The Age Letters – Most secretive contract state has ever known. 1 October 2014
The do-nothing Baillieu government of two years ago morphed in to the do-something, do-anything Napthine government wobbling on its last political legs today. On the basis that any huge infrastructure project is a plus for a government struggling in the polls, Napthine and co have rushed into the most secretive, unexplained, unexamined contract the state has ever seen. As voters and taxpayers we have no idea of the toll payment levels, no idea if the predicted user volumes are sound and no idea of the long-term effects on the state finances.
We do know that Collingwood and Clifton Hill will see major destruction and many homes wrecked. And that Royal Park and the Melbourne Zoo will come under attack. We also know the boost to public transport infrastructure from the same spending would have kept Melbourne liveable for 50 years. Worldwide experience shows this tollway tunnel might ease congestion for a piffling five years at most.
John McPherson, Collingwood
Living in undemocratic times
Every day it seems we hear about something else the Napthine government is keeping from the electorate: ambulance response times, crime statistics, data about assaults on people in state care, data about assaults on hospital staff, the number of closed public hospital beds, CFA response times, the list goes on. On Monday the Premier signed contracts for East West Link, with exit conditions that are also shrouded in secrecy. Healthy democracies ensure that the electorate is well informed, so that they can make good decisions. Yet this government is doing the opposite. As long as government keeps secret what it is doing, and how well, then we as voters are entitled to think the worst. And vote accordingly.
Damien Hurrell, Strathfieldsaye
A headline you won’t read
A headline regressive Victorians don’t want to read ”Great news: major infrastructure project gets the go-ahead”. How many of those objecting to the East West Link rely on a motor vehicle for their livelihoods? How many buy from shops stocked with goods brought in by truck? How many have stopped to think of the alternatives and the harm done to progress in our rather Victorian state? Give any of these inner-city dwellers a job that requires travel by road and see how their attitudes change. Wake up, Victoria. This is the 21st century, the horse and buggy have gone.
Selma Brown, Montmorency
Labor tries to have it both ways
The Coalition’s gutless failure to renegotiate contracts for the desalination plant bears comparison with the equally gutless reluctance of Dan Andrews to commit Labor to cancelling a rushed EWL contract (Comment, 29/9). At the 2006 election, Labor ridiculed the Coalition’s proposal to build a desal plant. Just four months later it announced plans to build one four times the size. As Kenneth Davidson notes, Daniel Andrews is ”reluctant to come out and say unequivocally that if it wins the election it will cancel the [EWL] contract”. This leaves Mr Andrews free to serenade the (green) voters of Parkville – by saying he won’t oppose court action by two local councils – while still allowing him to stay onside with his union mates, who are licking their chops at the prospect of repeating the feast they made of the desal plant. Comparison of the politics of the two projects invites two questions: What have we Victorians done to let two such worthless groups continue taking money from our pockets to advance their own political interests? And would you hire any of them to run a company in which you held shares?
George McGregor, Malvern