East West Link statement a mountain of PR spin

CIS stands for ‘Clouded In Secrecy’, says PTUA

The Napthine Government’s Comprehensive Impacts Statement (CIS) on the East West tollroad proposal is ‘Comprehensive In Spin’ (CIS) but crucial facts remain ‘Clouded In Secrecy’ (CIS), the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) said today.

“The Napthine Government has just dumped hundreds of pages of modelling and PR spin that claims the project will be good for Victoria, but the massive volume of information distracts from what they’re still not telling us,” said PTUA President Dr Tony Morton.

Dr Morton blasted the statement’s traffic projections, in particular the claim that inner-north arterial road traffic would drop by 30%. “This is the same bait-and-switch trick the road lobby used for EastLink,” he said. “In that case, the modellers claimed traffic on Stud Road and Springvale Road would drop dramatically, and the politicians jumped on these claims to sell the road, and even suggest that car lanes could be converted to bus lanes. Of course, nothing of the kind has occurred – the one bus lane that went in only lasted a year before it was turned back into a car lane.”

“Just as far-fetched is the suggestion that without the new road, Alexandra Parade traffic will go up by 10 per cent,” Dr Morton said. “That would defy the existing trend, where inner-suburban arterial road traffic is in long-term decline. In Alexandra Parade, it’s actually fallen by 10 per cent over the past decade.”

Dr Morton said many other fundamental questions remained unanswered, including:

  • How much will users pay in tolls?
  • How much will Victorian taxpayers give each year to the tollroad builder, and for how long, given that even exorbitant tolls won’t cover the project costs?
  • What alternative road and public transport projects will Victorians miss out on given the project’s huge opportunity cost?
  • How many trucks will be added to Eastern Freeway and inner-north traffic given the project’s supposed freight rationale?

“No amount of PR spin can change the fact that no tollroad builder in the world would touch this project if they only got toll revenue in return,” said Dr Morton. “This project is based on a massive taxpayer subsidy each year that will drain resources away from public transport, schools and hospitals. If the Premier believes in it so strongly, he should take it to an election.”