Vic govt rejects East West Link report

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AAP: Vic govt rejects East West Link report. November 11, 2014

The Victorian government is rejecting an independent analysis of its East West Link tollway which totals the cost to taxpayers at up to $17.8 billion.

Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien said the analysis was wrong, as it contained faulty modelling that mistakenly added billions to the project.

“Not just by a few dollars, they are out by billions upon billions of dollars,” Mr O’Brien told Fairfax Radio.

Citing one example, he said the modelling included interest payments on borrowings when the tollway would be funded out of the government’s surplus.

Mr O’Brien said East West Link stage one would cost $6.8 billion to build, with $3.3 billion of this to come from the private sector.

He agreed there were further undisclosed quarterly service payments for the tollway’s private operator for 25 years until it reverted to public ownership.

“The important reasons for us, why we’re not letting that figure out now, is that we’re rolling into negotiations for the second stage of East West Link, connecting up CityLink to the Western Ring Road,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We don’t want to compromise our negotiating position in that really important tender by allowing that information out.”

The analysis, by 10 transport planners and financial analysts from three Melbourne universities, was published by Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said the state government could not criticise the estimated cost of East West Link stage one when it refused to tell Victorians how much they would pay in total.

“If Michael O’Brien wants to contest these figures he can very simply release the contracts and tell Victorians the real cost,” he told reporters.

Mr Pakula did not answer when asked if Labor had spoken to the consortium contracted to build East West Link.

He said a Labor government would create Infrastructure Victoria, an independent body to recommend and plan Victoria’s infrastructure needs.

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