The bypass around Frankston will be toll free and will cost taxpayers $750 million. It will go ahead as a public-private partnership even if the Commonwealth Government gives not a cent towards its funding. To Premier John Brumby it is another instance of Kevin Rudd’s ‘nation-building’. Quote: ‘..quite frankly, the economy and the construction industry (need it)’. The private firm operating the road will be paid a fee not from users but from the state government under an ‘availability charging’ regime. The state and the firm share construction costs and the firm is then paid a quarterly fee if the road is kept in good condition with all lanes operating. Macquarie Bank is interested – why wouldn’t it be?
It is difficult to imagine more foolish and irresponsible policy.
Why would you want a major radial road on the outskirts of Melbourne feeding still more traffic into the already congested Melbourne region? The road will of course encourage people to live on the Mornington Peninsula and then to commute to Melbourne.
The contribution to congestion will be worsened by not charging road users either the congestion costs attributable to the road or any of the capital costs of building it. These costs will be borne for the most part by others.
An excellent article in The Age today by Clay Lucas (not yet online) assesses the arguments. It would be much better spending this money on public transport on the peninsula where a stretched bus service does good business and trains could be reinstated to Mornington.
The suggestion that this is a public private partnership operating on a commercial basis is ludicrous – the road is un-tolled. What is being provided is a long-term service contract to private firms who bear none of the risks of the project.
Finally, the global financial crisis should not become an excuse for implementing any flea-brained project. The verbiage of Kevin Rudd (and now John Brumby) should be rejected for the nonsense it is.