CityLink project on hold

Issue 

By Karl Miller MELBOURNE — The $1.7 billion CityLink project, a road privatisation scheme to connect several existing traffic-logged roads with electronic tollways, is on hold. Transurban won the contract some months ago. However, last week the ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac banks refused to confirm their backing for the project accusing the state government of introducing new measures which undermine the security of their $1.2 billion loan. Premier Kennett is prepared to guarantee compensation to Transurban if, in the next 34 years, traffic volume decreases. In other words, if a future government built a rail link to Tullamarine Airport, it would have to compensate Transurban for the lost road tolls. But the Liberals are not prepared to guarantee compensation for natural disasters or for legislative changes that might reduce traffic volumes. The banks claim that this is a change from the agreement reached in August. In retaliation, the government has announced that Transurban must secure finance by October 20 or lose the contract. Paul Mees, president of the Public Transport Users Association, said the government should take the opportunity to pull out of the CityLink deal and switch from freeways to public transport. "The banks have done us a favour", he concluded.

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