O'Brien fires back on Morwell Bypass comments

Victorian energy and resources ministers criticises Labor MP who called for the damaged Morwell Bypass to be opened without delay

By Ruza Zivkusic | May 31, 2011

Bickering over who is responsible for the opening of Princes Freeway in Morwell continues, as politicians argue over when the route should be reopened.

As debate over who is responsible for a leaking stormwater drain on the Morwell Bypass heads into the fourth month, residents are stuck with traffic gridlocks in the state’s small town.

Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien has fired back at Opposition leader Daniel Andrews to "discipline" Labor MP Matt Viney after he supported a call for the highway to be "reopened without further delay".

"Reopening the Morwell bypass immediately, as advocated by the Opposition, against the advice of Victoria Police, against the advice of VicRoads and against the advice of the technical review board, is one of the most irresponsible and reckless things I have ever heard in this Parliament," O’Brien says.

"Regrettably, there are some who would jeopardise public safety for the purpose of securing a cheap political point."

A design study on the long-term remediation works for the freeway is underway, O’Brien adds.

A geotechnical review is also being conducted and a quantitative risk assessment has commenced. Electricity generator Hazelwood Power will undertake design and remediation work to assist with fixing the drain.

The Victorian Government will spend $2 million towards the repairs.

O’Brien says the date for when the route will be reopened will be governed by Victoria Police and VicRoads on the advice of experts.

"That is the only responsible cause of action," he says.

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