Alexandria Residents’ Action Group (ARAG) welcomes the decision by the Federal Auditor General to conduct a Performance Audit in relation to the “Approval and Administration of Commonwealth Funding for the WestConnex project”.
We are pleased by the decision to examine whether the Commonwealth’s involvement was properly informed by appropriate advice and followed the established processes as apply to nationally significant infrastructure investments.
The NSW Auditor-General’s Report into WestConnex in 2014 was damning, and nothing has occurred since then that suggests any improvement in governance.
In particular, we call on the Federal Auditor General to examine whether the advice behind the forecast Cost Benefit ratio is built on sound assumptions. Assumptions that we want queried include:
- claiming a value for each hour of travel-time saved that is higher than State Government Guidelines;
- a claimed percentage of ‘business travellers’ (the most valuable category) that is higher than State Government Guidelines; and
- a claimed value for total time saved that is higher than the forecast time to be saved per trip, multiplied by the forecast number of trips to be taken.
ARAG co-convenor Ben Aveling said, “The dollars do not add up. The time savings do not add up. Westconnex.com.au claimed it would be possible to drive from Homebush Bay to St Peters in less time than it would take to drive from Homebush Bay to Parramatta Rd. WestConnex does not add up.”
ARAG also hopes that the Federal Auditor General will investigate whether the forecast travel time savings can be considered appropriate, given they are based on the assumption that there will be no induced traffic – an assumption that goes against 50 years of observing previous toll road projects in Australia and overseas. Mr Aveling continued: “If there is induced traffic, or if any of the other assumptions behind the Cost Benefit ratio are wrong – and we believe they are – then the forecast benefits are overstated by billions of dollars.
“Regardless, benefits are not revenue, and we’re all still waiting to hear how Mr Baird intends to generate the revenue necessary to repay the Commonwealth Government and other backers without having a multi-billion dollar hit on the State Budget.”
Although ARAG has also asked to conduct a further audit of WestConnex, the NSW Auditor General has declined to proceed.
Media contact: Ben Aveling 0407 228 240