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Victorian Labor Government flips and flops over Scoresby.



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Victorian Labor Government Flips and Flops over Scoresby

A81/2003 17th July 2003

The Victorian Government has come up with yet another cynical excuse for its decision to impose tolls on the Scoresby Freeway, the Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, said today.

Mr Anderson was responding to the state transport minister’s claim that the state had only broken its election promise and imposed tolls on the freeway because the Federal Government had refused to increase its funding commitment.

“The problem is that the Victorian Premier has already told the people of Victoria that he had to impose tolls to bail out the public transport system. This excuse went down like a lead balloon and now they’re trying another -- equally implausible -- excuse in a desperate attempt to cover up their mismanagement.

“Mr Batchelor’s new claim is, of course, blatantly wrong and Mr Batchelor knows it.

“The Federal Government has never moved away from our commitment under the Scoresby Agreement, which is to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of the Scoresby Freeway. In contrast, Victoria has blatantly broken its undertaking not to impose tolls.

“I have never received a request for additional funding for the Scoresby Freeway from Mr Batchelor. He has the hide to state that bureaucratic discussions constituted a request. Well, I don’t know how government works in Victoria but in the Federal Government decisions on funding are made by ministers and not bureaucrats. Besides, I am informed that not even the bureaucrats received a formal request for additional funds.

“Victoria’s political games have to stop. I call on Victoria to scrap the toll, honour its agreement with the Commonwealth and keep its promise to the people of the state.

“It’s not too late for Victoria to come back to the negotiating table. The Federal Government has not, and will not, break our promise to the people of Melbourne. Our money is already on the table, and we are prepared to negotiate in good faith with the state government despite its underhanded tactics so far,” Mr Anderson said.

The relevant sections of the agreement are attached.

Media Contact: Bill McKinley 02 6277 7680

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Ph: 02 6277 7680 Email: john.anderson.mp@aph.gov.au Fax: 02 6273 4126

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APPLICABLE SECTIONS OF SCORESBY AGREEMENT

2. Commonwealth

(a) In relation to the Freeway, the Commonwealth will provide financial assistance to Victoria to a maximum of 50% of the Government costs for its construction (excluding land acquisition costs to date). The manner of financing the Freeway, including the extent of private sector involvement, will be the subject of further consultation between the Commonwealth and Victoria.

(b) The Commonwealth’s offer for funding of the Freeway is conditional on Victoria agreeing to complete the construction of the Freeway between Ringwood and Frankston by 30 June 2008.

3. Victoria

(a) In relation to the Freeway, Victoria agrees to provide 50% of Government costs for the construction of a Freeway between Ringwood and Frankston (excluding land acquisition costs to date).

(b) Having regard to the Scoresby Transport Corridor Environment Effects Statement of June 1998, the Victorian Government will plan for and implement improvements to public transport services and infrastructure in the corridor. Victoria agrees that all public transport improvements associated with the Scoresby Transport corridor, and costs of land already acquired, are solely a Victorian funding responsibility.

(c) Victoria undertakes to complete the Freeway between Ringwood and Frankston in a manner that takes into account the Scoresby Transport Corridor Environment Effects Statement of June 1998, that meets all necessary Commonwealth and Victorian legislative environment requirements, and ensures on going consultation with stakeholders.

(d) Victoria undertakes to ensure that users of the Scoresby Freeway will not be required to pay a direct toll.