Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council confirmed earlier this month that a contract for the $86 million Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) is expected to be awarded in August, with construction to start a month later, just as people commence voting for a new council.
The council has appointed Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to manage the assessment of tenders, award a contract and construction for this road proposed to be built through woodland and forest on the Queanbeyan Eastern Escarpment.
Greens MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Pushing through such a substantial contract just months before an election breaches the spirit of the caretaker regulations, and the local community rightly feels the council is acting in bad faith.
“Council is currently preparing a broader transport strategy, pushing for a decision on this contract before that is finalised is putting the cart before the horse.
“It would be extremely irresponsible for council to make such a costly and damaging decision less than 2 months before voting starts for a new council.
“The initial works have already caused the loss of critical woodland, and hollow-bearing trees, and that damage will only increase if the contract is awarded.
“Critical decisions like this, that will reshape this whole area, should be made by a democratically elected council, not an unelected administrator,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Peter Marshall said:
“It is 12 months since the NSW government appointed Administrator of the council approved the EDE, a project that has divided the community for years.
“Residents of the Palerang half of the new council area have had no say on this project but will contribute to depreciation and maintenance costs and share the financial risk if the road proceeds. This is unacceptable and undemocratic.
“An estimated $36 million of the total cost will come directly from local ratepayers in the form of a loan, and they deserve a direct say on it.
“The forced merger of Queanbeyan and Palerang councils has denied the community a voice on this issue. To press on now just weeks before people start voting for a new council is unacceptable.
“I am calling on the NSW Premier to intervene and suspend the project so that a new, elected council can decide what is in the best interests of the whole community.”
Media Contact David Shoebridge 0408 113 952, Peter Marshall 0428 597 227