INCOMPETENT HANDLING OF WESTCONNEX, CONCEALMENT OF ITS BUSINESS CASE & FOI, INCOMPETENT PRE-PLANNING, and suppression of complementary works such as the Goanna Bridge (ameliorates extra 20,000 vehicles per day at Rozelle)
Albanese’s Infrastructure Coordinator recommended WestConnex be included on the Priority List at threshold, i.e. ab initio. It was said to ease congestion. WestConnex is consistent as a missing link with 1970s URTAC reports and it came out of the RTA; but its management was so incompetent that the benefit/cost ratio was probably no higher than 0.7. It was an ideological project rather than a logical planning process.
Professor Richard Tomlinson put it this way in “Metropolitan governance is the missing link in Australia’s reform agenda”:
Transport and planning ministerial silos compromise effective state leadership in the development of urban regions. Big-budget transport ministries show scant regard for planning ministries. … despite a professed commitment to compact cities in state-prepared metropolitan strategic plans, infrastructure investment has contributed to urban sprawl.
SGS Economics & Planning undertook a comprehensive professional critique of the final edition.
They found a footnote on page 240 saying that costs excluded “land acquisition, network enhancements and development costs”; after on page 222 “The components of real capital cost … include property, design and construction contracts … and urban renewal works”. SGS showed two examples of loss of economic value amounting to $3.7 billion.
SGS pointed to the exclusion of critical linkages such as M4 to M5. Construction and route closure effects on transit and personal transport as well as increased severity of accidents were excluded.
This seems ridiculous but SGS reported that “In its presented format, forecasts are difficult to read due to the small size of maps and illegible legends. The implications of the analysis presented are also unclear. For example, it is not clear where Sydney’s residents will be working in 2031, and whether the trips made to and from work would require the construction of WestConnex.
WestConnex Business Case stated it would be out of capacity by 2031. There are no augmentation works planned except for an outer orbital that will not correct Rozelle over-concentration. It is said that 200 resident action groups sprung up because of uncertainty, changes in route and ventilation locations, demolitions (the most shameful being the demolition of over 80 heritage homes in the Haberfield Garden Village – shocked GSC’s Chief Commissioner who is supposed to ensure “orderly development” but didn’t know).
There can be no doubt that these are material issues (adding to what CoS says up to a total over $50 billion) but in addition there was dishonesty: WestConnex and Ministers Ayres, Gay and Pavey misled the community.