O’Herns Road interchange feud

Whittlesea Leader
15 September 2015
Katrina Hinschen



THE Federal Government says it will consider the O’Herns Rd interchange project when it receives a business case from the State Government.

The office of Deputy Prime Minister and federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has advised the Federal Government hasn’t pledged money towards the O’Herns Rd interchange project because the State Government hasn’t indicated its road project priorities.

Mr Truss’s comments come weeks after Thomastown state Labor MP Bronwyn Halfpenny told the Whittlesea Leader the business case would be ready by the end of the year. “The O’Herns Rd (interchange) is going to be a reality,” she said at the time.

“VicRoads said it was a requirement that they do the business case as the Federal Government won’t consider the project without it.”

The State Government has promised $40.7 million for the interchange, but the project cannot go ahead until the Federal Government provides $68 million.

A spokesman for Mr Truss, who did not want to be named, said the business case from the State Government was important.

“We have said time and time again that we will assess the project once we receive the relevant business case and that is exactly what we will do,” he said.

The spokesman said McEwen federal Labor MP Rob Mitchell and Scullin federal Labor MP Andrew Giles should lobby State Government colleagues to have the business case completed.

“Mr Mitchell and Mr Giles like to make a lot of claims but the fact remains that the former Labor federal government didn’t prioritise or put a dollar towards the construction of the O’Herns Rd Interchange,” he said.

“In fact, when the now Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was the Assistant Treasurer he received a funding request for the project from Whittlesea Council and simply ignored it.”

Mr Mitchell said it was unfortunate Mr Truss was “more focused on revising history and blaming the local member than using his position to actually affect change for the residents of McEwen”.

“Minister Truss should stop playing political blame games. Mr Abbott says he wants to be the infrastructure PM and Mr Truss is part of that Government,” Mr Mitchell said. “As the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, it’s time he did his job.”

Mr Giles said he and Mr Mitchell had lobbied state colleagues for the interchange.

“I understand they (State Government) will seek to secure the balance of funding from the Commonwealth Government under its Infrastructure Investment Program,” Mr Giles said. “Mr Truss should stop blaming the former Labor Government for their woes.”


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