Besieged on five fronts, the Government denies reality

Besieged on five fronts, the Government denies reality By Andrew Herington

The Coalition has fallen so deeply in love with the East West Link that they are blind to its faults. The tollway is now dragging down their pitch for re-election, yet they keep promoting it. The LMA Newsletter being letterboxed through inner Melbourne is full of engineering drawings of massive bridges and roads lovingly given such fanciful names as “the Soundwave”, “vertical garden” and the “ribbon motif”. This doesn’t convince the target audience – it enrages them.

Yet, the Coalition Ministers and their engineers believe their own propaganda and see their project as a thing of beauty as well as an economic miracle. They just can’t see what everyone else sees – seven massive freeway viaducts destroying a major park, overpasses metres from resident homes, increased traffic, noise, air pollution and a massive sink hole for scarce capital funds that will prevent major upgrades to public transport for a decade.

Tellingly, they have made no effort to moderate the design of the project or take up any of the Assessment Committee recommendations to lessen the environmental impacts. They love it the way it is – and many of the most recent design changes make the situation worse not better.

The number of jobs to be created has been massively inflated. The CIS dubiously claimed 3,200 temporary construction jobs offset by the permanent loss of 203 existing jobs in properties being demolished. This was stretched to 3,700 for Stage 1, then “6,000 at peak employment” then 7,500. Now it is the basis for a Liberal claim of 200,000 new jobs over 5 years. Continue Reading…

Sovereign Risky Business

The Canberra Times: Canberra’s $780m light rail line gets final go ahead, business case to be released. September 15, 2014, Tom McIlroy and Kirsten Lawson

Liberal leader of the ACT opposition, Jeremy Hanson introduced a note of uncertainty over the Canderra light rail project, warning companies that the Liberals would scrap it if they won government in 2016.

“What I’d say to any company that is considering getting involved in light rail is they need to consider that if the people of the ACT at the 2016 election reject this government then they have rejected light rail and we will not be in a position where we’re going to proceed with an infrastructure project that has been rejected by this community,” he said.

He called on the government not to lock the project in by signing contracts before the election.

If this is a government that is simply going to try and sign contracts to lock this community in before the next election then that is a bastard act of politics. It is unfair on the people of Canberra for this government to impose $800 million of their money on a project that Canberrans don’t need and simply can’t afford.”

Thank you Mr Hanson, we couldn’t have put it more lucidly.

YCAT Editorial – Fact Busters

With the East West link slowly sinking under its own weight, big business is pulling out all stops to try and save it. Treasurer Michael O’Brien said Labor’s position was “economically insane, and would cost Victoria $3 billion and 6200 jobs”.

Tony Abbot has promised $3 billion, some of it for stage 2, as part of his ‘stick to your knitting’ no trains policy. That funding can now be reassigned to higher priority and more productive projects such as the unfunded Melbourne Metro. So that’s hardly a cost, more of a gain.

The Treasurer also said no one would want to do business with a Labor government that was prepared to “rip up contracts and … go back on their word.” The contracts will be unenforceable, so there is no need to rip up anything, they can simply be set aside.

We are not going to be held hostage by Mr Andrews and his reckless behaviour, we are going to get on with negotiating the final stages of these contracts, signing the contracts and getting on with building the East West Link.”

Michael West in Fairfax Business Day, put it succinctly,

“This idea that you can stick an incoming government with an $8 billion bill just weeks before an election is a bit rich”. The government is recklessly trying to hold the next parliament hostage to contracts.

“Nobody should ever be required to commit $8 billion of other people’s money on a project that they know nothing about and which lacks community approval in any case. This would be truly reckless.”
Michael West, Business Day, September 12, 2014, p.32.

Continue Reading…

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