MAJOR TRANSPORT PROJECTS FACILITATION AMENDMENT (EAST WEST LINK AND OTHER PROJECTS) BILL 2013
I rise to make a contribution in relation to the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Amendment (East West Link and Other Projects) Bill 2013, following my colleague the member for Narre Warren North, whose passionate presentation earlier set the backdrop for the view that the opposition has taken of this bill.
This bill underpins what is a great folly by this government — that is, the massive political and financial investment that it is making in the east-west tunnel. This is one of the biggest infrastructure projects that the state has undertaken, and it is essentially underpinned by the state itself. This is not a public-private partnership as we would ordinarily understand it to be, such as those that have been procured by both Labor and Liberal governments.
This is an entirely different proposition where essentially the state underpins pretty much all the risk and certainly all the vulnerabilities around traffic movements, construction, time delays and so forth. That is a very serious thing. We find ourselves in a situation in which the state will be carrying this burden and this liability on the books, and all taxpayers will have to support it for an extended period of time that is unknown to us until, presumably, such time as this project is sold back into the market.
It is also serious because this government went to the last election and did not have this proposal as part of its policy. This was not part of its policy, and it has no mandate to take such a huge project forward without the people having the opportunity to express their views about it. This is an $8 billion commitment, underpinned by all of us, made by a Premier who has never been elected as Premier by the people; it is a project that has no mandate. The government will rush this project through.
The bill underpins this particularly mad, desperate rush by the government to look busy and, in some pathetic way, to at least try to hang on to something so that the ministers and the Premier can go out there with their hard hats and safety jackets on, to get media attention, television coverage and a few photographs, while they try to look busy on this magnificent, congestion-busting project that is going to be the saviour of not only the inner city but also Gippsland, Geelong, the south-eastern suburbs —
Mr Nardella — Mildura!
Mr WYNNE — and Mildura. It is the panacea for traffic movement across this state! This project, as we know, is a crock and a dud, and it will be seen to be a dud and exposed as such. Not only does it affect my community in the inner city; it affects the broader Victorian community, because what can we do with $8 billion?
We can do an enormous amount to enhance the entire state, whether that is around public transport, roads, hospitals or education. In all those core issues that affect our quality of life, $8 billion goes a very long way to address the serious concerns held by every community right across the state. We only have to look to the report tabled yesterday by the Auditor-General, which clearly indicates the extraordinary challenges being confronted by this state in terms of how we deal with the infrastructure needs of our communities, and our growth areas in particular, going forward. If we wrap up all our funds in this one project, we will have no discretionary funds available to address the fundamental concerns our communities have going forward. That is one of the reasons why we oppose this tunnel and why we oppose this bill. We oppose this bill because it also seeks — —
Mr WYNNE — We are particularly concerned about a number of aspects in the bill and the headlong rush by this government to shut down the voice of the community, to shut down community dissent and to shut down local government. In particular I refer to new section 258A, which very bluntly says approval of councils is not required. Approval of councils for fundamental parts of this project, which would be the normal toing and froing of referrals to relevant authorities and indeed local government under this section of the act, is in fact no longer required.
There is a backdrop to this, because we are very clear that this government wants to shut down community dissent.
It seeks to vilify my council, the City of Yarra, and I proudly say congratulations to Cr Jackie Fristacky, who has done a magnificent job in leading this campaign on behalf of our community, and congratulations to the City of Yarra. People who were on the front steps of Parliament House on Tuesday, decent people, said, ‘No, there is a better way’. There is a better way to spend hard-earnt taxpayers dollars — $8 billion worth of taxpayers funds — than to throw it away on this tunnel that will not do the job.
This is not a congestion buster. We know that near enough to 80 per cent of the traffic coming off the
Eastern Freeway does not want to cross the city. It wants to go south into the city or further south, or indeed north. Maybe 20 per cent of the traffic wants to cross the city, but even that is questionable because VicRoads traffic figures from 2002 to 2012 on all those key intersections up Alexandra Parade — basically the whole proposed crossing of the city — went down over that period of 10 years. On every one of those VicRoads figures, the figures are going down. The fundamental projections that the government has — that there will be 100 000 vehicles going through there and that it will be a magnificent project for Melbourne — are based on shonky figures. These are VicRoads figures, and there are not 100 000 vehicles going through. We would simply submit that this project is fundamentally flawed.
For my community this is a huge issue.
I am not prepared to stand by, the member for Melbourne, who will speak shortly, is not prepared to stand by, the member for Brunswick is not prepared to stand by and the state opposition is not prepared to stand by and see $8 billion lost in this ridiculous headlong folly by this government into a project which is a look-busy project to try to garner some credibility after two and a half years of lethargy and just fiddling around. We are not prepared to stand by, and I am not prepared to stand by and see my community torn apart. The member for Melbourne is not prepared to see Royal Park torn apart by this government. I am not prepared to stand by and see good folk in Collingwood who have lived there for decades have their houses simply ripped out from underneath them — 92 houses destroyed, and businesses as well. We will not stand by. Along with those in the city of Yarra and others who the government has tried to close down, we will not stand by. The government has no mandate for this; it needs to take it to the election. We oppose this legislation.