Tuesday, December 7, 2021

No oversight or accountability on Basin Rail despite the problems

The Andrews Labor Government can’t say what failures led to the waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on the now stalled and unfinished Murray Basin Rail Project.

Last week’s long overdue release of the revised business case revealed Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan never intended to complete the project, instead favouring a $244 million patch job.

Treasurer Tim Pallas couldn’t explain what went wrong – and what checks and balances would be put in place in the future to stop it from happening again – when asked today in State Parliament.

The Treasurer instead claimed the Transport Infrastructure Minister had ‘effectively’ managed the project – which is now out of money and barely half finished, with stakeholders saying they’re now worse off than when work started.

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The Project was intended to standardise the century old network, making it more efficient by running one set of wagons instead of a broad and standard gauge set and by taking thousands of truck movements off the roads.

A damning Victorian Auditor-General report found in March that ‘completion of the MBRP is a year overdue, with over twice the original budget now estimated as necessary to complete the project to its original approved scope’ (VAGO, p33).

Comment attributable to Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh:

“The once-in-a-generation Murray Basin Rail Project is in tatters under an incompetent, arrogant Minister who refuses to admit her mistakes.

“Stakeholders are furious they were kept in the dark for months, despite the Minister knowing since May that Labor didn’t intended to finish this project in full, as promised.

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“North west Victorians will never forgive Minister for Excuses Jacinta Allan for her incompetence.”

Comment attributable to Shadow Treasurer, Louise Staley:

“Only Labor could completely botch a transformational opportunity for regional Victoria that will boost the efficiency and productivity of our farmers in north west Victoria.

“It’s so bad that $244 million is now needed just to patch up Labor’s mess but leaving this project unfinished isn’t an option, and it must be delivered in full.

“The Treasurer must step in and get control of this waste and mismanagement by the failed Minister for Transport Infrastructure.”

 

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