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Matters of Public Importance: Infrastructure
This is an extraordinary MPI today. To have the member for Grayndler, with his glass jaw, get up and give a personal explanation in the middle of an MPI just shows how outrageous this is. This government is making $50 billion of commitments in productivity enhancing infrastructure. We have initiated a $5 billion Asset Recycling Initiative, and that just shows that we are committed to building the infrastructure that our cities, our regions and our country need.
Today I wanted talk about a project that is going to be a millstone around the neck of the Labor Party in the Victoria, and that is the abandonment of the East West Link project—the single biggest infrastructure project in the country. We have seen the member for Grayndler, the opposition leader and all the members that sit over there in Victoria standing shoulder to shoulder with Daniel Andrews, who has spent up to $1 billion not to build the East West Link—even after the Premier of Victoria said that he would not spend one dollar to cancel the contract. We have seen up to $1 billion of hard-earned taxpayers dollars spent not to build a piece of infrastructure that Rod Eddington said in 2008 was the most crucial piece of infrastructure that Victoria needed. The Leader of the Opposition signed two submissions to that inquiry saying that it was important for jobs and for the Victorian economy. Has the opposition leader changed his mind? Yes, unfortunately. Finally, we got him to answer. Because for months and months he squirmed and wiggled and would not answer the question. Finally we nailed him, and he said, ‘No, I support Daniel Andrews cancelling the East West Link contract and spending up to $1 billion to do so.’ Just a couple of weeks ago, Infrastructure Australia released their report on the infrastructure needs for Victoria. It highlighted the two greatest areas that would have the biggest impact on the Victorian economy—$9 billion per year. The worst traffic congestion in Victoria was highlighted as being between CityLink and the Eastern Freeway and the Eastern Freeway itself—$9 billion of costs to the Victorian economy. The East West Link would have addressed those two bottlenecks the most. That is $9 billion of drag on the Victorian economy now, in addition to the $1 billion that was splashed up against the wall by the Labor Party, with the full support of the opposition leader and the full support of every Victorian member in this House today.
Our record is proud on infrastructure. We want to build the East West Link, and we have committed that $3 billion will remain there for any future Victorian government that will build it. And let’s be honest: it is going to be built. The East West Link will be built, and everybody will look at that $1 billion that was wasted as an absolute crying shame. Indeed, last week the Prime Minister announced another great project for Victoria. Putting aside our disappointment at the outrage of the East West Link, we are committing $150 million to complete the M80 ring road between Sunshine Avenue and the Calder.
It is absolutely outrageous that the state Labor Party would then come, cap in hand, after splashing $1 billion against the wall. But for the benefit of Victorians we will put that aside, because we will not punish Victorians for the reckless decisions of Labor. And the member for Grayndler supported the East West Link, alongside the opposition leader, until they had a conversion—a late conversion before the state election. Unfortunately you are all bound to support Dan Andrews, and I know in your heart of hearts you think it is an outrageous decision. You should put your constituents first, get up in this House and say, ‘We will not support someone creating the sovereign risk and ruining the liveability of our suburbs,’ because, I am sorry to say, Labor, not everybody lives within three kilometres of the CBD. I know that is all you are worried about, and you are trying to appease the Greens, and those who do not live within a three-kilometre radius of the CBD are forgotten. Well, I am sorry; my constituents need to use their cars. My constituents need to get on the Eastern Freeway, and that is why we are committing $3 billion. It will remain available for the East West Link, and it will remain a millstone around your necks until election day, because Victorians want the East West Link built. I can assure you that everyone in the outer eastern suburbs wants it built, and it will be built.
Click here to access a PDF copy of the Hansard transcript of this speech.
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