien should stop bleating about the compensation and finger pointing because the trail leads back to them.

The advice the former government received from treasury must be released to show how this awful deal for Victoria was arrived at.

Who negotiated such a deal? What does correspondence between the parties show? How was the compensation figure and trigger for the payment arrived at? Who knew what and when? What was the haste in signing the contract?

Just days before the November poll, government estimates of a $1.1 billion cost of breaking the contract emerged – it was a transparent attempt to blackmail voters, scare them into returning the Coalition government and it failed.

The worst part is governments have been signing terrible contracts in Victoria for years.

The courts have just awarded $540 million to gambling behemoth Tatts for a poker machine licence contract it entered into in 1995 – the state government may appeal this.

The contract promised Tatts a licence refund if Tatts – after making billions of dollars from poker machines in Victoria over two decades – was not given a new poker machine licence.

Tabcorp is attempting to take its fight with the Victorian government, for a $686 million poker machine licence payout, all the way to the High Court.

Governments are taking up-front cash and mortgaging the financial future of the state to later generations.

It is cynical, disingenuous politics and no way to manage a state. Where could that money have gone? The $1.1 billion compensation for the East West Link is the same price tag as Melbourne’s new Royal Children’s Hospital.

Tatts’ $540 million could have helped fund a new rail line to the airport or extend the rail line to Mernda.

Where will the money come from to pay these ridiculous compensation bills?

Registration fees went up $25 last year, straight from the household budget. How much of that will make up the $540 million Victoria now owes to Tatts? Or will it be the $50,000 in stamp duty payment for that next house purchase that goes to a toll road consortium who built nothing?

It has to stop. Those who make bad deals for all Victorians must be held to account.

Another port in the storm: The real reason for the East West Link

Independent Australia: Another port in the storm: The real reason for the East West Link. Dr Matthew Mitchell. 27 November 2014

With Victoria going to the polls on Saturday, Jenny Warfe and Dr Matthew Mitchell present compelling evidence the real reason for the East West Link is not road congestion but a superfluous new port project.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine’s figurehead multi-billion dollar road project, Melbourne’s East West Link, does not make financial sense — at least, not in the way it is being presented to the public. (More in link)

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