Nov 7, 2014

Briggs’ call for proper process comes too late

Labor doubts the sincerity of the Abbott Government’s belated demand for state governments to publicly release business cases for major roads projects for which they seek commonwealth funding.

Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs’ call for proof that projects represent value for public money comes too late, given Tony Abbott has already handed out billions of dollars to states for projects which have not been the subject of cost-benefit analysis.

These include the Napthine Government’s proposed East -West Link in Melbourne, for which Mr Abbott has provided his Liberal colleagues a $1.5 billion advance payment, including money for Stage II, which is not due to begin until at least 2016.

Mr Briggs was today reported as complaining that states were reluctant to release business cases to prove proposals provide legitimate economic benefits rather than being proposed for political reasons.

His concern reeks of hypocrisy.

Since taking office last year Mr Abbott has scrapped commonwealth funding for public transport projects across the nation, including the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail project – both of which had produced cost-benefit analysis approved by Infrastructure Australia.

He has transferred that funding to the East-West Link, Sydney’s Westconnex project and Toowoomba’s Second Range Crossing.

None of these projects have been subject to final cost-benefit analysis.

Given his record, Mr Briggs’ late conversion to proper process is unconvincing.