Auditor General condemns decision to tip government money into WestConnex

The Auditor General has found that the Commonwealth Government funded WestConnex, knowing that there had been no demonstration of benefits.

The decisions by both parties to provide significant support for the project were inconsistent with the advice produced by both Infrastructure Australia and DIRD. … DIRD’s advice consistently flagged that the project was in the very early stages of development and could not yet be recommended for Australian Government financial support.

The subsequent May 2014 decision to make the $500 million advance payment led to the project being approved without there being any documented analysis and advice to Ministers that the statutory criteria for giving such approvals had been met.

[W]ithout more detailed information [WestConnex] cannot be considered to have real potential when considered in the context of Infrastructure Australia’s reform and investment framework.

Further, when the project missed payment milestones, rather than corrective action being taken, the milestones were shifted to allow payments to be made anyway:

in order not to delay payments, milestones were agreed to after the respective event had already occurred or amended shortly before the payment was due to be made where New South Wales (NSW) had not met the milestone.

Although the focus of the audit was on the decision to advance money to the project, the audit did reveal that in less than two and a half years, WestConnex Stage 2 may have slipped by  as much as 18 months:

DIRD’s April 2014 advice to Ministers indicated that … construction of Stage 2 could be completed by up to two years ahead of schedule.

On 11 May 2015, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and the NSW Minister for Roads jointly announced the commencement of Stage 2 construction 18 months ahead of schedule…

On 16 September 2016, NSW had reported to DIRD that the Stage 2 main works were not expected to be complete until early 2020. This timing indicates that Stage 2 is less than six months ahead of the delivery schedule outlined in 2013.

[N]one of the 2016–17 milestones agreed in 2015 had been met…

The audit also revealed that expenditure has not always been accurately project managed:

The ANAO notes that reported expenditure information within IMS for WestConnex may be unreliable

reported expenditure for September 2016 was overstated by at least $319.4 million

initial reporting did not reflect the correct split between state and federal [funding]

Paul Fletcher, Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure, responded that the Auditor General had not criticised the benefits.

“Nothing in this report raises any questions about WestConnex’s design, the construction program, or the benefits that WestConnex will deliver to millions of people in western and southwestern Sydney…”

The Minister is being misleading. The Auditor General did not examine the benefits. It was not his job to do so. It was the job of the Federal Government and the State Government, and they did not do so.

But now that Paul Fletcher has brought up the issue of benefits, we call for the State Government to pause all further work on WestConnex while an inquiry can be held into the true cost benefit of the project.

The full ANAO report is here.

Notes from last week’s meeting

In no particular order, here are some of the links and other material discussed at last week’s meeting:

  • Euston Road/McEvoy Street widening:More information is available here.
  • Alexandria School Senior Campus: the Development Application can be found here.  (Deadline for submissions: 23 Feb)
  • ATP: The number for reporting any issues with ATP construction work is 1800 870 549
  • Erskineville Station downgrading: the SMH article about the downgrading of the station is here.
  • The Carmageddon Video showing the road widenings is here .
  • And the Slide pack.

Auditor General’s report means Feb 14 won’t be roses for WestConnex

The Federal Auditor General’s Audit of WestConnex is due to be tabled this Tuesday, probably at around 2pm.

Once it is released, what should opponents or supporters of WestConnex be looking for?

The first thing to remember is that some things will be off limits. This is not a full audit of WestConnex.

The audit is of the Commonwealth’s decision to commit $3.5 billion in loans and grants to the project and the focus will be on the process by which that decision was made, including the information the decision relied on.

This is where things ought to get delicate for what is now the Berejiklian government, but also for the Federal Government.

If the Auditor General’s office have done their job properly, then we can expect them to identify the following issues, which are already known: Continue reading

Meeting Wednesday: McEvoy St widening, Euston Road widening, Carmageddon.

This month’s meeting will be all about the  widening of McEvoy St and Euston Road, and how this is all going to impact us.

Euston_McEvoy_widening.png

Usual time and place:
7pm, Wednesday 8th February,
Alexandria Town Hall, Garden

For background information, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC363Gw7qig

Mass demonstration at Sydney Park

A message from WestCONnex Action Group:

Today WestConnex contractors began destroying large numbers of trees in Sydney Park on the corner of Euston and Campbell Roads.

This is an urgent appeal to WestConnex Action Group members and supporters to join a mass demonstration at the Sydney Park Camp tomorrow morning from 6am to take a stand against the clear felling of large swathes of trees and the demolition of scores of homes in St Peters at Sydney Park and surrounds.

Your support so far during this campaign has been great and is appreciated. The Sydney Park protest camp has been in operation for 116 days now and this has been a huge community effort. We now need you tomorrow and throughout this week to stand up again against WestConnex.

Despite all the evidence showing that the plans by WestConnex for the St Peters Interchange and the New M5 will be a disaster, just like the M4 East has been, Duncan Gay and the Baird government have not listened.

Their road building frenzy knows no limits – more than 800 significant trees in and around the Inner West’s largest green space, Sydney Park, will be felled in the next few weeks as works begin to widen Euston and Campbell Roads to 7 and 8 lane highways.

Premier Baird and Roads Minister Duncan Gay definitely don’t have a social license for this project. We know tens of thousands of people all around Sydney do not support this wasteful road building which will feed the corporate tollroad companies for decades to come.

Join us tomorrow morning at 6am or as early as you can at the Sydney Park Camp on the corner of Euston and Campbell Roads to stand against Baird’s vandalism.

We know there’s a better way of doing transport in this city and we are prepared to fight WestConnex for as long as it takes to stop this dirty tollroad destroying our communities.

We need everyone to stand up and say NO tomorrow morning

TAKE ACTION

THURSDAY Jan 12 from 6AM (if you can’t make it at 6, please come down as early as you can)

Corner of Euston and Campbell Roads St Peters (entry via Campbell Road – walk or drive down Campbell Road from the Princes Highway)
WestCONnex Action Group
http://www.westconnexactiongroup.org.au/

Trees Euston Rd - Total area - red to go.JPG

December Meeting Agenda

On the agenda for tomorrow’s ARAG meeting (14/12/2106):

  • Waterloo Metro – is there a possibility of another station in or around Alexandria?
  • Australian Technology Park redevelopment and the Planning Assessment Commission
  • WestConnex – possible legal challenge
  • Alexandria community wins in 2016

You are invited to stay after the formal part of the meeting to celebrate our efforts and share some Christmas cheer. Bring something to drink and/or some nibbles to share!

Meeting starts at 7pm, at Alexandria Town Hall, Garden St.

In other news:

  • Ashmore Estate – Greenland Australia and GH Properties are building a around 1500 apartments on a 6.9-hectare site previously owned by Goodman. To receive project updates and be notified of community events, email: community [at] glgroup.com.au. Please write Ashmore Estate in the subject line.
  • Alexandria Park School Redevelopment (Mitchell Road Campus). The project management team are continuing to hold update meetings with small groups of residents. The next meeting will be on Monday 19 December, from 14:00 – 15:00. If you are interested in attending, please contact ben.aveling [at] arag.org.au or  Alex Wilson <wilson.a [at] rootprojects.com.au>

 

Meeting Wednesday: WestConnex, ATP, Alex Park School

Our next meeting is this Wednesday, at the usual time and place of:

7pm at Alexandria Town Hall.

On the agenda:

  • Asking City of Sydney for a traffic study (and maybe some other things)
  • Mirvac’s plans to bring 10,000 CBA staff to the ATP
  • Alexandria Park Community School re-development