Vic Labor could revisit Link-style project

Seven News: Vic Labor could revisit Link-style project. Danny Rose and Angus Livingston. November 21, 2014

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews will scrap the coalition’s East West Link should Labor win the Victorian election.

But he’s not ruling out revisiting the idea in government.

Labor’s election platform includes creating an independent advisory body – Infrastructure Victoria – that would identify deficiencies and build cases for projects to address them.

If such a body recommended an East West Link-type connection across Melbourne’s northern suburbs a Labor government would consider it, Mr Andrews said on Friday.

“The difference is that you’d have a transparent process and the business case would be public, not the secrecy and the botched, rushed nature of this project,” he told AAP.

“No government can subcontract out their responsibility to make the really difficult decisions to an unelected body but if you were to say ‘no’ to the advice that Infrastructure Victoria put forward you’d have to have a public debate and you’d have to win the argument.”

Mr Andrews also said there were many more projects that delivered a higher public benefit for tax dollar outlay than East West Link and, if elected, these would be his priority.

Labor has pledged to remove 50 level crossings over two terms.

“I think the community is getting pretty sick and tired of last-minute con jobs where people are told `here are all of the things I’m building` and there is not one shovel of dirt been moved,” Mr Andrews said.

“I think we can do a lot better than that and that starts with a new body that changes the culture of the way we prioritise (major projects).”

The coalition points to Labor’s “appalling” record on major infrastructure including the bungled contracts for public transport card myki and the Wonthaggi desalination plant which has not provided water since 2012.

Premier Denis Napthine said East West Link was ready for construction, contracts were signed and traffic congestion was getting worse.

“If we don’t invest in key roads, like East West Link, then we will absolutely congest Melbourne, which will have a devastating effect on the quality of life of every Melburnian and will absolutely devastate our economy,” Dr Napthine told AAP.

“Tradies will be stuck in traffic instead of fixing your hot water service. Trucks will be stuck in traffic instead of moving goods around the state.

“That will just absolutely cripple our economy.”

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