Tony Abbott warns Victoria: build East West Link or lose $3bn

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Guardian: Tony Abbott warns Victoria: build East West Link or lose $3bn. Melissa Davey, Wednesday 26 November 2014

Prime minister writes open letter to leaders of Victoria’s main parties telling them the federal funding can only be used on the controversial toll road

Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrews says if Labor wins the election, they will will rip up the contracts for the East West Link. Photograph: Victorian government

Tony Abbott has written an open letter to the leaders of Victoria’s main parties to “make it absolutely clear” that $3bn in federal funding cannot be used for anything except the controversial East West Link.

In the letter addressed to the premier, Denis Napthine, and the Labor opposition leader, Daniel Andrews, Abbott said the East West Link had become an election issue and he wanted to be clear the federal funding could not be allocated elsewhere.

“Let me repeat: the $3bn the commonwealth government has committed to this project is for one purpose and for one purpose only – and that is to build the East West Link.

“If a future government is not prepared to spend the money on the East West Link, then that money will not be forthcoming from the government.”

Abbott posted the letter on social media and encouraged people to share it if they want the East West Link to be built.

Tony Abbott letter about East West Link Photograph: Facebook

Andrews has said if he is elected on Saturday, Labor will rip up the contracts for the 18km toll road – the largest and most expensive transport infrastructure in the country – and instead allocate funding for public transport.

Labor’s transport spokesman, Anthony Albanese, told ABC radio on Wednesday morning Victorian voters were being intimidated into backing the project.

“What [Abbott’s] attempting to do is not so much intimidate the Victorian Labor party, he’s trying to intimidate Victorian voters,” Albanese said.

“He’s saying if you elect Labor, you won’t get your fair share of infrastructure dollars.”

He said the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel promised by Labor, which would complement the City Loop and increase passenger capacity, had undergone a full cost-benefit analysis which had been made public.

The Napthine government has not released the business case and full costings for the East West Link.

Napthine has appeared to be distancing himself from Abbott, with 23% of Victorian voters saying they were less likely to re-elect the Coalition because of the performance of the federal government.

Last month, speaking about the $3bn the federal government had pledged for the road project, Napthine said: “We welcome the prime minister’s involvement in infrastructure, but we do have our differences.”

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