STUART GRIMLEY MP

Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

West Gate Tunnel Project Second Reading Speech

GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (22:34:20): I would like to speak briefly to the state government’s West Gate Tunnel (Truck Bans and Traffic Management ) Bill 2019, and it will be brief. If the bill passes, it will give the final green light to the $6.7 billion project. Understandably, there are a handful of concerns that Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party have about the project. There is no doubt about the need for additional infrastructure in Melbourne’s western suburbs, but all projects should be carefully assessed. Congestion in Melbourne’s west is costly to drivers. Mums and dads should be able to get into the CBD safely and quickly so they can spend more time with their families, and having driven that road many, many times I can totally understand that. A $6.7 billion project deserves the greatest degree of scrutiny. I am still unsure as to whether taxpayers are getting the best possible deal.

In addition to the huge cost of the project, I share the views of many crossbenchers and coalition members about the confidential parts of the contract between the state government and Transurban, including the scheduling of payments and the potential need to compensate Transurban if the contract is broken. Unfortunately the public is unaware of much of the contract. It is my understanding that VicRoads may provide the government with modelling on how a cashback scheme would work. If the state government adopted the same model which currently operates in New South Wales, drivers who use toll roads daily to get in and out of work would be compensated. I strongly support the implementation of a similar scheme in Victoria. Whist our party is still considering our voting position on this bill, it is the needs of everyday drivers that will determine how we vote. Toll hikes of 4.25 per cent each year over 10 years would leave families up to $30 a week worse off over the next 10 years, and it just does not stack up. We share the community’s desire for greater transparency and would rather see the revenue collected from tolls put back into our roads and infrastructure, supporting Victorians rather than supporting multinational companies.

STUART GRIMLEY MP

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