City of Yarra: Councils urge Premier to delay acquisitions. 15 September 2014
Councils opposing the East West Link have written to Premier Denis Napthine urging him to delay the government’s plans to acquire private properties and sign contracts for the controversial road project until a court has ruled on the lawfulness of the proposal.
The joint Yarra and Moreland letter argues that the government should wait until early 2015 to issue acquisition notices to property owners, highlighting previous statements made by the Linking Melbourne Authority that indicated it did not need to acquire land for the project until August 2015.
Residents should not have to be put through the distress of receiving these notices now, in circumstances where the future of the project is uncertain and will remain so until after the hearing of the matter in December.
Yarra and Moreland Councils are representing their communities at a Supreme Court hearing in December to challenge the Minister for Planning’s decision to approve the East West Link.
Any contract signed before the election will be made invalid if the Councils succeed and the court overturns the Minister’s decision.
The Councils contend that a fundamental component of the assessment regime under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act is the transparent assessment of costs and benefits of the project to ensure that Victorians receive the best value for money.
The assessment committee appointed by the Minister for Planning stated in its report that it was ‘not in a position to undertake an economic assessment of the Project…’ because no economic evidence was provided to it.
The Minister for Planning has stated that he did ‘not rely on a business case’ in making his decision.
The Minister continues to refuse to disclose whether or not he considered economic evidence justifying the proposal. It remains unclear whether or not the Minister has even considered the Government’s secret business case.
If the Councils claims are upheld by the Supreme Court there will be no approval authorising the project or any step taken to deliver the project unless a fresh approval is granted or new legislation passed.
Contracts should not be signed until after the outcome of the court case so that citizens are not exposed to potential claims from contractors if the project cannot proceed.
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