Monday, 17 December 2018

WESTCONNEX REPORT CONFIRMS A CULTURE OF WASTE, MISMANAGEMENT AND SECRECY UNDER THE BEREJIKLIAN LIBERAL GOVERNMENT

A Parliamentary committee has delivered a damning indictment on the culture of secrecy and cover up at the heart of the Berejiklian Liberal Government over its management of the largest infrastructure project in the country, the giant WestConnex toll road.

In a 200 page report, the Public Accountability Committee lays bare how the Liberals used the cloak of the Sydney Motorway Corporation – the government controlled private entity set up to deliver WestConnex – to hide their waste and mismanagement.

The Committee found the State Government was not up front about the business case for the road, failed to get an independent assessment of it and that the SMC “weakened” the disclosure and accountability rules governing the project. 

It also said that the recent sale of a majority stake in the road to the private sector is likely to “exacerbate existing transparency and accountability concerns”.

The report comes after a deluge of negative reports into the Government’s terrible mismanagement of major infrastructure and the waste that has attended it.

Labor has found more than $13 billion of the $70 billion that the Liberals’ have reaped from privatisation has been wasted on cost blowouts on, among other things, Sydney Light Rail and the Sydney Gateway. 

Last week the independent Auditor-General found that sale of Ausgrid had been botched and was possibly in contravention of ICAC guidelines. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that a clause holding back the economic development of Newcastle in the sale of ports in 2013 was anti-competitive and illegal.

Today’s findings come a day ahead of an update on the Budget which is expected to show significant structural weaknesses in the state’s economy as a result of the Liberals’ privatisation agenda. 

NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley said: “The Liberals’ record on Westconnex is emblematic of the way they have handled major infrastructure projects across the state.

“At $20 billion WestConnex has doubled in cost, eaten up all the proceeds of the sale of the state’s electricity assets and it is still under a cloud a secrecy.

“This report confirms all our concerns about this Government’s failure to properly plan and implement major infrastructure projects. What makes it worse is that the Liberals went to such lengths to hide it all from the public. 

“It is a terrible indictment of this Government and will not happen under a Daley Labor government."

Monday, 10 December 2018

NSW PORTS A BAD PRIVATISATION - RECYCLING OF ASSETS OR OUTRAGEOUS ATI-COMPETITIVE CONDUCT

The Liberals zealotry of privatisation will hit the courts after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged that the agreements entered into by the NSW Liberal government in leasing Port Botany and Port Kembla are anti-competitive and unlawful.

I have a lot to say about the stupidity of this zealotry 6 years ago in parliament which you can ready here.

Matt O'Sullivan of the Sydney Morning Herald reports today NSW ports privatisation in firing line after ACCC takes legal action.

Why does it take 6 years to work these Liberals out? Where has the ACCC been for 6 years? The could have stopped it then. Sometime I just wish I was wrong.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

LIBERAL'S TRAIN TIMETABLE A FLOP - AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT CONFIRMS

The Berejiklian Government’s train timetable – introduced a year ago despite warnings from transport experts - has been confirmed a failure in a new report from the state’s independent watchdog.

Despite protestations by Transport Minister Andrew Constance to the contrary, the NSW Auditor General found that punctuality on Sydney’s trains fell when the new timetable was introduced exactly a year ago.

Trains were running on time on 93.8 per cent of services prior to the introduction of the new timetable but fell to 89.8 per cent in its aftermath.

“Prior to the timetable change, three out of four train lines met the punctuality target. After the timetable change, only one train line out of five met the punctuality target,” the Auditor General wrote.

Yet the Transport Minister insists his new timetable is a success despite delays, periodic chaos and meltdowns. He went live with the timetable in late November despite not having enough drivers or contingency plans in place to deal with unforeseen events. 

The Auditor General’s report also found Sydney’s commuters expressed their frustration by complaining more. In 2017/18 there was a 29 per cent increase in complaints about Sydney’s trains.

