The Age: East West Link contract winners shout top public servants dinner at Vue de Monde. Adam Carey, Transport Reporter for The Age (October 8, 2014)
The consortium that was last week awarded the contract to deliver the East West Link has shown its appreciation by shouting a select group of public servants dinner at Melbourne’s most expensive restaurant.
The East West Connect consortium, led by development giant Lend Lease, celebrated winning the $5.3 billion contract by hosting a lavish dinner at top restaurant Vue de Monde. The dinner was attended by senior staff from the Linking Melbourne Authority, which has overseen the Napthine government’s flagship project since its inception in 2011.
“East West Connect hosted and paid for a project dinner last night which was attended by executives from all lead consortium members and LMA,” an authority spokeswoman told Fairfax Media.
It is understood the dinner was attended by Linking Melbourne Authority chief Ken Mathers and Lend Lease chief Dave Saxelby, among others.
The decision by government staff to dine at the consortium’s expense was lashed as “completely inappropriate” by the state opposition and by residents who stand to have their homes compulsorily acquired to make way for the road.
Opposition roads spokesman Luke Donnellan said Linking Melbourne Authority staff “should be at arm’s length” from the consortium, given there are billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money at stake on what is the most expensive road project in the state’s history.
“They should have known better,” he said.
On Friday, Lend Lease announced to its shareholders that it had “achieved financial close” on a $5.3 billion public-private partnership with the state government “to finance, design and construct stage one of the East West Link”. The road, which will connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink, will cost $6.8 billion overall.
Labor opposes the project and has promised to cancel contracts if elected in November, based on legal advice it has received that the contracts would be void if legal action taken by two inner-city councils seeking to block the project is successful.
Harriet Mantell, spokeswoman for community group Residents Against the Tunnel, said the dinner was out of order, given sectors of the community had endured months of uncertainty about whether their homes would be acquired.
“While they’re wining and dining and having a good time the rest of us are still struggling,” Ms Mantell said. “I just find it totally inappropriate, given the complete lack of regard the authority has shown for individuals and communities.”
But she also said that the celebrations were premature, given the project could yet stall should Moreland and Yarra councils’ judicial review in the Supreme Court prove successful.
“There’s nothing yet to celebrate because there is still the huge cloud that hangs over the project in terms of the councils’ court case that’s coming up in December,” she said.
Vue De Monde is one of three restaurants in Melbourne that scored the maximum three hats in the latest edition of The Age Good Food Guide. Situated high above the city at level 55 of the Rialto building, it has a degustation-only menu ranging from $200 to $250 per head, excluding wine.
The current menu includes experimental delicacies such as “salt cured wallaby”, “duck tongue, mountain pepper” and “BBQ lamb hearts”.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/east-west-link-contract-winners-shout-top-public-servants-dinner-at-vue-de-monde-20141008-10rscg.html#ixzz3ySfOLca5
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