Labor refuses to answer simple transport questions at PAEC

Today we saw a shameful attempt by Andrews Labor Government members and especially the Chair, Lizzie Blandthorn, to block the release of basic budget outcome figures that should be in the public domain.

These figures Labor blocked, at a Public Accounts and Estimates hearing, all relate to the state Budget 2019/2020, and were provided in tables cut/copied from the 2019/20 budget paper number 4.

The tables simply sought:

  1. The change in Total Expected Investment in each project as at 30 June 2020, due to decisions or changes made to projects and project scope in the 2019/20 financial year

  2. The actual expenditure on each project in the 2019/20 financial year

  3. New estimated completion dates for listed each project as at 30 June 2020

These figures are normally published in each new budget but have been withheld by the Andrews Labor Government. This was done as act of defiance and cover-up for the government’s massive infrastructure project mismanagement.

What do they have to hide? They have the figures at their fingertips and any honest government would release them in full.

See the tables of projects from the 2019/20 State Budget, that Labor MPs tried to block release of at https://bit.ly/3aMxBJq

In the hearing Blandthorn sought to demand that questions be provided in advance in future. This is a serious attack on democracy. The Andrews Labor Government is running scared of questions about its project budget blowouts.

Now Labor wants to vet Opposition questions at hearings before they are asked! Arrogant and undemocratic!

There were other serious questions the Secretary of the Transport Department, Paul Younis, failed to answer on the so called ‘Suburban Rail Loop (SRL):’

  1. What is the cost of the SRL project, the overall cost – Mr Younis claimed it wasn’t known but he failed to rule out a total cost of $150 Billion, making it by far the most expensive project in Australia’s history. How is it that Daniel Andrews is proceeding on this massive project without a business case and without knowing what its cost is?

  2. My Younis also said indicated that the introduction of value capture taxes, new taxes, was the responsibility of the Department of Treasury and Finance and not his. This is at odds with statement earlier in the week by the Secretary of Treasury and Finance that these matters were the responsibility of the Department of Transport. Two departments pointing at each other with the hot potato of new Value Capture taxes on families – shocking.

  3. Mr Younis failed to rule out a new ‘Value Capture’ taxes of $5,000 per year on each and every household within 5 kilometres of the proposed rail line. People have a right to hear the truth about Labor’s planned new railway tax. How much will they pay and for how long? It’s time for the government to come clean on how much families will pay.

In a disturbing new development Labor has admitted to unorthodox payment mechanism for the over budgeted cost of the Level Crossing Removal program, with many payments made direct from Treasury, bypassing normal procurement processes, via ‘Treasurer’s Advance’ – no wonder there are billions of dollars of blowouts across Labor’s projects.

Comments attributable to David Davis, Shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure:

“Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan should immediately provide the hidden transport project figures to the community. What do they have to hide?

“The Andrews Labor Government’s failure to answer these questions is a cover-up, pure and simple!

“PAEC Committee Chair Lizzie Blandthorn was doing the dirty work of Daniel Andrews and Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, covering their tracks, covering up their project cost blowouts. Her phone was in meltdown as she received external instruction to block tough cost questions.

“The Andrews Labor Government must come clean on the full cost of level crossing removals, crossing by crossing, no more cover-ups.”

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