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Come Clean Costello! Time to end the EastLink evasion.

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Media Release

Kelvin Thomson MP Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Roads; Housing and Urban Development Federal Member for Wills

17 June 2005


Come Clean Costello! Time to end the EastLink evasion.

The first test for the Howard Government’s AusLink legislation, which was passed with Labor support in the Senate yesterday, is whether Treasurer Peter Costello will come clean about his role in holding out on Victoria’s road funding.

The Treasurer must now release an email concerning the Howard Government’s AusLink funding for Victoria sought under freedom of information. His claim that its release would cause “damage to relations between the State and Commonwealth” and that it included “political party issues” is no excuse. What damages relations between Victoria and the Commonwealth is his sitting on money which belongs to Victoria.

On the one hand, the Howard/Costello Government has withheld $541 million of AusLink funding from Victoria on the basis of EastLink tolls, while on the other, they advocate tolls for road construction projects in New South Wales and Queensland.

Mr Costello’s continued failure to release this correspondence implicates him in what appears to be an increasingly futile attempt to politically prop up the Victorian Opposition.

Has the Victorian Opposition Leader, as he foreshadowed in The Age on 29 May, briefed Treasurer Costello on the cost of his buy-back plan for Eastlink and, if so, what will it cost?

This ongoing obfuscation and political interference in Federal road funding is now costing Victorians in terms of ongoing road safety problems, traffic congestion and stalled construction jobs.

The Treasurer needs to reveal why critical projects like the Deer Park By-pass, the full Calder duplication and the Goulburn Valley Highway remain stalled while there is more than half a billion dollars earmarked in the budget for Victoria but frozen for political reasons.

Until Mr Costello comes clean, he exposes AusLink as another politicised Howard Government funding program.

/Ends Melbourne 17/06/2005 Contact: Cora Trevarthen 0418/770484