The previously secret East West Link “side letter”, offering compensation even if the contract was deemed invalid, seems to underscore just how desperate the State Coalition was to build the road — despite it being a project that:
- is highly controversial
- is more expensive than just about anything previously built in Victoria
- has a Benefit Cost Ratio of well below 1.0
- had no mandate
- flies in the face of years of surveys showing people wanted public transport first
- and locking in taxpayers to PPP payments for decades
Below is an excerpt from the document, which perhaps surprisingly, was released by the Coalition themselves yesterday:
It’s a bit like a contractual version of Pauline Hanson’s assassination video: Fellow Victorians, if you are seeing this now, it means East West Link has been killed.
Obviously it was designed to ensure the project went ahead, even if the Coalition was voted out, and Labor tried to cancel it. A billion dollar booby trap.
I think this is far worse than simply signing a bad contract. It goes much further, by offering a kind of insurance against its later cancellation. (Remember, governments regularly cancel contracts).
This is veering into the territory of… how do I put this? It’s lacking respect for the electorate so much that you would force your decision onto them, even if they specifically voted against it. Remember, numerous people from Tony Abbott down declared the November 2014 election a referendum on the project.
This kind of letter says “We want this built. We don’t have a mandate for it, but we don’t care what you think. And if you vote us out, we’re going to try and force the other side to build it anyway.”