Herald Sun: East West Link funding to ease jobs pain. Phillip Hudson. Matt Johnton. 19 February 2014
PM Tony Abbott and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine meet to discuss the East West Link project. Picture: Sarah Matray Source: News Corp Australia
THE Abbott Government is considering federal funding to help build stage two of the East West Link as part of its jobs package for Victoria.
No decisions have been made by Cabinet but the contribution could be at least $1.5 billion.
Tony Abbott, who has already pledged $1.5 billion for stage one of the $14 billion project, described stage two as being “really important” for Melbourne and Geelong.
On a visit to Melbourne, the PM lauded the project and praised Premier Denis Napthine for accelerating preparatory work, saying the public wanted to see work start and not more feasibility studies.
The two leaders had their second face-to-face meeting within a week as Dr Napthine pushed for the Commonwealth to fast-track infrastructure money for the state.
Mr Abbott said he would be getting a report at the end of the month about how to help Victoria after Ford, Holden and Toyota said they would stop making cars and Alcoa said it would shut the Point Henry aluminium smelter.
On Wednesday it was revealed Telstra will sack Victorian staff in a nationwide cull of 800 from its Sensis business, which controls the white and yellow pages.
Two-thirds of the jobs are going to the Philippines.
On Wednesday night there were reports Shell was close to selling its Geelong refinery, but it was unclear what that means for its 450 workers.
A decision about East West stage two might have to wait until the May Budget, but Mr Abbott plans to announce some projects for Victoria in “early March”.
“We want to ensure that the people of Victoria can face the future with confidence,” Mr Abbott said.
The second stage of the toll road, to connect CityLink to the Western Ring Rd, would enable commuters and hauliers to bypass the city when travelling from east to west.
A contract for the first stage, connecting the Eastern Freeway to CityLink in Parkville, is due to be signed within months, with the Napthine Government hoping construction will begin later this year.
“The great thing about this particular project is that it’s really important for Melbourne and for Geelong, because just about everyone coming to Melbourne from Geelong is going to benefit from the full East West Link,” the PM said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday visited the Williamstown shipbuilding yard, where he called on the Abbott Government to bring forward plans to build ships to protect 1100 jobs.