The Making and Unmaking of East-West Link

James C Murphy
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The Making and Unmaking of East-West Link

Published

5 July 2022

ISBN

9780522878363

Pages

240

Weight

362g

Size

234mm x 154mm

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

The Making and Unmaking of East-West Link

James C Murphy
The definitive account of a hotly debated political project in Melbourne.
Melbourne's aborted East-West Link - the massive, multi-billion-dollar inner-city toll road project that promised to knit Melbourne closer together-was divisive from the start. Intense picketing and protests, multiple court challenges, breathless media coverage and bitter politicking consumed the Victorian parliament for years. The link brought the downfall of the single-term Baillieu-Napthine Liberal government; its cancellation cost the state half a billion dollars, and it lives on in infamy - a byword for brinkmanship, waste and politicisation of infrastructure. But where did this notorious megaproject come from, and what explains its fate? Was it a project hand-picked by state premiers who miscalculated its electoral value? Was it foisted on the government by cunning roads bureaucrats, unprepared for the public backlash? Or was it simply that opponents of the project succeeded by turning it into an election issue? James C Murphy explores the saga from competing vantage points, detailing the layers of politics that saturate infrastructure policymaking in Australia.
Melbourne's aborted East-West Link - the massive, multi-billion-dollar inner-city toll road project that promised to knit Melbourne closer together-was divisive from the start. Intense picketing and protests, multiple court challenges, breathless media coverage and bitter politicking consumed the Victorian parliament for years. The link brought the downfall of the single-term Baillieu-Napthine Liberal government; its cancellation cost the state half a billion dollars, and it lives on in infamy - a byword for brinkmanship, waste and politicisation of infrastructure. But where did this notorious megaproject come from, and what explains its fate? Was it a project hand-picked by state premiers who miscalculated its electoral value? Was it foisted on the government by cunning roads bureaucrats, unprepared for the public backlash? Or was it simply that opponents of the project succeeded by turning it into an election issue? James C Murphy explores the saga from competing vantage points, detailing the layers of politics that saturate infrastructure policymaking in Australia.

In the political showdown over East–West Link, two visions of Melbourne’s future collided. In this absorbing study, based on previously untapped archival sources and interviews with the leading players, James Murphy brilliantly relates the rise and dramatic fall of the city’s most ambitious highway project. With a forensic eye, he dissects the roles played by political leaders, technocrats and grassroots activists. A story of clashing ideologies, rival ambitions and political brinkmanship, it shows in compelling detail how the politics of infrastructure now shapes the fate of governments and the future of our cities.”
Graeme Davison

Not often do we peek under the bonnet and study the machinery of government while it is ticking over. It is not always pretty. This research explains how Melbourne’s biggest infrastructure project came unstuck and provides lessons for anyone with a vision for the future.”
Jon Faine

James C Murphy

James C Murphy

James C Murphy lectures in politics and public policy at the University of Melbourne. His writing on Australian politics and history has appeared in The Canberra Times, The Conversation, and regularly in Inside Story.

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Paperback
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Other formats available