Denis Napthine and his parliamentary team today refused to debate and defend the decision of the Liberal/National Government to spend $8 billion of taxpayer’s money on a five kilometre tunnel in Melbourne inner city.

Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Andrews, was prevented by the Speaker from suspending Question Time today in order to debate claims by the Liberal Member for Mordialloc, Lorraine Wreford, that building a tunnel in Clifton Hill will end traffic congestion across Melbourne.

“Rather than using the Parliament to answer the many questions surrounding the integrity of traffic modelling underpinning the $8 billion tunnel, the Liberals have chosen to censor debate,” Mr Andrews said.

“Denis Napthine repeatedly refused to answer whether he had seen or read the traffic modelling he relies on to justify the $8 billion tunnel.

“If Denis Napthine and his colleagues have nothing to hide, if they are convinced that $8 billion on a five kilometre tunnel in Melbourne’s inner city is the best use of taxpayer’s money then he would have taken up the challenge put to him today.

“Allowing a debate would have allowed Ms Wreford to explain how an $8 billion tunnel in Clifton Hill helps her constituents who are stuck in gridlock on the Nepean Highway every day.

“It would have given the Government an opportunity to explain to motorists who use the Monash and West Gate freeways how an $8 billion tunnel in the inner city will do anything to alleviate the congestion they face daily.

“It’s clear that the Premier knows his tunnel is a dud and is going to any length to avoid scrutiny of a project that will not fix congestion and will prevent spending on other measures that would.”

Mr Andrews said today’s avoidance of scrutiny ended a parliamentary week where the Liberals in both houses thwarted all attempts to get answers on serious concerns raised by traffic and infrastructure experts.

“The Upper House sat until 2.30am on Wednesday morning while Labor MPs tried to amend legislation to ensure the business case for the project gets released.

“In the Lower House, Labor used Question Time to ask 15 questions about the project – all of which were met with derision by the Premier,” Mr Andrews said.

“No one voted for this Premier or this tunnel. No one knows how many cars will use it or how the cost benefit ratio was arrived at. No one can tell Victorian’s why their money should be spent on one of the most expensive roads ever to be built.”

Published on September 5, 2013