Shambles at Green Square Train Station - Overdevelopment causing crisis


I have been sounding the warning for several years now about the impact of the redevelopment in and around Green Square.

It is one of the largest urban renewal projects ever undertaken in this country and by the time it is finished, the population in just three square kilometres will be a jaw dropping 61 000. It will be the most densely populated area in Australia, bar none.

It is approaching a crisis point.

Tuesday morning, last week, I had a constituent send me a photo of Green Square train station. It was extraordinary.

There were queues of people backing up off the platform, and up to the station mezzanine, where they were being prevented from descending to the platform by station attendants, because even the platforms were over capacity.

Not only are the trains too full, but now the platforms can’t even accommodate the passengers, and they are being prevented from even entering the station. 

Matt O’Sullivan, in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, reported that weekday patronage at that station has surged by 80% in just three years, jumping from 11 000 to 21 000 daily visits between 2014 and 2017. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/transport-mess-passengers-at-one-sydney-station-nearly-double-in-three-years-20181119-p50gwf.html


But Green Square is nowhere near finished. There are hundreds more buildings yet to be finished and tens of thousands of more residents to come, some in the very near future.

I have always held the intellect of this government in very low regard, but even this astounds me.

Make no mistake: the NSW Liberals, over eight long years, have done this themselves.

When Premier Keneally removed the station access fee at Green Square and Mascot stations that line was jokingly referred to as the “ghost train”.

Has no idiot understood that you just can’t keep increasing population density, even on a transport route, if you cannot increase the capacity of the transport network? 

I’ve been calling for a moratorium on further population and density increases in Green Square for five years, but the NSW Government has just ignored me. Now we are going to pay the price. 

There are no new roads, the buses and trains are full, and there is no way to increase capacity. Sydney, under the NSW Liberals, is slowly suffocating itself.

Everywhere you go in Sydney, but especially in my electorate, apartment blocks spring up, seemingly overnight. Every block in Sydney is being transformed from a shop or a terrace house into a multi-storey unit development. It is time for this madness to stop.

PREMIER’S KEY PROJECTS HIT BY $21.7 BILLION COST BLOWOUT

The cost of the Premier’s three key infrastructure projects has doubled thanks to the Berejiklian Government’s waste and mismanagement.

The bill for Sydney light rail, WestConnex and a new road to the port and airport has gone from a combined $11.6 billion to $21.7 billion, according to the Liberal State Government’s own figures.

The figures lay bare the full extent of the Government’s waste, mismanagement and wrong priorities as children across the state are forced to study in a record number of demountables and elective surgery waiting lists mount in the state’s hospitals.

In eight years the State Government is yet to cut a single ribbon on one of its own major transport projects.

The cost of the Premier’s pet project, Sydney Light Rail, has ballooned from $1.6 billion to $3.1 billion now that the Government is facing a $1.1 billion lawsuit from its own contractors.

The newly-privatised WestConnex is yet to be finished and is at least $6.8 billion over budget. In order to minimise costs the Premier and her WestConnex Minister Stuart Ayres have scaled back the size of the project by carving off roads and handing them back to the roads agency to finish.

The Sydney Gateway, a road to the Kingsford Smith Airport and Port Botany, which was originally part of WestConnex, has blown out by up to $1.8 billion. 

In contrast, NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley will give the community and experts a greater say on major infrastructure projects. NSW Labor’s Public Planning Inquiries will end the secrecy, deals and bungles that have hit the Berejiklian Government’s infrastructure build.

Mr Daley said; “This Premier and her government have gouged NSW taxpayers $21.7 billion for three infrastructure projects without delivering a single thing.

“This is further proof that this government has the wrong priorities, spending billions on Sydney Stadiums whilst hospital waiting lists blow out, there’s chaos on the rail system and are kids are forced to study in demountable classrooms.”

“This government is bloated with the proceeds of its sale of the state’s electricity and other assets.

“They are spending taxpayers’ money on the wrong priorities and wasting it with their lack of proper planning and an inability to manage projects.” 

