Mr WELLS — This statement condemns the Andrews Labor government’s reckless and frankly terrifying lack of foresight in developing Labor’s major road project, the north-east link. We hear a lot of boasting from the Premier about his infrastructure plans, but planning is exactly what is missing when the Premier talks about infrastructure. Arup modelling comparing the east–west link and the north-east link in a recent report found the east–west link would cut inner-city congestion by 15 per cent. The north-east link will only cut inner-city congestion by 5.7 percent. The north-east link planned is not due to open until 2027. By that time Melbourne’s population will be over 6 million people. The north-east link locks in Melbourne’s already terrible congestion for another decade.
All this is purely so that Labor does not need to backflip on the horrendous decision to scrap the east–west link. It is just madness. The Liberal-Nationals back both projects but sensibly will build the east–west link first. We do not pretend that Melbourne’s stifling inner-city congestion can be fixed with a congestion tax and dedicated bike lanes. We do not pretend that the Eastern Freeway and the intersection at Hoddle Street can cope with an extra 100 000 traffic movements a day from the north-east link without first building the east–west link. Like the emperor’s new clothes, behind all the flashy media and public relations there is no substance to the north-east link plans.