Senator RHIANNON: Mr Mrdak, in previous answers you have confirmed that the Victorian government has stated that the benefit-cost ratio of the East West Link if the so-called wider economic benefits are not included is 0.8 to one. Has IA ever recommended funding for a project with a benefit-cost ratio of 0.8 to one or even lower?
Mr Mrdak : I would have to look at the IA categorisation. I am not as familiar with all of the projects. I would have to take that on notice.
Mr Mrdak : I would have to take that on notice, Senator.
Mr Fitzgerald : No, I cannot.
Mr Fitzgerald : I think we should take that on notice, if it involves projects.
Mr Roe : So the question—
Mr Fitzgerald : No, we will take it on notice.
Mr Fitzgerald : That is where it is currently listed in the IA.
Senator RHIANNON: Given that the Abbott government talks often about infrastructure projects with Commonwealth funding to be backed by a rigorous business case and benefit-cost analysis, can you confirm that you have seen a full business case proposed for the East West Link?
Mr Mrdak : Perhaps Senator Rhiannon was not in the room when—
Mr Fitzgerald : Infrastructure Australia has not seen the full business case.
Mr Fitzgerald : We expect to receive a full business case from the Victorian government.
Mr Fitzgerald : I do not know exactly but it is imminent. We have in fact received more information—
Mr Fitzgerald : By definition, yes. We will work through that full business case with the Victorian government.
Ms O'Connell : Senator, as I outlined earlier, they are an advisory body to government. Government make decisions about funding and hand over the money. It is not IA.
Senator RHIANNON: Yes, I appreciate that.
Senator CONROY: That is the point.
Mr Mrdak : The business case that has been developed to this point has been provided to Infrastructure Australia and the department.
Mr Mrdak : The information is reasonably complete. There are some areas which Victoria is now revising and reviewing. As Mr Fitzgerald outlined, he anticipates receiving that business case for stage 1, and also Victoria is now preparing the business case for stage 2, which will both be made available to Infrastructure Australia.
Mr Mrdak : Infrastructure Australia, as Mr Fitzgerald has outlined, have gone back to Victoria and outlined some areas where they are seeking further information.
Mr Fitzgerald : I do not have that detail with me, I am sorry.
Mr Fitzgerald : No. I have not been involved in the process between IA—I have had one discussion with the department, who sent some further information in the last few days, but I have not reviewed that information.
Mr Mrdak : I think Victoria are now reviewing in the light of what they are doing in terms of some of the planning issues and also the procurement issues which are now underway. As that is being updated, that information will be provided.
Senator RHIANNON: That is very wide ranging. That basically sounds like the whole business case.
CHAIR: We will come back to that after morning tea. Are you any relation of Rupert Murdoch, Mr Mrdak?
Mr Mrdak : No, I am not.
CHAIR: Mr Mrdak. We will take a break. The committee will have a quick private meeting.
Proceedings suspended from 10:46 to 11:00
CHAIR: We will resume.
Mr Mrdak : Submissions? Sorry, how do you mean?
Senator RHIANNON: What requests for assistance, what projects have been floated with you, however you interact with Victoria outside the East West Link? Can you outline what other transport projects are on the books in any way?
Mr Mrdak : Certainly we have an ongoing engagement with Victorian officials. The Victorian government has made a number of submissions to the Australian government in relation to future investment programs. Obviously, as you are aware, the government made a series of commitments in the State of Victoria in the lead-up to the last federal election. Subsequent to that the Victorian government has put forward a number of proposals for changes and variations to the investment program, which have been reflected in this year's budget with a number of key decisions.
In the budget this year the government has announced its commitment to the East West Link, both stage 1 and stage 2. The government has also made some announcements in relation to a significant rail level crossing project, St Albans, and also some other variations to the program—
Mr Mrdak : In relation to those other projects we have also received project proposals or at least indicative project information in relation to all of the Victorian projects which appear in the program as announced in the budget.
Ms O'Connell : Things like the duplication of the Princes Highway, for example.
Mr Mrdak : All of the projects that have been agreed with Victoria—
Mr Mrdak : That are not reflected in the budget?
Mr Mrdak : Clearly, like all jurisdictions, they have a list of projects they would like to receive Commonwealth funding for, some of which—
Mr Mrdak : I would have to take that on notice. They are clearly a long list of projects that each jurisdiction would like to see Commonwealth funding for.
Mr Mrdak : Certainly.
Senator RHIANNON: Just going back to what we were talking about before with regard to the business case, when you do receive it for the East West, will that be publicly available?
Mr Mrdak : That will be a matter ultimately for the Victorian government and Infrastructure Australia, depending on the nature of it. But certainly the government has indicated that it certainly sees in the future that as much as possible Infrastructure Australia's assessment and material will be made publicly available, provided they are not matters which go to commercial-in-confidence that might affect procurement processes and the like, yes.
Mr Fitzgerald : Yes, that is my understanding. I have the same understanding.
Mr Mrdak : As part of its reforms, Infrastructure Australia is looking for a greater level of transparency around the publication of materials. To this point Infrastructure Australia has published its priority list as well as, in the last few years, benefit-cost ratios against projects that are all available on its website. In future—
Mr Mrdak : It has not been the usual case.
Mr Mrdak : No.
Mr Mrdak : Information has been released and Infrastructure Australia's website contains details of many projects, including their assessment. In the future the government has made a commitment to increase the amount of information that is available once the assessments have taken place, yes.
Mr Mrdak : It will depend. There may be elements of the business case which are not publicly released where the Victorian government or other state governments or territory governments wish those matters not be publicly released because they may affect the procurement process that they have underway. For instance, information such as patronage forecast and the like may not be released in full because they may form part of a commercial negotiation with, say, a PPP proponent. So in those situations you may not publish all of the information, but certainly as far as possible the government is seeking to increase the amount of information available.
Mr Mrdak : Ultimately it will be Infrastructure Australia and the Australian government, if material was provided to the government.
Mr Mrdak : Ultimately the Infrastructure Australia council in the first instance would make judgments based on advice they receive from the proponents of the project.
Mr Mrdak : Where information is provided separately to the government, the government could choose—and I think may increasingly choose—to provide that information publicly.
Mr Mrdak : IA can make their own judgments based on the request from the proponents as to what information can be made available.