The West

The State Opposition today accused the Barnett Government of hiding a $200 million-plus cost blowout in the Perth City Link project to link central Perth and Northbridge.

It has been revealed in Parliamentary estimates hearings that the total cost of City Link is expected to be $737 million, up from a mooted $500 million cost in 2009, in the wake of changes to the development and the taxpayer having to pay $73 million for a public square.

Budget papers have listed $609 million in costs for sinking the railway line and building an underground bus station, but another $128 million has been put into the budget for the East Perth Redevelopment Authority (EPRA) to prepare land for sale to developers and build City Square.

The State Government had originally hoped that private developers would build City Square but it decided in the lead-up to the 2011/12 Budget last month that the EPRA would bankroll the project and complete it two years earlier than previously planned.

Opposition Leader Eric Ripper said the full cost of City Link, formerly called Northbridge Link, had not been properly explained to the WA public because the State Government had focused on the public transport costs and not the total bill.

“They can’t be excused for mentioning only part of the cost,” MR Ripper said. “The government should be providing the total cost of the project – they have been keen for photo opportunities for the Premier, not so keen on showing the total cost.”

Planning Minister John Day said the EPRA would spend the money upfront developing the area and recoup it later from land sales revenue.

He said the government had given broad publicity to its decision to bankroll the City Square, finishing it the same time as the rail line and bus station. “As far as we are concerned, this reallocation is good news as it will accelerate the delivery of the City Square,” he said.

He said the public transport cost was first put into budget papers last year at $609 million and had not changed.

The West Australian

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