Community Campaign Against EWL Receives Award, Winding up of LMA & Cancellation of Contracts

Comm Against EWL Award



Community groups and all involved in the campaign against the East West Link toll road, now scrapped by the Andrews government, received a Community Service of the Year award by Yarra City Council at a ceremony at Yarra town hall on Australia Day. Harriet Mantell of Residents Against the Tunnel commented that  this was..... "a wonderful recognition of the hard work, commitment, creativeness and tenacity that everyone committed to the campaign and of the gratitude of the community" Julianne Bell of Protectors of Public Lands (PPL) also extended congratulations to all involved. Mention was made of various community groups of which FOB was part.
Good news also, was the announcement that the Linking Melbourne Authority would be disbanded as part of the wind up of the East West Link project. However, as noted by PPL, there are still a number of  outstanding items to be dealt with as part of the process. These include compensation payable to the E/W Link contractors for the government not proceeding with the contract, for which negotiations the government has hired  ex MCG Trust chairman John Wylie and Leon Zwier of  law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler. It is understood that some of the contractors are seeking compensation in the order of $1.2b while others are believed to be more likely to settle for a lesser figure. Either way, many see the "get out" clause in the contracts signed right on the eve of the election, as a ticking time bomb for the new government. It is notable however, that the Prime Minister has backed away from his previous insistence that federal funding only be used for east E/W Link.
Other issues include the heritage listing of Royal Park by Heritage Victoria but with numerous exemptions inserted by the former Planning Minister Matthew Guy, to accommodate construction of E/W Link. PP L and the Royal Park Protection group are intending to approach incoming Minister for Planning Richard Wynne (who is currently on leave due to ill health), to endeavour to have  those provisions in the listing, removed.
As noted previously, this was a campaign by the community to protect its heritage environment, and public parkland. This was against a government, hell bent on building a (non free) toll way at any cost, without a business case and without being willing to seek the approval of voters. In the event, the view of the public was made clear at the election. Hopefully, the the E/W Link debacle, will dissuade the road construction, finance lobby and future governments, from attempting to resurrect the similarly ill conceived North East Link.

Dennis O'Connell
Friends Of Banyule


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