“I’M GOING TO PUT TRANSPARENCY BACK INTO THE PLANNING FOR SYDNEY” – DALEY

Under a Daley Labor Government major infrastructure projects will be subject to Public Planning Inquiries (PPIs) to minimise disruption to local communities and ensure full transparency

Mr Daley said his plan would end the era of Berejiklian Government secrecy and bungles.

“It will bring to an end eight years of the Liberal Government’s secret deals with developers, toll road operators and stadium builders,” Mr Daley said.

“It will prevent wasteful disasters like the Sydney light rail and vanity projects like stadium rebuilds,” Mr Daley said.

If elected as Premier next March, Mr Daley will initiate Public Planning Inquiries (PPIs) into all infrastructure projects valued at $1 billion or more to ensure proper planning processes are followed and communities and independent experts are properly consulted.

Unlike the current Liberal planning process, PPIs would ensure that no approval for a project is granted or work commenced before a full business case is provided and independent experts have assessed the project.

A PPI will examine the feasibility of all options and do so in the full glare of the public, calling witnesses to give evidence and disclosing reports and proceedings.

PPIs would avoid planning failures of the past when, for example, bureaucrats were instructed not to examine public transport options for the southern suburbs of Sydney, which resulted in an inadequate first phase of the F6 motorway instead.

PPIs will ensure there is not a repetition of projects like the Sydney light rail disaster, which proceeded despite advice to the contrary by independent experts, Infrastructure NSW, and Infrastructure Australia. Similarly, the multi-billion dollar Northern Beaches Link tunnel promised in the heat of a by-election before any thorough appraisal was done.

Mr Daley said; “For too long decisions that affect the public have been made behind closed doors.

“This has to end. I want to bring transparency back to the planning for Sydney.

“The developers and builders get to have their say – so why not communities and independent experts. 

“Every project the Government builds is paid for with taxpayers’ money. Taxpayers are the ultimate owners of these assets and have every right to have their say.

“I’m a great believer in consulting the experts and there is no better authority on what benefits the community than the people who live there. It’s time that we allowed the public to come along and have their say.

“People should feel that they have a say in how their money is being spent n their communities. We can no longer ambush communities like this government has done on major projects like the light rail, NorthConnex or WestConnex.

“When the Government is cutting these corporate deals there is no one from the community sitting at the table – that must end.”

DALEY HELPS LIGHTEN THE LOAD FOR FAMILIES – LABOR TO WAIVE BIRTH CERTIFICATE FEE

Labor Leader, Michael Daley, today announced a Labor government would waive the $58 fee for NSW birth certificates.

This will give around 100,000 babies and their parents a bit more to spend on the essentials.

If elected next March, a Daley Labor government would add one free standard birth certificate to other initiatives that help out with the rising cost of living. 

After eight years of the Liberal Coalition Government, families are doing it tough. Power bills have risen by 59 per cent since 2011 and Western Sydney motorists using the M4 are paying more than $2,000 a year in tolls.

Mr Daley, a father of four, recognises that state governments can and should do what they can to help families balance the household budget. 

The Parliamentary Budget Office forecasts 99,000 birth registrations for 2019/20, the year in which Labor will implement the policy.

Ditching the fee will help families of newborn children defray a small cost at one of the most costly and intense times of their lives. 

It joins other Labor Lightening the Load policies such as:
  • Cashback on the M4 for private vehicles to help pay for the unfair toll;
  • Fare refunds for avoidable delays of more than 30 minutes on trains; and 
  • Free travel for school children.
The policy will cost $16.8 million over the forward estimates and has been verified by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.

Mr Daley said; "This is a small step to helping parents of newborns. These parents have big expenses - prams, cots, clothes, nappies and car seats for starters. They don’t need to fork out $58 simply to provide a birth certificate for their little one.” 

"I believe governments should be about making people's lives easier.

"We are not here to make a buck off you but to help you get ahead in life.

"I know that when Christina and I had our little ones every dollar and cent helped. 

“Labor will do whatever it can to lighten the load.”