Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been accused of “bullying” and “blatant politicking” by Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews in an ongoing dispute over the major East West Link road project.
The accusations were made in a letter from Mr Andrews to Mr Abbott after the PM warned the Premier not to walk away from the billion-dollar project.
The war of words precedes the prime minister’s planned visit to Melbourne on Thursday.
In the Prime Minister’s letter to Mr Andrews on Wednesday, Mr Abbott said he was concerned about the repercussions of failing to honour the contract which the government has pledged $3 billion to build.
“I am concerned that plans to legislate away the rights of the East West Link consortium will damage investor confidence and jeopardise further private sector investment in important nation building projects around the country,” he wrote.
In his response to Mr Abbott’s letter, the new Labor Premier warned Mr Abbott he could not change the Victorian election result.
“Be assured we will take more care getting Victorians out of the disastrous East West deal than the former Liberal state government took getting us into it,” Mr Andrews wrote.
“I look forward to working with you on important infrastructure projects, but no amount of hysteria or attempted bullying or blatant politicking will change the result of the 2014 Victorian election.”
The Victorian Government cancelled the controversial project shortly after winning office in November and is now locked in a legal dispute with the consortium hired to build the road.
It has maintained it has a mandate not to build the toll road but to instead move ahead with promised public transport projects such as the Melbourne Rail Link and the removal of level crossings.
Mr Andrews also referred to the fact the Prime Minister had described last year’s state election as a “referendum” on the East West Link.
“While I note you have broken significant election promises, including savage cuts to health and education and changes to the aged pension, my government will be one that honours its election commitments in full.”
— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) March 11, 2015
– with ABC