Moonee Valley Council to take its fight against the East West Link to the Supreme Court

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Moonee Valley Leader: Moonee Valley Council to take its fight against the East West Link to the Supreme Court. Linh Ly. 16 October 2014

Moonee Valley Council will launch its own Supreme Court case against the East West Link to convince the State Government to change its designs.

The council will argue State Planning Minister Matthew Guy acted “irrationally” in his decisions and interpretation of his powers under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act (2009).

At a special meeting last night, a packed gallery heard councillors speak passionately against the $8 billion road project, erupting in applause when the council voted seven to one to take legal action.

Councillor Jim Cusack said they would challenge Mr Guy’s rationale in exercising his “secondary consents” rights to change the project’s design after undertaking a comprehensive impact assessment process.

These changes include adding Mt Alexander Rd ramps, a connector between Mt Alexander and Racecourse roads, an on-ramp at Ormond/Brunswick Rd and the loss of more open space.

“They picked up the trail end of all that Elliott Ave stuff and dropped it in Moonee Valley in Mt Alexander Rd,” Cr Cusack said.

“The great majority of it sits on top of Moonee Valley residents.”

The legal action does not attempt to quash the East West Link project altogether but aims to force the state to rethink its final design and implement the project in a way the council argues would follow correct protocol.

Moreland and Yarra councils are pursuing a separate Supreme Court action challenging the project, which will be heard on December 15.

Cr Nicole Marshall said she did not believe the council could negotiate any better outcomes by working with the state and Linking Melbourne Authority after trying for more than a year.

“There could be further changes. There are no guarantees this is as bad as it gets,” she said.

“When the people of Moonee Valley elect us they elect us to represent them. Let’s show the community, let’s show the Minister, the LMA, that we will not be disregarded in Moonee Valley.”- Cr Nicole Marshall.
Cr Cam Nation said “desperate times call for desperate measures” and the council had tried in good faith to work with the state and Linking Melbourne Authority to achieve a fair outcome.

“Taking on the State Government in the Supreme Court is well and truly a desperate measure (but) it is the only logical option left on the table,” he said.

Mayor Jan Chantry said 2ha of Moonee Valley land would be lost — the size of the MCG.

“It’s time for me and this council to come to the reality that we are hitting our heads against a brick wall,” Cr Chantry said.

“We need to understand the community down there is precious. We have some of the most vulnerable people down in Flemington.”

Cr Narelle Sharpe was the only council member to oppose the legal action, arguing: “I cannot justify paying ratepayers’ money on a project that will be built”.

Cr John Sipek was absent from the meeting.

The council estimates the case will cost $200,000 to launch and may be $340,000 if it lost the case.

Flemington Association president Les Potts said he was surprised but pleased with the council’s decision to make a stand.

Mr Potts said the community had tried to get involved in the process, submitting a 58-page document to the comprehensive impact statement, only for it to be irrelevant when a new design was approved.

Comment is being sought from Mr Guy’s office.

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