MEDIA RELEASE: WestConnex $6 billion cost blowout - Turnbull govt refuses review

Media Release

In the wake of the release of the updated WestConnex Business Case and the New M5 EIS the Greens have criticised the federal government for ruling out a review of the project that has now shown a multi-billion dollar blowout in total costs.

Newtown Greens MP Jenny Leong said “With the cost of the WestConnex blowing out from the initial $10 billion to $16.8 billion, this project should be urgently reviewed.

“Neither the WestConnex Business Case or the new M5 EIS adequately address the fundamental issue of public transport solutions but instead offer spurious benefit cost figures based on questionable financial benefits to the NSW economy.

“This is just Utopia-style spin and unfortunately the outcome for locals will be more congestion and polluted air.

“The NSW government has continued its dogged pursuit of the deeply flawed WestConnex toll road, and now the federal government is doing nothing to ensure the transport budget brings workable solutions.

“We were handed the long awaited updated Business Case the day after the NSW Parliament rose for the year and the New M5 EIS has only just been released – as councils, organisations and families break for the holiday season.

“This is a cynical approach to ‘consultation’ and a clear attempt to hide these documents from proper scrutiny.

Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon has been pursuing the waste of public money on the WestConnex in the federal parliament.

In response to Senator Rhiannon’s question on WestConnex in the Senate today Minister Richard Colbeck refused to back a review of the project.

“If the Turnbull government was committed to transport solutions they should at least be willing to call a review into why the cost of this project has increased by more than $6 billion.

“We will continue to push for this reassessment. The Turnbull government will be responsible for a massive waste of public money that could have funded public transport solutions for Western Sydney.

“With billions of dollars of public money going into a motorway project with a shonky business case Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s public transport credibility is as shaky as is the benefits of this motorway,” Senator Rhiannon said.

  

Question without notice asked by Senator Lee Rhiannon – 3 December 2015

Question no. 4

 

Primary

 

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Senator Colbeck:

 

The release of the updated WestConnex Business Case shows a massive cost blowout from $10 billion to $16.8 billion. Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of the previous business case showed that indeed it wrongly estimated project costs because the business case did not follow the correct guidelines. Given these facts, when will the Minister insist on a review of federal funding of the project by the Commonwealth Auditor General?

 

Supplementary 1

 

Mr President, I ask a supplementary question:

 

Given this cost blow out and the planning and delivery of WestConnex having been transferred to a private corporation which is not subject to NSW Freedom of Information requests, The Sydney Motorway Corporation, how can the Minister be confident that the $3.5 billion dollars of federal funds and loans allocated to WestConnex will be used in the public’s best interest?

 

Supplementary 2

 

Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question:

 

For federal funding to be used in the public’s best interests, the traffic forecasts for the WestConnex need to be accurate. Historically, traffic forecasts have been vastly inflated for the Sydney Cross City Tunnel, the Lane Cove Tunnel, the Clem7 Tunnel and the Brisbane Airport Link. Given this, how can the Minister justify gambling billions in federal funds on WestConnex instead of spending it on proven, efficient and clean public transport which will actually reduce congestion on Sydney’s roads?


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