East West Link: 88 homeowners offered voluntary buyouts for properties

ABC Victoria: East West Link: 88 homeowners offered voluntary buyouts for properties. By Jessica Longbottom and Alison Savage

Nadege Morel and Davis Michaud are among the 88 home owners who live near the East West Link offered a voluntary acquisition. (ABC News)

More people could come forward for compensation after the Victorian Government announced it would give dozens more homeowners near the proposed East West Link the option to be bought out, the Opposition says.

The owners of 88 more properties in the inner-north suburbs of Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Parkville were recently offered voluntary acquisitions.

It comes on top of 92 residential and 20 commercial properties already earmarked for compulsory acquisition.

Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the constant uncertainty set a bad precedent for future infrastructure projects.

“It goes to the rushed nature of the project and the fact we don’t know where it starts and finishes,” he said.

“The lack of certainty is appalling. It’s people’s lives that are being held in the balance.”

The latest acquisitions mark the fourth round of property acquisitions since the project was announced.

Homeowners seek legal advice on property acquisitions

Parkville resident Christine Di Muccio had lobbied for the Government to buy her home since the project was announced.

She said the Government had caved in to public pressure.

“It brings some relief,” Ms Di Muccio said.

“But there’s no offer on the table. My family and I won’t be making any drastic desperate decisions, we’ll get independent legal advice.”

Ms Di Muccio said the Government should have compulsorily acquired properties like hers from the outset.

“It would have prevented a lot of heartache,” she said.

For her neighbours Davis Michaud, 82, and Nadege Morel, 83, the decision brought confusion.

They have lived in their Parkville home for 53 years and have had little contact with the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA) since the East West Link was announced.

On Tuesday night they received a phone call from the LMA telling them they had the option to sell.

“It makes us a little bit insecure,” Mr Michaud said.

“Now we have to make a decision to stay or to go. To accept their offer – whatever they offer.

“But in the meantime we have to sit on it for a while.”

$500m set aside for acquisition on tunnel’s first phase

The decision was the result of a special direction by Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

The voluntary acquisitions include 55 properties at the eastern end and 33 at the western end.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said there would be ongoing consultation with affected property owners.

“We’re going to be visiting those properties saying, ‘if you would like to sell that property at a fair and reasonable price to the Linking Melbourne Authority, we will purchase that property and assist you in your relocation’,” he said.

The Government has set aside $500 million to pay for voluntary and compulsory acquisitions for stage one of the road.

Before yesterday’s announcement, the Government had only acquired three properties voluntarily.

Among them, was the Evo apartment block in Parkville, in which more than 100 owners received compensation.

East West Link to be 90 per cent Australian made

The Victorian Government said more than 90 per cent of the materials used to build the East West Link will be Australian made.

The consortium building the tunnel, East West Connect, has agreed to exceed the mandatory 80 per cent target for locally sourced materials.

Ninety-eight per cent of the steel used in the construction of the 4.4 kilometre tunnel will be be Australian made.

Dr Napthine said using locally sourced materials would create thousands of jobs and boost the economy.

“This is about boosting jobs, boosting the economy and boosting skills across Victoria,” he said.

He said he was not concerned about adding extra cost to the project by using more Australian made products.

“What we are concerned about is getting the best outcome for Victoria,” he said.

“It’s a great project, but also getting value down the line through the supply chain and employment across the state.”

Michael Kalinowski from East West Connect said he did not believe using locally sourced steel would add to the cost.

“It’s not just about getting the steel into the country, it’s about the quality of the steel,” he said.

“There are advantages to using local steel.”

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the Government cannot be trusted to deliver on its local content promise.

He said the Webb Dock redevelopment used mostly imported steel.

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