The Australian Greens and Greens NSW have made a joint submission to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) around the approval and administration of Commonwealth funding for the WestConnex project.
The ANAO has outlined that the ‘objective of this audit is to assess whether appropriate steps were taken to protect the Commonwealth's interests and obtain value for money in respect to the $3.5 billion in Commonwealth funding committed to the NSW Government for the WestConnex project.’
The Greens submission to the audit puts that government was not informed by appropriate advice and questions whether it followed the processes that have been established to assess the merits of nationally significant infrastructure investments. It also points out major issues with the terms of the concessional loan arrangement which would appear to not represent the best value for money and not protect the interests of the Commonwealth.
Australian Greens transport and infrastructure spokesperson Senator Janet Rice said, “It simply doesn’t add up to build massively expensive road tolls anymore. We saw this with East West Link in Melbourne which had a similar dodgy approval process confirmed in a similar ANAO audit.
“Whenever the decision making process for these projects is transparent and objective they fail to make the cut.
“The WestConnex budget keeps blowing out. It makes so much more sense to invest in congestion-busting 21st Century infrastructure that makes it easier, cheaper and safer for people to catch public transport and ride their bike.”
Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon said, “A project of this cost, scope and community impact requires rigorous planning and budgeting and scrupulous independent review mechanisms and WestConnex has had none of this.
“It is negligent of the federal government to not consider the deficient business case or lack of independent assessment before committing public funds to the project.
“The Greens submit that the terms of the concessional loan arrangement did not represent value for money and did not take into sufficient consideration the interests of the Commonwealth.
“The affected community has been calling for this funding decision to be closely examined, and the Auditor General’s review gives us a chance to see exactly how the federal Coalition government came to the decision to throw billions of taxpayer dollars at this mega road.”