Question without Notice: western distributor

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My question is to the Premier. It is in regard to the western distributor toll road. The Premier has already said, 'This is an outstanding proposal'. He has already said, 'this project is exactly the sort of project Tony Abbott would want to partner with us on'. Is stage 3 of the market-led proposal guidelines a genuine assessment or just a rubber stamp?

Mr ANDREWS (Premier) — I am delighted to receive this question, and I thank the member for Prahran for it. This is an outstanding proposal put forward by Transurban. It has been assessed by officials of the Department of Treasury and Finance. It has been further assessed by a special panel put together to run, if you like, a parallel assessment of this very significant proposal — —

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr ANDREWS — It is one that is lost on those opposite, including the member for Warrandyte, it would seem.

It is appropriate under new market-led proposal guidelines — or rules, if you like — which we put forward some months ago and which were announced by the Treasurer that when you move from consideration of a project to commercial negotiations with its proponent, public statements are made. That was a lengthy media conference. Questions were asked, and they were answered frankly and honestly. This is an outstanding proposal, and now it will be for the government and its officials to deliver outstanding value for the people of Victoria. That, I can tell the member for Prahran, is exactly what we will do. We will not be taking lectures on negotiations from those opposite.

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr ANDREWS — Why don't you go and write a side letter?

The SPEAKER — Order! The Premier will speak through the Chair.

Mr ANDREWS — This is a $5 billion to $5.5 billion project — —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The opposition will allow the Premier to continue to respond.

Mr ANDREWS — It connectively links the West Gate Freeway with the Tullamarine Freeway. Not one house will need to be taken. It is the connectivity between those two very busy corridors that has seen Infrastructure Partnerships Australia describe this project — its words, not mine — as faster, cheaper and better than other proposals put forward by those opposite.

Over these coming weeks and months the member for Prahran and those opposite, who have a lot to say now but did so very little over four years — who did nothing over four years — —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Warrandyte and the Leader of the Opposition!

Mr ANDREWS — Over the weeks and months ahead the member for Prahran can be assured that what is a strong proposal will be given proper examination so as to deliver appropriate value — best value — for the people of Victoria. That is our approach. I stand by my characterisation of the project, and I refer the member to statements made by just about every stakeholder in infrastructure and in the west of Melbourne, who see this as an outstanding proposal, one that will be delivered, if it is delivered, with outstanding value.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — We know that trucks avoid toll roads and use local roads instead. Will truck bans be part of the new western distributor toll road project?

Mr ANDREWS (Premier) — I thank the member for Prahran for his question. This proposal, as put forward by Transurban, which will be rigorously evaluated further, and there will be proper commercial negotiations, is all about delivering much better amenity so that local roads in the inner west can be returned to local people.

I do not share the concern the member for Prahran has put forward. I do not share the conclusion he has drawn either. Time is money when it comes to the freight and logistics industry, and this proposal outlines better connectivity, improved safety and improved air quality, and fundamentally it returns to the inner west the streets and roads that ought to have always been theirs rather than major freight routes for B-doubles and trucks of that nature.