Dole bludging East West protester Tony Murphy’s court challenges cost taxpayers $1.7m

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Herald Sun: Dole bludging East West protester Tony Murphy’s court challenges cost taxpayers $1.7m. Aleks Devic, Rita Panahi. 17 October 2014

Notorious dole-bludging protester Tony Murphy has cost the Victorian taxpayer $1.7 million in his failed court bids to stop the East West Link.

The figure has been revealed as his latest High Court bid to stall the $8 billion road tunnel failed yesterday.

Mr Murphy, whose court challenge is partly publicly funded, is unemployed.

On the Newstart allowance of $515.60 per fortnight, he would need 127 years to repay the money the Government has spent on lawyers to fight the one-man wrecking ball.

Mr Murphy lives in Brunswick East, where the median house price is almost $700,000.

The State Government has signed contracts to build the tollway’s first stage but the Opposition argues it is not legally binding and has vowed that if it wins the election the multi-billion contract would be torn up.

Police have had to drag Mr Murphy off main roads during several heated protests, and he has also chained himself to a drilling rig.

Mr Murphy denied yesterday that he was wasting taxpayers’ money and vowed to continue his fight until the project is scrapped.

“It’s a tiny amount (the legal fees) compared with the total cost of the project,” he said.

“It’s not about me — this action is on behalf of the public and the public interest.

“Of course it (the failed High Court challenge) is a setback, but we will fight on.”

Last month Victoria’s Court of Appeal granted Mr Murphy a retrial in his battle against the project, but refused to grant an injunction barring the Government from signing a contract for the construction of the $8 billion roadway.

Ron Merkel, QC, told the High Court that the matter was too urgent to be sent back to a lower court for a retrial.

But Justice Susan Crennan was unconvinced, saying the High Court was not satisfied the Victorian court had made any error of law, and denied special leave to appeal.

Government sources have told the Herald Sun the Linking Melbourne Authority has spent $530,000 on barristers, another $530,000 on solicitors and $150,000 internally.

The Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure has spent $390,000 on barristers and solicitors and $100,000 internally.

Mr Murphy, who declined to comment on when he last had a job, was earlier this month fined $250 and put on a good behaviour bond for his role in a violent demonstration against the East West Link.

aleks.devic@news.com.au

Twitter: @AleksDevic

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