In the wake of the massive cost blow-outs and delays hitting both the Parramatta Light Rail Project and the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project, the former head of Infrastructure NSW, Paul Broad, in June described the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project as a waste of money and a vanity project that should have never been started.
This was immediately followed by a secret report prepared by the NSW State Government’s own experts – the Transport for NSW’s urban domain reference group – which warned the plan for Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project was ill-conceived from the outset.
In August, NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford slammed the management of the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project, claiming the Government’s failure to conduct a proper business case has led to a $500 million cost blowout. RBA Governor, Phil Lowe, also panned the project as a textbook example of poor oversight.
In September, the farce intensified further with more than 60 businesses and landlords launching a class action lawsuitagainst the NSW Government. It was also revealed that NSW taxpayers are on the hook for a $500 million loan undertaken by the consortium building Sydney’s light rail project.
Then in November, the Auditor-General released a report predicting further cost blow-outs.
As we already know, Spanish subcontractor Acciona sued the NSW Government for $1.2 billion, in addition to the projects existing $2.1 billion cost, claiming it had been misled about the cost of ripping up powerlines under the CBD and replacing them.
Sydneysiders also face a one-year delay for the project to be finished.
Today, it has been revealed that a contractor was paid almost $500,000 by the NSW Government to prevent it from being ripped off. From The Australian:
The NSW government is paying a contractor $471,240 a year to ensure that it is paying the right extra “variations” — or payments in excess of what has been contracted…
The government tenders website reveals that between April last year and the end of March, East West Services Pty Ltd was paid the money to “conduct general assessment of variations and claims” and “undertake assessment of cost entitlement for variations and claims”…
Opposition transport spokeswoman Jodi McKay said that “the Liberals’ incompetence now requires further money for contractor claims and modifications that should never have happened”.
“This government has given the consultants and financiers another hefty payday at the expense of taxpayers,” she said.
The incompetence of the NSW Government is staggering. It has messed up nearly every major infrastructure project that it has embarked upon in a futile attempt to keep pace with Sydney’s break-neck population growth.
Let’s hope it can do better this term.