Government attacks Labor leader Daniel Andrews’ pledge to dump East West Link

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The Age: Government attacks Labor leader Daniel Andrews’ pledge to dump East West Link, September 11, 2014 Steve Lillebuen

Pledge to dump East West contract ‘irresponsible’

What would happen if Labor wins the November state election and throws out the East West Link project contract? Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien responds.

The Napthine government has fired back at Daniel Andrews’ election pledge to dump the East West Link, calling it the most reckless decision an opposition leader has ever made.

As revealed in The Age, Labor will rely on a court battle in December to ensure contracts for the project are invalid, allowing it to not proceed with the project if it forms government.

But Treasurer Michael O’Brien said Labor’s decision sends a bad message to the business community.

Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

“This Labor threat to rip up contracts is the most reckless and irresponsible statement any opposition leader has ever made,” he told radio station 3AW on Thursday.

“Ripping up the contracts will cost the state billions of dollars, send the state’s budget from surplus into deficit, and also send a message that Victoria is closed for business if Daniel Andrews and Labor are ever elected.”

Labor insists it will not rip up contracts, which are expected to be signed in the coming days, and instead rely on the contracts being “unenforceable” if the legal challenge being led by Moreland and Yarra councils is successful.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the plan was a legal minefield, but Labor is convinced it is on solid footing after seeking legal advice from three highly-respected law experts.

The multi-billion-dollar East West Link project, which would connect the Eastern Freeway with CityLink, has been dogged by protests and angry inner-city residents for months.

Earlier this week, the vocal group targeted the offices of Labor MPs and construction giant Lend Lease, which is the preferred bidder for the first leg of the project.

Protest organiser Anthony Main said Labor’s election pledge to scrap the East West Link was a positive development, but it wouldn’t stop the community from protesting until it was certain the freeway would not be built.

“It’s still not ruled out,” he said. “We are going to continue to keep the heat on. We’re not going to be giving up on our campaign.”

The RACV has been contacted for comment.

steve.lillebuen@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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