Stoush over light rail contract reignited by East West Link deal

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Canberra Times: Stoush over light rail contract reignited by East West Link deal Tom McIlroy April 15, 2015

The ACT opposition has welcomed the Victorian government’s agreement to pay $339 million to get out of a controversial road tunnel project, saying it proves Canberra’s light rail project could be ditched at a “reasonable” price.

Liberal transport spokesman Alistair Coe said Premier Daniel Andrew’s claim the state would pay just 3 per cent of the East West Link’s total contract cost in compensation suggested ACT taxpayers could pay less than $30 million if a new government cancelled contracts for the $783 million Gungahlin to the city tram line.

The Liberals have pledged to pay their way out of the deal after the 2016 election but have never specified how much they would be prepared to spend.

But Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell dismissed the claims and said a future Liberal government would instead face bills of “hundreds of millions” to exit signed contracts and would risk thousands of jobs.

Mr Coe’s comments also left him at odds with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday.