Michael Pascoe writes:

Just when you think Premier Dilemma and the
Carr Crash Gang would need a $700,000 water cannon to blast their way any
deeper into the poo, the SMH‘s Anne Davies weighs in with a ripper front page lead claiming the gang asked the Lane Cove
tunnel operators to consider delaying the opening of the next transport PR
disaster until after the state election.

The company now wants to open the
new tunnel in December – five months ahead of schedule – but this raises the
prospect of road closures during the state election campaign in February and
March.

“When we told them we were
targeting a December opening, that sent them into a real tizzy,” one
source told the Herald. “After the Cross City Tunnel experience,
they have gone weak at the knees. They didn’t say they wanted a delay, but they
said it would be better if it opened on schedule.”

The Herald put the
allegations to the Government, which did not deny that it pushed for the later
opening. However, a spokesman for Mr Roozendaal said: “The opening date is
a decision for the company.”

But even while reading the story early this
morning, it was obvious that the allegation could be and would be quickly
denied, as it already has been in the SMH online:

Chief executive of the Lane Cove Tunnel Company Ian Hunt
has denied a report in the Herald today that the State Government asked the
company to open the tunnel after the March election. “There’s never been any discussion at all about the
timing of our opening in relation to the election,” he said. “Never,
ever.”

Minister Roozendaal also denied any discussion of the
tunnel’s impact on the election campaign.

On the other hand, Roozendaal is becoming
known as someone who is particularly single-minded about getting Labor
re-elected and will seize on any idea that might achieve that regardless of
other outcomes.

And the Lane Cove Tunnel Company CEO does
damage his own credibility later in the article:

Mr Hunt said the meeting last week with Minister
Roozendaal – his first with the new Roads Minister – involved only briefing him
on the progress of the Tunnel construction. He also said the idea that the tunnel’s opening would be
contentious was not correct. “I don’t anticipate that there will be protests and
action … I am a little concerned that our tunnel is being unfairly compared
with other projects.

It won’t be contentious to slash Epping Road to
one lane for general traffic in each direction as part of the now-usual
“funnelling” racket and introduce a particularly nasty toll for just using an
on-ramp? Someone tell Ian he’s dreaming – or was that during his Roozendaal
meeting?

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW