High price of secrecy: financial disaster

The Age: Letters – High price of secrecy: financial disaster, September 13, 2014

East-West link protestors march through Swanston St in June. Photo: Luis Ascui

Michael West – ”Secrecy is the real toll-road scandal” (BusinessDay, 12/9) – has nailed it. For more than 12 years, I have set post-graduate assignments in my project management classes, in which students have to study a major project and identify factors that led to success or failure. Optimistic forecasts of demand, such as the traffic estimates for the East West Link, political pressure and haste were recurring themes. However, the clincher was secrecy.

If a government refused to release the economic appraisal or even a cost benefit analysis, the project would almost certainly become a financial disaster (like the Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel in Sydney). The promoters and builders would make handsome profits and the financial burden would fall on the ”mum and dad” investors and/or on the public. Both Melbourne’s East West Link and Sydney’s Westconnex are following this pattern. On past performances, voters and investors have good reason to be suspicious.

George Rosier, Carlingford, NSW

Unfair and petty political payback

We are under no illusion that the Abbott government cares for what the electorate actually wants. However, to be fiscally punished should Victorians choose to vote against the East West Link shows they have no place on Team Australia.

Jane Laver, St Kilda

Postpone all major decisions

Governments at all levels have been guilty of rushing funding decisions through on the eve of an election, often to gain electoral advantage at the expense of proper process. In a strictly legal sense, any funding decision made up until the ”caretaker period” is allowed. However, from an ethical point of view, it is treating the democratic process with contempt. It is this behaviour that leads to the high level of cynicism towards politicians that exists in our community. The Victorian government should put the interests of voters above those of powerful corporate interests and postpone large and controversial decisions on the East West Link and Crown casino licence extension until after the election. Governments cannot claim a mandate if they do not seek one.

Peter Allan, West Brunswick

The outer-eastern voters have spoken

I wonder if premier-hopeful Daniel Andrews is a little limited in his thinking. Doesn’t he realise that the swath of outer eastern suburban seats that fell to the Liberal Party at the last election was, in itself, a referendum on the East West Link?

Barrie Dempster, Balwyn

We have a right to know all the facts

The big end of town may rail against the so called irresponsible opposition, but the government needs to be open about the benefits of the East West Link, especially who will benefit. ”Commercial in confidence” is a pathetic excuse. The taxpayers are paying for this road. The animation on the government’s website – cars travelling on the Link – is an insult to Victorians. Now the plan can go to the voters.

Amanda Scott, Clifton Hill

Public transport: the win-win solution

So now it is freight, not traffic congestion, that moves the government to push for the East West Link. There is a solution for both. Expand and improve public transport to give motorists other means of travel and thereby free up space on roads without ruining neighbourhoods and Royal Park.

Michael Petit, Brunswick

East West Link

So the ”silent majority” supports the link? Is this like the ”unseen business plan” and ”concocted research”?

Mark Minchinton, Footscray

Is there a list of road projects that motoring groups oppose?

Stephen Collins, Brunswick

Melbourne has been caught short with the lack of strategic planning for public transport hrough political neglect and complacency.

Scott Ramsay, Strathdale

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