The Labor Government has secretly broken a key election promise by removing the $75 million Darlington interchange from the Southern Expressway duplication contract tender.
The $445 million Southern Expressway project, including the $75 million interchange, was promised to southern suburbs residents just before the March 2010 election
The interchange was to provide an overpass and a slip lane to allow smooth vehicle movement between the Expressway and South Road without traffic lights. At the time, Premier Rann and Minister Conlon both said it made no sense to duplicate the expressway without providing for the interchange at Darlington and removing the traffic lights:
“The Southern Expressway presented a planning nightmare for those trying to design the Darlington interchange. Duplication of this Expressway was an inevitable project. Without this commitment we’d have more bottlenecks, rather than less.”
(Premier Rann, 17/02/2010)
However, key Transport Department executives told the Budget and Finance Committee today the key current contract tender for the project had scrapped the interchange and replaced it with traffic lights.
“This is a stunning broken promise from an increasingly arrogant Labor Government that believes it can get away with almost anything it wants to,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“Contrary to Minister Conlon’s claims today, Transport Chief Executive Rod Hook told the Committee last year the interchange project was not dependent on any Federal funding.
Hon Rob Lucas MLC: “Just clarify for me, is that yes or no? Can the Darlington interchange in the Southern Expressway proceed irrespective of any federal funding decisions for all these other Darlington project issues that you have just outlined?”
Mr Hook: “Yes, the answer is yes. The work that we are intending to do as part of the Southern Expressway can proceed.
(Budget and Finance Committee, 15/10/2010)
“Transport executives also told the Committee that Cabinet had not been informed of the major change to the project.
“Minister Conlon now needs to come clean and clearly indicate when he was told about this broken promise, and why he didn’t tell Cabinet and the public of the removal of the interchange from the contract tender.
“It is also clear there is a potential significant blowout in the $370 million cost of the duplication of the Expressway and that Minister Conlon is positioning himself to use some or all of the $75 million for the interchange to pay for the blowout.
“This Labor Government has an embarrassing track record when it comes to managing major projects. They clearly can’t be trusted to keep their promises and deliver projects on budget.
“The question is now whether L-Plate Premier Jay Weatherill will intervene to ensure Labor delivers on its Darlington interchange promise.”