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GLOBAL tunnel construction and legal experts have warned Premier Daniel Andrews against using Parliament to avoid paying the $1.1 billion East West compensation bill.
The high-powered group yesterday wrote to the Premier, warning Australia’s financial reputation could be trashed and Labor’s proposed Melbourne Metro rail tunnel jeopardised if laws were passed to dodge a payout.
Infrastructure law expert Arnold Dix, who heads the legal chapter of the International Tunnelling Association, has written to Mr Andrews pleading with him to rule it out.
“We write to implore your Government, as commanders of the Sovereign of the State of Victoria NOT to enact legislation to alter the rights and obligations between the State of Victoria and the companies it has lawfully contracted with.” The letter was sent yesterday with support from experts from Greece, Italy, the US, Sweden and Switzerland.
The group warned that enacting retrospective legislation to get out of the contract would lead to “extremely damaging and long term financial cost and international confidence consequences for Victoria and Australia”.
Mr Dix was the investigator for the coronial investigation into the Burnley Tunnel crash.
“Just talking about doing this has already made a lot of people nervous, so already there is a loss of confidence,” he said.
“Within probably 24 hours of that being mentioned I had telephone calls from other parts of the world asking me if it was just a political bluff or if it was serious, and that illustrates how serious it is, the world do actually consider these things.
“Where a government’s considering retrospective legislation, and (Mr Andrews) hasn’t ruled this out, and in fact he’s spoken actively about it, what it does is it changes the way the world thinks about that government or that country.”
Mr Dix said any company looking to finance or build the Metro rail tunnel would be watching.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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