Dec 18, 2014

Baird must release Westconnex business case

NSW Premier Mike Baird must release the full business case for Sydney’s proposed Westconnex road project following the release of a NSW Office of Audit report identifying serious deficiencies in planning and quality assurance processes surrounding the project.


The audit report states clearly that “the preliminary business case submitted for gateway review had many deficiencies and fell well short of the standard required for such a document’’.


This comes just days after it emerged that the former Victorian Liberal Government cooked the books to create a business case for its proposed East-West Link and that Tony Abbott gave it $3 billion of public money without even checking whether it represented value for money.


While the NSW audit did not address the issue of value for public money, it identified serious deficiencies in project planning and evaluation regarding Westconnex.


The report said there were not “clearly separate roles and responsibilities for delivery, commissioning and assurance’’ nor “robust processes and procedures to manage the conflicts’’ that arose from this lack of separation.


In other words, Westconnex requires independent quality assurance rather than the she’ll-be-right attitude shown so far by the Baird Government.


The Government’s response to the report’s recommendation that the Westconnex Delivery Authority must resolve these issues is only “supported in principle’’ is not good enough.


It is clear from this report that the Government is not getting the planning right for Westconnex.


In its current form, the road would not even meet the stated objective of the project, which is to take people from Sydney’s west to the CBD and freight to the port.


On its current design, Westconnex is a road to a traffic jam.


Given the concerns expressed by the auditors and the lack of rigour being shown by Tony Abbott when it comes to funding big infrastructure projects, Mr Baird should release the business case now.