Posted on 02. Nov, 2012 in Speeches

I am pleased to rise to speak on the Road Management Amendment (Peninsula Link) Bill 2012. This is a pretty straightforward bill which provides for the ongoing management of Peninsula Link. The bill appoints Southern Way Pty Ltd as manager of Peninsula Link for the next 25 years. Southern Way will be responsible for operational matters, including management and maintenance.

I am sure that Peninsula Link will bring welcome relief from traffic congestion not only for people travelling to the Mornington Peninsula but also for those in the Frankston area. Indeed it will boost tourism and increase economic activity in the area. However, underlining its importance is the fact that Peninsula Link is not a project that could have been undertaken by just this government. Not only was Peninsula Link initiated under the previous Labor government but construction commenced under that government.

This government is asleep at the wheel. It lacks any vision or initiative and will continue to enjoy cutting ribbons accordingly, as it will do in this case. The Baillieu government is not capable of initiating projects. This is at considerable cost to the Victorian economy. But there is a further cost — a very serious one — to the assets of this state that current and future generations of Victorians should be able to rely upon, just as Victorians on the Mornington Peninsula will benefit from this important Labor initiative.

In part 2 of its report on the 2012–13 budget estimates the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) undertook an assessment of the depreciation of state assets in a section titled ‘Asset investment and depreciation’. At page 128 it defines depreciation in the following terms:

Depreciation is a cost figure appearing in the state’s financial statements. The amount of depreciation set aside each year is the amount of investment that would be required to keep the state’s assets in the same condition as they were in last year.

At page 129 PAEC makes the following comments about the current situation in Victoria. I think this is notable:

In 2014–15, depreciation is expected to be higher than net direct investment. As suggested by the interim report of the independent review of the state’s finances this means that the service capacity of the state’s assets is not being maintained —

It refers the reader to section 6.2 of the report. It continues:

The Victorian Auditor‑General has identified this as potentially concerning.

In addition, without an increase in asset investment beyond 2015–16, the level of asset investment would be likely to fall below the level of depreciation in future years.

To put this in simple terms, this government is presiding over — or should I say slumbering — a decline in real terms of state assets. This is a deeply concerning situation and shows how urgent it is that the Baillieu government awaken from its slumber to undertake the next generation of important public projects. What about the Doncaster and Rowville rail lines? As Peninsula Link shows, the level of commitment required from government is much more than that involved in simply announcing a study or the turning of the sod.

There are two other matters which I wish to briefly comment on concerning Peninsula Link. Firstly, as the Minister for Roads said in his second‑reading speech, this new freeway is 27 kilometres in length, running between EastLink and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Mount Martha. The other end of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway feeds into Springvale Road in my electorate. The government will need to be vigilant in ensuring that this does not impact on traffic congestion in the Springvale and Clayton areas. Secondly, this bill is obviously very important in terms of the commissioning of Peninsula Link, yet I cannot find any reference in the minister’s speech as to just when the commissioning will occur.

I do not know whether it was an oversight, but I would have thought the minister would have welcomed the opportunity to rebut the Herald Sun article of 12 September with the headline ‘Peninsula Link driven to delay over cost problems’. According to this article there could be delays in the opening. It states:

But Larissa Garvin, spokeswoman for roads minister Terry Mulder, said the government was sticking to its original time line of opening the road early next year.

Why the minister would not confirm his spokesperson’s statement in his speech I do not know, but on something as important as the commissioning date of Peninsula Link the government really should have been more open with Victorians.


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