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Canberra withholds $540 million from Victorian road projects.



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

27 May 2005

CANBERRA WITHHOLDS $540 MILLION FROM VIC ROAD PROJECTS

More than half a billion dollars of funding for critical Victorian road infrastructure upgrades continues to be withheld by the Howard Government.

The signing of the AusLink Bilateral effectively ‘quarantines’ the disputed EastLink $540 million and allows the Victorian Government to move forward on road projects like the Geelong Bypass.

If the EastLink funding were released, the Victorian Government could also bring forward critical work on the Deer Park By-pass, the Calder Duplication and the Goulburn Valley Highway projects.

Today’s announcement by the Premier and the Prime Minister reveals that Victorian Opposition Leader Robert Doyle and Victorian Liberal Transport Spokesperson Terry Mulder have been misleading the public in relation to the Geelong By-pass issue.

Labor has not been holding up the Geelong By-pass project. All that was required was for the Bilateral to be signed, and it is good that the Howard Government has backed down from its outrageous plan to block all Victorian road funding as part of its campaign over EastLink tolls.

Mr Doyle and Mr Mulder should now apologise for misleading the Victorian community.

They should also join the Federal Liberal Member for Murray Dr Sharman Stone in pressuring the Howard Government for the reallocation of EastLink funding to other Victorian road projects.

The EastLink contracts are signed. Liberal Leader, Robert Doyle, has failed to produce a single shred of credible evidence to the Victorian community or corporate sector to support his 'buy back' position.

It is time for Peter Costello to stop trousering the $540 million in his bid to assist his struggling Victorian colleagues. It should be handed over to Victoria to be used on other Victorian transport infrastructure projects.

Ends Melbourne 27/05/2005 Contact: Cora Trevarthen 0418/770484