Andrew Daniels flops

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    The nonentity of Victorian politics, the Mr Nobody Andrew Daniels, faces another massive election promise flop!

    "Labor shelves legal bid to dump East West contract".

    Date: February 4, 2015 - 12:41AM

    The Age. Josh Gordon, Benjamin Preiss

    Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews Labor has indefinitely shelved a complex legal plan to render the East West Link contract "unenforceable" and will instead rely on a potentially expensive settlement deal with the consortium to extricate itself from the project.

    In the lead-up to last year's state election, Labor repeatedly claimed the contract to build the road was "not worth the paper it is written on" and could not be entered into safely.

    To make the case, the then opposition relied on advice from former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein and administrative law expert Richard Niall, QC. It concluded that if Supreme Court action against the project by Moreland and Yarra councils were successful, the contract would be "unenforceable".

    Labor's plan at the time was to support the councils' case if it won the election, rather than defend the project. Under those circumstances, Labor believed the councils' legal challenge would be likely to succeed.

    But since winning the election, Labor appears to have backed away from the bold plan. It is believed this followed advice from the Department of Treasury and Finance confirming the former government did in fact have inherent powers to enter into the contract.

    As revealed in The Age, Treasury also facilitated a separate "side letter", providing the consortium with an assurance it would get its compensation money even if a court were to declare any contract invalid.

    Labor now appears to have little choice but to negotiate with the consortium, amid speculation the taxpayer-funded compensation bill could be as high as $1.1 billion.
    Treasurer Tim Pallas did not address a series of questions from The Age, including whether it remained Labor's intention to rely on the councils' court action to render the contracts invalid by not fighting the case, and whether Labor stood by its original legal advice.

    Instead a spokeswoman said: "The government is currently working with the East West Connect consortium towards a fair and appropriate outcome for Victorian taxpayers."

    The councils' court case was scheduled to be heard about two weeks after the state election. But the looming battle was deferred after lawyers acting for the Andrews government asked for more time. A new hearing date has not been set.

    Moreland City Council chief executive Nerina Di Lorenzo said the council had a "standing resolution to proceed with the legal action". "That hasn't changed," she said.
    A Yarra City Council spokeswoman said the matter was currently adjourned. "We haven't heard from the state government at this stage," she said.

    Mr Andrews said Labor would honour its commitment not to proceed with the contract.

    "But as you know we're in the middle of important discussions with the winning bidders," he said "And we're just working through this with much more care to get Victorians out of this mess than the previous government took getting us all into it."

    Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said Mr Andrews needed to be up front with Victorians about whether he was lying when he told voters he believed the contract was not worth the paper it was written on. "Clearly Labor's decision to engage in negotiations shows what he said before the election and what he is doing after the election are two different things," Mr Guy said.
    Last edited by DickRussell: 04/02/15
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