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Thursday, 21 August 2003
Page: 19248

Mr PEARCE (4:36 PM) —I would like to take this opportunity to update the House on recent developments on the Scoresby Freeway project which, as you know Mr Speaker, is vital for my electorate of Aston, for all the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and, indeed, all of Victoria. The latest demonstration of the Bracks government's gross mismanagement of the Scoresby Freeway was reported in the Herald Sun on Tuesday this week. Once again the Bracks government has failed to meet its own deadlines when it comes to delivering on this important project. Only this year the Bracks government released an updated time line for the project, but it is already out of date. That is because the Bracks government has missed its July deadline for issuing the request for proposal documents. The problem stems from the failure of the Bracks government to secure more than two interconnected bidders for the project.

While transport minister Peter Batchelor claims to have attracted `strong private sector interests' for the project, the current situation in regard to the bidders tells a very different story. The article also referred to current speculation about the future of the whole project. This speculation relates to growing concerns about the potential need for additional taxpayer funds for the project and the possibility that tolls will be much higher than expected since Steve Bracks broke his election promise and betrayed the people of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Local residents in my electorate, and those who have followed this very important project, are no strangers to bad news from the Bracks government. Although construction is yet to start, costs have already blown out under the mismanagement of the Bracks government and now it seems that trend will continue.

The other issue that was raised this week was the Bracks government's breathtaking hypocrisy over the right of the local community to know the facts about the Scoresby Freeway project. This hypocrisy was demonstrated by the Bracks government's refusal of a freedom of information request by the Age newspaper. This request simply asked for details of the funding options considered for the project. It seems the Bracks government believes that local residents have no right to know the truth about their betrayal on the issue of the Scoresby corridor—a betrayal led by Premier Bracks and Minister Batchelor. I disagree and so does the RACV, Victoria's peak motoring body, among others. It seems likely to me that the Bracks government will not release the details because they will show that its attack on the people of the Scoresby corridor through the imposition of tolls was planned well before its announcement—its disgraceful backflip—in April this year. In fact, during the last election campaign Premier Bracks promised there would be no tolls on the Scoresby Freeway, and these developments are merely the latest addition to the Bracks government's appalling track record on this vital infrastructure project.

These developments once again prove that Labor cannot be trusted—and it cannot be trusted. Quite simply, together with my family and friends and the rest of my constituents in Aston, and indeed those in the eastern suburbs, we know that it is important not to listen to what Labor says but to actually look at what Labor does, because they are two very different things. It says one thing, but does an entirely different thing.

The strong and ongoing support against tolls, the campaign which together with my federal colleagues and state colleagues I have been leading in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, is clearly starting to have some real effect and impact on the Bracks Labor government. I guess that this is demonstrated by the community's strong commitment to continuing the local campaign for a better and a fairer deal on the Scoresby Freeway—a fairer deal for the people of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. They should not be punished, and Steve Bracks and Peter Batchelor have betrayed them. This is a campaign that I will continue fighting for.