Ratepayers face big bills in battle against East West Link

Herald Sun: Ratepayers face big bills in battle against East West Link. Christopher Gillett. 21 July 2014

East West Link protesters in Collingwood. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Some ratepayers will have to pay a share of up to $350,000 for their councils to fund a Supreme Court challenge against the East West Link.

As residents in the path of the major project are told they have less than three months to be removed from their houses, Yarra and Moreland City Councils have voted to fund a court case against the Napthine Government.

Moreland Mayor Lambros Tapinos defended the move.

He said he was pleased the council would be mounting the challenge, describing the $6-8 billion project as “flawed”.

“Moreland Council has a long-standing history of being in opposition to the tunnel,” he said.

“The biggest concern is how the money can be better spent, how it should be invested in public transport.”

An East West Link protest at the Melbourne Zoo.

The court action will seek to suspend the tender process until after the November state election.

Lawyers will argue the government did not follow due process.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy told the Herald Sun he was confident the government had adhered to the obligations under the Act.

He hit out at Moreland and Yarra, saying there were “a lot of odd-bods and crazies” elected to those councils and the cost could easily skyrocket.

“It’s a monumental amount of money, a monumental amount of ratepayers’ money they’re spending with no certain outcome,” Mr Guy said.

“They’re throwing it to the wind just for political gain.”

The City of Moonee Valley — which also opposes the project — will meet tomorrow to discuss whether it will join in the legal fight.

So far protest action over the East West Link has cost $5 million of taxpayers’ money and police resources.

Rally organisers have refused to shy away from their costly action.

Socialist Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly said: “The campaign’s strategy right now is to put every hurdle possible in front of the government while pressuring the Labor opposition to come out and say they will rip up the contracts if they are signed before the election.”

Contracts for stage one of the East West Link are due to be signed before November.

The project, which includes a 4.4km tunnel under Royal Park in Melbourne, is planned to be built by the end of 2019.


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