Victoria’s Greens joined forces with the Liberal National Coalition last Wednesday to block planning permission for the West Gate Tunnel project, potentially putting 400 Benalla based jobs in jeopardy.
However, workers on the project only downed tools for 24 hours before a new planning application was lodged.
Whether that is also blocked is down to the Greens and the Coalition, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has stated publicly the project will be completed one way or another.
That will be welcome news to local people in Benalla who turned on State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan in numbers once it became clear she supported her party in blocking planning permission on the project.
Social media was rife with accusations that she was putting the Coalition’s position ahead of her promises to local people.
This is something Ms Ryan strongly denies.
‘‘The key point I want to make is that work on the West Gate Tunnel has not stopped, despite the hysterics from the government,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘The Andrews Government always knew this was going to be the case because they have the power to bypass the Parliament and they have already indicated that they are willing to do so.
‘‘Whether or not this project goes ahead is entirely up to the government.
‘‘John Holland and CPB Constructions have said that the West Gate Tunnel is not the only reason behind their decision to build the plant in Benalla.
‘‘Labor MPs have been desperate to make the community believe that the concrete plant would come to a halt despite telling Melbourne that the tunnel is going ahead no matter what.’’
However, this is something that John Holland has not confirmed, and Labor says the firm is not even locked in to operate the facility at this point.
State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said MPs who voted to pull planning permission were not looking out for regional jobs.
‘‘Without the West Gate Tunnel project there will be no concrete pre-cast facility for Benalla,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘When 400 Benalla jobs are at stake, it is incumbent on... Members for Northern Victoria to speak in Parliament and explain their position to the people they represent.
‘‘Euroa MP Steph Ryan has already said she does not support the West Gate Tunnel Project.’’
At this stage the discussions around the West Gate Tunnel project and the proposed pre-cast concrete facility have devolved into political one-upmanship.
Local people will be eager to find out the resolution and if the 400 jobs are still going to be created.
However, it appears they are still up in the air.