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Thursday, 21 February 2002
Page: 767


Mr PEARCE (5:42 PM) —I rise today to update the House on the Scoresby Freeway project. Mr Speaker, you and honourable members might recall that last year the Scoresby Freeway was one of the most important elements of the Aston by-election campaign and indeed of the recent general election in November. I am very pleased to inform honourable members that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services has now approved the first $45 million instalment of federal government funding for the Scoresby Freeway. Federal funds have now started to flow into the state of Victoria for the Scoresby Freeway project. The Scoresby Freeway goes through the heart of my electorate of Aston, by extending from Ringwood and down to the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston. I am delighted to inform the House that the federal government is standing by its commitment to provide funds for the freeway.

Unfortunately, having said that, I also have to inform the House that to date we still do not see any tangible example from Labor in Victoria to start the construction of this freeway. Honourable members might remember that during the by-election I proffered that I was the only candidate who was totally committed to seeing the Scoresby Freeway corridor built. Following the Deputy Prime Minister's announcement, I have let the people of Aston know that federal funds have started to flow. I noticed this week in an article in one of my local newspapers called the Knox Leader, a spokeswoman for Mr Batchelor, the Victorian Labor Minister for Transport, is quoted as saying:

The federal government has skewed the history of the project to suit themselves.

Let us look at the history of the project. If you go back to August 2000 in an article in the Age titled, `Labor in freeway U-turn', the transport reporter for the Age says:

The Bracks Government, in a major policy about-face, is expected today to confirm plans to build the contentious Scoresby Freeway in Melbourne's outer east.

In an article in the Age on Wednesday, 10 January 2001, Paul Mees, at that time the Public Transport Users Association spokesman, was quoted as saying:

“The problem with Peter Batchelor is that he came into office without an agenda and there's been no substantial change in transport policy since the Kennett regime,” he said.

The article also stated:

Labor has also been accused of a policy reversal over building the Scoresby Freeway.

But the best example of Labor's approach to the Scoresby Freeway is in a letter from Peter Batchelor, the Minister for Transport, to the Hon. Neil Lucas, an upper house member in Victoria, dated 17 November 1999. In the second paragraph of the letter it says:

I can advise that the government—

the Victorian government—

has made clear its decision with regard to the Scoresby Freeway. Construction of the Scoresby Freeway will not occur during the next four years because no provision has been made for it in any current or past government funding programs.

This is a major concern, because in the other local newspaper this week, the Knox Journal, a spokesperson for the state government is quoted as saying:

The state government said no money has been set aside for the Scoresby Freeway.

So you have a situation where the federal government has now budgeted and committed $445 million for the Scoresby Freeway and we have declared it a `road of national importance'. We have now signed off on the first instalment of $45 million and we are yet to see any action from Labor in Victoria towards the construction of the Scoresby Freeway. I call on the Victorian Labor government to immediately inform the people of Aston when the freeway will begin. (Time expired)