Moreland Council votes to take legal action against East West Link

The Age: Moreland Council votes to take legal action against East West Link. July 18, 2014. Adam Carey, Clay Lucas

Artist’s illustration of the proposed East West Link.

Moreland Council has launched a strike against the Napthine government’s signature major project on Friday night, voting to take legal action against the East West Link.

The council also voted to lobby three other inner city councils that have opposed the road project – Melbourne, Yarra and Moonee Valley – to join them in their legal action.

The case will seek to overturn Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s decision on June 30 to allow the East West Link to go ahead.

Moreland deputy mayor Meghan Hopper said Mr Guy’s decision to approve the project “excluded relevant information such as the business case”. Photo: Teagan Glenane

Deputy mayor Meghan Hopper moved that the council was acting in the interests of Moreland residents who would be “directly impacted by this project”.

Cr Hopper said Mr Guy’s decision to approve the road project “excluded relevant information such as the business case”.

Cr Rob Thompson voted against the motion, arguing it would cost ratepayers up to $350,000 in legal fees, should the case fail.

Mayor Lambros Tapinos said a project that was so big needed to be supported “by the best possible evidence before it is approved by a minister. We do not believe that the government has made the case or followed proper process”.

“Moreland wants a judge to decide if the process was properly followed before the State of Victoria is contractually committed to a multi-billion dollar project that will change the city of Melbourne forever,” Cr Tapinos said.

“We say the government hasn’t presented a compelling case for the tunnel. If a judge agrees, it is still open to the Napthine government to do so.”

But a spokeswoman for the Roads Minister said Melbourne and Victoria desperately needed the new road, a proposed 18-kilometre tollway between the Eastern Freeway in Collingwood and the Western Ring Road in Sunshine West.

“It will connect our freeways, cut travel times and take through traffic off surface roads, reducing truck traffic and improving amenities for local communities,” she said.

She also said that the road “has been subject to a comprehensive and rigorous planning process”.

Moreland’s will be the second legal challenge to the road launched this year, with Brunswick resident Anthony Murphy and a team of senior lawyers already in the Supreme Court trying to halt the tender process for the project’s $6-8 billion first stage, arguing the state government has misled the public.

The government has not signed contracts for the $14-18 billion East West Link project.

It aims to do so for the project’s $6-8 billion first stage before November 4, when it will become a caretaker government in the lead-up to the November 29 state election.

Labor opposes the East West Link, but says it would honour any contracts signed before the election.

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