SWAN HILL could get eight new hospitals for the $750 million the Andrews Labor government will now spend disposing of toxic soil as part of the West Gate tunnel project.
Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the soil scandal has stalled the $7.6 billion tunnel project for almost a year – with the meter still ticking on cost blowouts in that project as well.
Mr Walsh said every time the Andrews Labor government gets it wrong; it is the taxpayer who gets slapped with the bill.
He said it started with the $1.3 billion lost when Daniel Andrews tore up the contracts for the East-West link despite pre-election promises it would not cost Victoria a cent.
Now with the current tunnel projects going nowhere, and not likely to resume before 2021, the dispute between Transurban and builders CPB Contractors and John Holland is still to be resolved.
“Once again this government, which is big on talk and short on success, has rolled over by agreeing to pay waste disposal costs,” Mr Walsh said.
“This is a windfall for Labor’s mates at Transurban that will be paid for by taxpayers,” he said.
“It will also be paid for by the local communities forced to accept Labor’s dumped toxic soil.”
Mr Walsh said soil removal is a hideously expensive challenge at any time; costing around $20 a tonne for just ordinary dirt to be moved.
But he said that goes off the charts for contaminated soil – it would be $200 a tonne and there are at least three million tonnes at West Gate alone, with more expected at the planned $16 billion North East link with contamination already confirmed around the Bulleen industrial area.
“Once again regional Victorians looking to their citycentric government are forced to struggle along with substandard facilities way past their use-by date so Daniel Andrews and his union buddies can feather their own nests,” Mr Walsh added.
“Swan Hill has battled on for more than a decade in a healthcare complex in desperate need of a rebuild – the staff there have worked harder and harder to offset the disinterest, the disdain, of the Andrews Labour government to the plight of people in regional Victoria,” he said.
“The most recent campaign for the new hospital is headed towards its fifth year, I have raised it with Parliament and all the relevant Ministers in the Andrews Labor government and it has all fallen on deaf ears.
“At this rate in another four years Swan Hill will still be begging for a new hospital; Melbourne still probably won’t have any of these massive projects finished and when they finally are, the good citizens of that city will be paying through the nose for the privilege of driving through these tunnels.
“If you want a lesson in how to waste money, the Andrews Labor government has written the book.”