The Napthine government left out crucial information about the east-west link when it submitted its business case to Infrastructure Australia last month, prompting the federal authority to seek more details.
The lack of detail about the $6 billion to $8 billion toll road’s economic credentials risks stymying the project if the federal Labor government is re-elected.
On Tuesday, Premier Denis Napthine used his government’s release of detailed designs on where the six-kilometre road will run to make a direct pitch to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. He said the case for the road was now undeniable and called on Mr Rudd to match Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s promise to put in $1.5 billion.
‘I’d urge Kevin Rudd to come down to Melbourne and … stand at the top of Hoddle Street and have a look at the Eastern Freeway at 7.30 to 8 o’clock in the morning, and I think he’ll get his cheque book out,”
But Infrastructure Australia co-ordinator Michael Deegan said the business case it received last month lacked enough detail and the authority could not yet make a call on whether the link deserved federal funding. ”We are seeking further information,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Rudd government would not consider putting in money until Infrastructure Australia was satisfied the project had economic benefits.
”The proposed east-west link is a potentially worthy project but it’s still in the early stages of development,” Mr Albanese said.
”The fact is Infrastructure Australia is still working with Victorian officials to flesh out the details of their proposal.”
The Napthine government responded that ”millions of Victorians” already saw the need for the project.
”The fact that, after receiving our business case, Infrastructure Australia is seeking further information is encouraging,” a government spokeswoman said.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said there would never be a satisfactory business case for the east-west link.
More than 100 homes and business premises were in the pathway of the east-west link, the state government revealed on Tuesday.
It said all those whose property was compulsorily acquired would be compensated at fair market rates.
”Those affected will be assisted throughout the process with case managers from the Linking Melbourne Authority,” Roads Minister Terry Mulder said.
”They will be paid fair market value for their properties and any legal and associated expenses.”
Shadow treasurer Tim Pallas said the Napthine government had caused grief and uncertainty in the community.
”They started a consultation process yesterday that ended today with people being told that their properties are being acquired,” Mr Pallas said.
Fairfax Media revealed on Monday that an entire block of homes in Collingwood was in the path of a proposed new freeway on-ramp and was likely to be acquired. Residents received letters from the Linking Melbourne Authority that day.
In total, 92 homes and 26 business premises could be acquired to make way for the first stage of the east-west link road between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink. Royal Park parkland will also be claimed.
Adam Carey, The Age, July 17, 2013