After failing yesterday to publicly release key documents on the WestConnex project, the Abbott government has today refused to answer questions in the Senate about the motorway.
“Yesterday, the government failed to produce the WestConnex business plan and traffic modelling – contrary to an order from the Senate,” said Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon, who moved the order to produce documents last week.
“If Senator Michaelia Cash’s response is anything to go by, we must have struck a nerve.
“After failing to publicly release information and answer questions on Westconnex the glaring question is – what does the government have to hide on this over-priced, unwanted project?
“These developments are the latest examples of the shonky process the Abbott government uses when it deals with motorway builders and developers.
“We already know that the federal government committed $3.5 billion in funding to WestConnex without waiting for Infrastructure Australia to complete its assessment of the motorway.
“We also know that Infrastructure Australia found that the secret business case failed to account for the induced trips motorists would have to make – and no allowance was made for cost blow outs, which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. The Minister has today refused to explain this.
“The Minister in refusing to release the Westconnex documents repeated his claims that ‘it is not in the public interest’ to produce this material. This is extraordinary considering public money is already being spent on this project.
“What he didn’t say is that it is in the interests of the developers and the Baird government to keep this information secret.
“If the Abbott government is not going to release information on how the money is being spent, when will that happen? After the motorway is built?
Senator Rhiannon also raised concerns that the Labor Party is continuing to support the Westconnex project.
“It is deeply disturbing that in spite of the secrecy, and the problems identified by Infrastructure Australia, Labor plans to go ahead with its own WestConnex project.
“Why has Labor remained committed to the motorway when the Abbott and Baird governments are going to such lengths to keep information secret?
“The reality is that the money allocated for Westconnex would be much better invested in the public transport that Sydney’s inner west needs.”