Saturday, December 17, 2005

Steve Bracks: All Smiles On Scoresby Lie

The Bracks government, worried about the electoral effects of their Scoresby freeway tolls backflip, are spending $9 million of taxpayer funds on advertising in suburban newspapers to defend the decision [See Herald Sun: Toll-road ads blitz marginals].

Let us recap here:

1. In 1999 with most of the outer eastern suburbs seats still held by Liberals, Bracks government minister Peter Batchelor says "construction of the Scoresby Freeway will not be considered during the next four years". Toll funding isn't even considered, as the Bracks government was elected partially on anti-toll campaigning in relation to Citylink. If construction of a tolled Scoresby freeway had begun then, outer Eastern suburbs residents wouldn't still be sitting in traffic snarls on Springvale Road today.

2. In 2001 with a State election coming up and the prospect of winning seats in the outer eastern suburbs, Bracks suddenly finds the money for a Scoresby freeway, and commits himself to The Age, "No toll, no shadow toll…we might have some private-sector involvement in it but not with tolls . . . ". He reiterates this commitment in a direct mail election letter to households all over the outer Eastern suburbs, promising not to toll the Scoresby freeway - at the same time, his staff are writing memos making it clear they intend to do just that, toll the Scoresby freeway.

3. In 2003 with the State election behind him and costs on Fed Square, the Austin Hospital redevelopment, and the Eastern Freeway extension rising dramatically, Bracks reneges on his campaign promise and combines the Eastern Freeway extension project with the Scoresby freeway to make the Mitcham - Frankston tollway, tendering out the entire project to the consortium who expect to receive billions of dollars in tolls over the life of the project. At the same time, construction begins in the Northern suburbs on the $306 million toll-free Craigieburn bypass.

4. In 2004 the Bracks government pass up $500 million in Commonwealth government funding which depended on Eastlink being built toll free. Federal leader Mark Latham gives up hope of winning any seats in the outer eastern suburbs.

4. In 2005, with a state election now less than twelve months away, suddenly Steve Bracks discovers his affinity with the people of the outer eastern suburbs again. The State government spends $9 million on advertising in local papers to help residents forget it's broken promise and Bracks himself turns up to get a photo taken of him smiling with construction workers.

[See Technorati: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;]


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