Transcript - Doorstop Parliament House, Canberra

Release Date: 
1 December 2014

Topics: Victorian election, East West Link

ALAN TUDGE: Firstly I just want to congratulate Daniel Andrews on becoming Premier of Victoria. It's obviously a disappointing result for the Coalition and we'll learn the lessons from that result.

What Daniel Andrews will find when he gets his briefings from the Department today is that if he tears up the East-West Link contract, he will have a $1.1 billion compensation bill and he will lose the $3 billion of federal funding.

Now this is a project Victorians overwhelmingly want. It is a project we said that we would deliver. We went to the election with it. It's a project which we need to address congestion and we think it should be built.

JOURNALIST: In terms of this being a referendum on the East West Link – they were the words used by Tony Abbott – the voters have said no to that haven't they?

ALAN TUDGE: Well the voters overwhelmingly wanted the East West Link. All the polling indicated that two-thirds of Victorians thought that it was a good project. It's absolutely vital to connect from the east across to the west to end the Hoddle Street bottleneck, to clear some of the traffic off the major roads in the city. We've got $3 billion on the line to support that project and if Daniel Andrews tears up that contract there'll be a $1.1 billion compensation bill that he has to pay and that will plunge the state government budget back into the deficit.

JOURNALIST: So we've had yourself and Josh Frydenberg point to that poll, I think it was a Galaxy poll saying 60 per cent of voters support the project. Supporting the project is one thing, but voting for it is surely what matters. We hear over and over the only poll that matters is the one on election day.

ALAN TUDGE: And the federal election was in part on the East West Link as well and we were elected o that platform of delivering the East West Link. So we want to see it built. We don't want to see the state government budget go back into the red and if he tears up that contract it will.

JOURNALIST: So you're saying the federal election should overrule (inaudible)…

ALAN TUDGE: It is a project which Melburnians need. It is a project which Melburnians need that Victorians need. It will save 23 sets of traffic lights. It will create 7,000 jobs and we need those jobs in Victoria.

Daniel Andrews should complete the East West Link. We want to see it built, we have a commitment to see it built, we've got $3 billion on the line to see it built.

JOURNALIST: It's a pretty strong argument in terms of what Victoria needs, that first of all we haven't seen the full release of business plan for East West Link, what the benefits are going to be. Melbourne metro rail was something that Labor hasn't put in concrete yet because they don't have the money, they don't have the guarantee. That's needed as well isn't it? It's about priorities.

ALAN TUDGE: The Napthine Government also had priorities to deliver on rail. You can do both.

But the point about the metro, you won't see a shovel put in the ground in the next four years under Premier Andrews commitment to the metro - not in the next four years - so it's in the never-never. Whereas this project is ready to go. The contracts have been signed and if he tears up that contract it will be a $1.1 billion hit to the state government and that will plunge the budget back into the red.

JOURNALIST: You've just said that the $3 billion will be gone if the contracts are torn up. The Federal Government will be demanding that money back then?

ALAN TUDGE: Well Prime Minister Abbott has made it clear that the $3 billion was there to build the project that was contracted for and that was the East West Link.

JOURNALIST: So you wouldn't let it be used for anything else?

ALAN TUDGE: Well the commitment was clear. $3 billion was allocated towards the East West Link. We want to see it built.